New duo for Heart Berkshire radioBy Phil Creighton
February 24, 2010
It’s not just Radio 2 that has changed breakfast show hosts. Heart Berkshire welcomed a new duo to start your day with snap, crackle and pop. Phil Creighton dropped in to give his record request
‘And that was This Ole House from Shakin’ Stevens there,” said a young Gareth James, broadcasting from his plush studios located in the cupboard under the stairs of his parents’ house. “I tried to build a home studio,” confesses the DJ. “I used to record chats and make my own links.”
Now, together with fellow DJ Lizzie Crow, the pair present one of the most important shows in Heart Berkshire’s line-up: every weekday morning between 6am and 10am the pair are trying to help you wake-up in style.
The show has only been on-air for a few weeks and their partnership is just minutes older.
“We met half an hour before going into the studio,” explains Gareth, 31. “We were brought together by [Heart’s management] in a bar in London, almost like an arranged marriage. They told us what was going to happen: ‘Here’s the studio, go and make it happen’.” And so they did.
Although their partnership is just a few weeks old, it’s obvious how they feel about working together.
“As it happens, we hate each other,” says Gareth.
The bombshell hangs in the room for a nano-second before both of them collapse in heaps of laughter. He’s kidding. Completely and utterly pulling my leg – and Lizzie knows it, hence the giggles from the pair of them.
In fact, they’re enjoying each other’s company so much that they see each other outside of the office too.
“We’ve gone house-hunting together and often go out for drinks and food,” Lizzie, 27, explains, rattling off a list of places that they’ve been to or looking forward to going to.
“The Oracle’s great,” says Gareth. Lizzie then chips in: “I like the shops in The Oracle! I could spend a lot there.”
The flat hunting has been difficult. Gareth has come from Bristol while Lizzie is moving in from London. Lizzie had a head start.
“I have a cousin in Earley,” she explains. “It helped me as I have friends in the area.”
Gareth, meanwhile, also presents the Sunday show between noon and 4pm, so has had to spend his one day off househunting, a problem compounded by the recent snowfalls.
“Viewings just haven’t been happening,” he says.
Lizzie has been going with him on some of the viewings though because, “I’ll have to ask all the right questions”, teasing Gareth when she adds that he just views a place and says “it looks all right”.
When it comes to the show itself, they’re loving the change.
Gareth used to present a Drivetime show as well as a Sunday afternoon one, while Lizzie was a weekend breakfast show presenter for a London-based station.
“I’m really enjoying it,” says Gareth. “I’m not enjoying the early mornings though! Drivetime started at 4pm, now I’m up at 4am.”
For Lizzie, the early mornings are a downside of the job.
“It’s a complete shift in lifestyle and a real transition. I should be in bed by 8pm,” she confesses, admitting that she doesn’t always make it.
“You can get by,” she explains. “But the next day you’re on adrenaline. You’re all right [if you go out on a Thursday] as you get a lie-in on Saturday.”
So some days, the pair must have some blood in their caffeine stream? More laughter from them.
“I like my tea milky with no sugar,” Lizzie explains. Gareth, on the other hand, relies on the trusty Heart vending machine.
“Hot chocolate with chocomilk keeps me going,” he says.
Heart’s slogan is more music variety and the station features a range of classic hits with the latest releases. It’s a recipe that’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s music to Gareth and Lizzie’s ears.
“It’s all mainstream poppy stuff, most of the songs are on my iPod,” is Gareth’s verdict.
Lizzie is equally pleased with the discs she’s spinning.
“It’s a lot of stuff that I like listening to. It’s music you can sing along to.”
There’s other aspects to the show and the pair are enjoying them, including some of the names they’ve interviewed, including Alicia Keys and X Factor rejects Jedward. But they don’t get to be that star-struck. “It’s mostly done on the phone – we don’t always get to meet them,” says Gareth.
“You also get invited to lots of nice things, such as the
Danyl Johnson concert at the Forbury Hotel earlier this month,” he continues.
The pair also get to comment on the latest local news and it’s something that Gareth particularly relishes. “I’m enjoying the chance to be able to let people know what I think about stuff you see in the Reading Post,” he says. “Things like the city status bid. It turns me in to an old man with some of the things I want to say. For others it’s a thought in my head – but I get to say it.”
Lizzie enjoys the interactivity from listeners: “I like to hear people’s responses,” she explains. “One of the things about radio you can chat to people and it’s much more intensive [than TV].”
Gareth also enjoys robust feedback from the listeners, citing a time when he shared that when he’s a guest at a wedding he’ll sit there and decide how long the union will last.
“I got an angry caller from Woodley saying I was doing the wrong thing – people got upset by it,” he says.
“If you can say something that makes them call in the radio station to say what they think that’s me doing my job properly,” he pauses. “Or I’m really unpopular.” More laughter.
So, all those years of practice for Gareth, tucked up in that cupboard introducing the latest recording of the Top 40 paid off – and now you can hear the results every weekday.
You can listen to Gareth and Lizzie’s breakfast show between 6am and 9am on Heart Berkshire, 10.9fm or 97.0fm.
For more details, log on to www.heart.co.uk/berkshire.