60 second interview with Peter Gordon, Radio Presenter at Eagle Radio
What’s it like to be a radio presenter at Eagle Radio and what’s the best aspect of your job?
I wanted to work in radio from quite a young age and what I’ve really enjoyed about being at Eagle Radio is that we do what we want within the boundaries of who we are. We’re not a radio station that happens to own a local license, that networks out and has different commercials, which is what’s going on in the UK industry now, but a proper local radio station.
Being Guildford born and bred and very much a Surrey boy, why would I not enjoy being on the radio station that has the most listeners in Surrey? It is a commitment - people often say “you’re on air in the morning and still working through the evening,” but then as far as I’m concerned, it’s what we do. It is a commitment but it’s the commitment that I’ve always wanted, and it doesn’t get much better than that really.
Peter, what is the biggest challenge to independent radio?
Commercial radio in the UK is a really interesting point at the moment, it’s a fact that 90% of people in this country currently listen to radio. The majority of them, although only marginally are commercial radio listeners, so it shows how well commercial radio continues to do. Of course back in the 60s, commercial radio was set up to give an alternative choice to the BBC public service and the Home Service as it was before that. The big challenge we’ve got now is how we utilise the output of commercial radio to make it commercial without sounding like just another ad-break. So our challenge, and TV has done it quite well, is to get commercialisation within our content without it becoming too obtrusive so that people don’t feel they’re just hearing a series of commercials, and I think that will continue to be our challenge.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve interviewed on your breakfast show?
I’ve been lucky enough to interview masses of people to the point where I have to think a little before answering this! The most interesting person, and this goes back quite a long way, is Barry Humphries. Dame Edna Everage was one of his inventions - Barry was doing a one-man show at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford in the late 90s - the show had sold out as it was very popular however he still came onto the Breakfast Show live. He actually committed to doing the interview regardless of the fact he had sold out and didn’t need to sell it, which is what I really like about some people. He came in as Barry Humphries and we spoke to him as Barry Humphries, but he had previously said to me “whilst wearing my trilby hat whenever I pull it below my eyes I’m then in character.” So he went from Les Patterson to Dame Edna Everage on air, and when you listen back, it’s like I had multiple different people within the studio. For me, looking at him, it was just him in a hat and it was a really interesting lesson in characterisation, particularly on the radio. I still look back at that and think how clever he was.
Please tell us about your ‘Breakfast Heroes’ campaign and what you’re trying to achieve.
At Eagle Radio we want to make a difference. I know a lot of people say that and many people have these values within their companies but we actually feel that our business is to make a difference. Eagle Radio will constantly go on the search for people to celebrate the things that they do, the people they are and those they help out. Breakfast Heroes actually comes from our Local Heroes campaign, which is more widespread and we have hundreds of people who are nominated for this. Throughout the rest of the year, we highlight specific individuals by bringing them onto the Breakfast Show. We’ve had everything from a long-term milkman who’s been more than a milkman throughout his neighbourhood and community, to a retiree who has a number of different voluntary roles and, to the organisations that he works with, they say without him, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do. It’s about us celebrating how good some people really are in this area and how important it is to have people like this. I strongly believe it’s our job as a local media outlet to make our community aware of these people, because sometimes they’re not the kind of people who blow their own trumpet (unlike yours truly) but they need to be recognised.
As you know, this year The County Club has been raising money for the Cranleigh Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) which you have a personal connection with. Would you be able to tell us about that?
I was lucky enough to go to Cranleigh School and of course the other side of the school is Upfold Farm and the Upfold Fields, which is where the Cranleigh RDA is based. Back in those days at school we took part in what was called social service, where on a Wednesday afternoon you would be allotted to go and help local causes, and it was at this time that I got involved. The fact that The County Club are now raising money for them is a lovely little circle, rounded off by being able to help launch The Car Rally the other week, also raising money for them. It’s another good example of a great cause in this area that without the dedication of those who, for the most part are volunteers, it just wouldn’t exist.
How well do you think you would do in a £1,000 minute?
I don’t actually do badly! Generally, I get the gang to test me beforehand so I can get a gauge of what it’s like and also a good way of me rehearsing the questions. I’ve had occasional 10/10s, mainly I’m a sevens and eights kind of guy and whenever someone scores a seven, I reckon that’s pretty good. I’m a bit of a trivia nut as it, which certainly helps. However this is a great help for my trivia knowledge making me pretty useful in pub quizzes these days.
If you could have any one person appear on the Peter Gordon Breakfast Show, who would it be and why?
That’s such a great question. I have to say I keep coming back to this guy as I’m just so interested in his longevity, and it’s Paul McCartney. He’s the one person I have not interviewed yet. I know McCartney wasn’t necessarily everyone’s favourite Beatle - Lennon being the legend that he was, I think there’s always been a certain mystique around him with his untimely death in 1980 freezing him in time. I do however think the fact that McCartney continues to work, is clearly dedicated to what he does and also has a strong belief in a number of different causes and although he may still talk about those causes, he doesn’t necessarily ram them down people’s throats. I just believe he would be an incredibly interesting individual to interview. I would love to have Paul McCartney available for all three hours of the Breakfast Show and make it much more than just a five or 10-minute interview. I think that across generations McCartney is so well known.