Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Mixed Signals - Johnny Vaughan, 95.8 Capital FM

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Mixed Signals - Johnny Vaughan, 95.8 Capital FM

Article excerpt

The burden of expectation placed on 95.8 Capital FM's Johnny Vaughan cannot be over-exaggerated. It is not just that he replaced broadcast legend Chris Tarrant who, during 17 years at the station, became so entwined with the Capital brand that he almost was the brand. It is more the fact that as the breakfast DJ, he is key to locking in listeners for the entire day, the person whose performance dictates how the City measures the whole Capital Radio group.

In this respect, Vaughan did not start well. The loss of 187,000 listeners, 16% of the show's audience, in the last Rajar period - the first since Tarrant's departure - wiped 7.6% off Capital's share price the day it was announced.

The criticism that Vaughan suffered in subsequent newspaper reports was unfair. He had only been in the job for nine weeks and was still learning the DJ trade. It is absurd that the performance of one man, an artiste no less, should have financiers writing down the fortunes of a pounds 365m FTSE-listed company.

But the pressures on Vaughan come not just from Capital's shareholders.

The plummeting of his career from the days when he was taken to the nation's hearts as the quick-witted, cheeky chappy who hosted Channel 4's Big Breakfast is well documented. Failures include a BBC talk show, a sitcom, 'Orrible, and a variety show, Passport to Paradise. Many believe his personal standing cannot survive a high profile failure at Capital.

Nonetheless, now five-and-a-half months into the job, Vaughan appears carefree and goes about his DJ duties in the Capital studio like a veteran.

He is supported by an experienced team, but there is no question who is in control. From ensuring everybody is on cue to provide a spontaneous group vocal backing to a record, to cajoling witty repartee out of his sidekicks - Becky Jago and news reader Gareth Roberts - Vaughan is the director of the mayhem.

His wit comes to the fore during the many, long off-air breaks. He regales the team with tales of his mother's dinner-plate holder in the form of a 'massive cock', and the sickly Siamese kittens he once had. Jago: 'Did they die?' Vaughan: 'They did when they hit the bottom of the river.'

Nobody knows whether to believe his tales, but who cares, it keeps the humour alive until it's time to put on the headphones and fill in the gaps between the music, news, travel and weather reports. …

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