Simon Mayo is back in charge
WITH listeners ready for a smile and classic tunes, drivetime is the big show every radio DJ wants to land. This is the time when a country linked to return comes together after a hard day’s work and you cannot trust just anyone such important work.
You want someone who knows the terrain, the potholes, the shortcuts, and the songs that have punctuated our lives from cradle to commute, and that have been hits for good reason: solid gold tunes, with a capital “CH”.
That someone is Simon Mayo, the broadcaster who made the slot machine his own on the BBC and who is the new drivetime host at Greatest Hits Radio, which is part of the UK’s largest commercial radio network. He’s in good company too, with the station also home to some serious pedigree in the form of Mark Goodier, Pat Sharp, Paul Gambaccini and Janice Long.
After 40 years in the industry, Simon feels a real connection with his audience, which would follow him almost everywhere. And it knows what motivates driving time listeners, what they need to re-enter the after-work world where they can choose what to do with their time.
“Getting back to driving is very exciting for me,” says Simon. “I enjoyed doing it so much and now on Greatest Hits Radio we intend to make it even better.
“With the Drivetime slot you know what people are doing. They finished part of their day. They’ve left their workplace, closed their laptops, picked up the kids from school, and they’re cooking in the kitchen. It is a very intimate moment to enter people’s lives.
“And the lockdown really made that ‘we’re all together’ feeling worse. I broadcast from home throughout the pandemic. Reaching out to people in their homes, lending structures and welcoming the routine into their days, providing companionship. A music streaming app cannot do this. “
The 62-year-old has put together a crack group for the series, some of whom you may be familiar with. Former Radio 2 sidekick Matt Williams is back in the sport.
“He will be talking about Liverpool and how the central heating should only be on for one hour a year,” Simon laughs. “But the rest is great.”
He adds, “This is the driving show I always wanted to do. And what it was meant to be. There are things that people have enjoyed before – Matt works out, Nigel Barden does food – but it’s freer.
“We brought Confessions back and I’m happy to say there was a big response, and All Request Friday, where listeners can choose the tunes, so the show becomes a huge common jukebox. It’s a great way to start the weekend – a real burst of energy and a shared experience.
In the groove
The biggest hits you might hear on Simon Mayo’s show …
Bruce Springsteen: born run (1975)
Have you ever wanted to throw it all away and enlighten yourself for the Promised Land? You probably have the Boss’s ode to the open road deep in your mind.
Fleetwood Mac: Dreams (1977)
It only made it 24th place in the UK charts, but there isn’t a driving time regular who doesn’t know all the words.
Queen: We are the Champions (1977)
The most satisfying Queen song to sing. And it’s nice to remember that sometimes it takes guts to inhale and exhale.
David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes (1980)
This otherworldly act – part nursery rhyme, part synth-funk groove – proved Bowie to be a marvel of over a decade.
Blondie: Atomic (1980)
Studio 54 encounters the threat of nuclear annihilation. Debbie Harry plays disco with a “magnificent” effect.
The Police: Every Breath You Take (1983)
Despite the harassing words, countless couples chose him to accompany their first wedding dance.
Simple spirits: Don‘t You (Forget Me) (1985)
A perennial from the 80s that will forever be associated with the movie The Breakfast Club and that somehow reminds us of our own school days, despite the fact that we are not Americans.
Madonna: Vogue (1990)
Mrs. Ciccone is in the house! Warning: do not attempt to strike a pose while driving. This is reserved for passengers.
George Michael and Elton John: DonDon’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (1991)
The couple first performed this Elton tune on Live Aid and it became the first of four 1990s number one for George, cementing his all-time popularity.
Whitney Houston: My Love is Your Love (1998)
A comeback for the goddess of R&B, this instant gospel classic is a heart that melts the world, honestly, a better place.
“Drivetime Drama is a new addition. Matt, myself and our producer Suzi imagine and act out scenarios that give clues to song titles, which our listeners are invited to guess. It turns out to be very popular. “
Above all, Simon is happy to reconnect with the driving time crowd. “The 4 pm to 7 pm time slot is like the flip side of breakfast,” he says. “You know what a lot of people are doing and there’s that feeling of camaraderie – people want to be cheered up and they want to hang out with honest people on the radio.
Playing the best songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Greatest Hits Radio is available in more parts of the UK than ever before. You can listen on FM, DAB digital radio, your smart speaker, mobile device or online at greathitsradio.co.uk. The Greatest Hits Radio app can be downloaded for iPhone or Android.