Jon Gaunt: 'Mainstream radio is run by idiots'

Sun columnist and former Talk Sport radio host Jon Gaunt has said ‘mainstream radio is dying’ and is ‘run by by idiots’ as he prepares to launch a new daily phone-in show broadcast on Sun Online.

Gaunt was sacked by Talk Sport in November for suggesting a councillor who wanted to stop smokers becoming foster parents was a Nazi. Ofcom has yet to rule on whether he breached the broadcast code – but Gaunt insists he did nothing wrong.

His new show will not be subject to Ofcom rules on “due impartiality” and “harm and offence” but will instead, The Sun confirmed, be governed by the Press Complaints Commission – which has no rules on taste and decency, or political balance.

Since being fired by Talk Sport, Gaunt says he has had three of four offers – but decided he didn’t want to go back to radio.

He said: “Mainstream radio is dying because it’s run by idiots who have no interest apart from the bottom line. Now the bottom line is disappearing they don’t know what to do.

“What I love about The Sun is that it is like when I was back having my first job in local radio. They said can you be mischievous, say what you want and have some fun.”

Although his new Sun show won’t be constrained by the Ofcom code, Gaunt said that he will not use that freedom to become a US-style shock-jock.

He said: “I don’t want to be a shock jock, at Talk Sport I was pushed into a corner.”

He added: “We don’t have to be impartial under the PCC code and we won’t be – but it’s a magazine as well. There will be magazine-style sections on wine tasting, holidays, gardening…it’s a different sound.”

Press Gazette understands that News International executives considered launching the show on satellite as well as online, but opted to stay web-only, partly to avoid coming under the Ofcom code.

The audio show will be broadcast five days a week from 10am to 1pm out of £1m-plus studios shared by the various News International titles.

The new facility is based in the heart of their Wapping headquarters in space previously part of the old print hall.

The multimedia suite comprises two TV studios with editing areas, one sound-proofed radio studio, a make-up area, green room and a separate studio with a live link to the Sky headquarters in West London. There are plans to build a second radio studio and a photographic studio.

Gaunt explained the daily Sun Talk show would have no time checks, no regular breaks for news and weather, no travel, and no radio-style ad breaks.

The intention is to make the show less time-sensitive, so listeners can either tune in live, or download either the whole show or their favourite segments later in the day.

Gaunt said that the new show will draw on all The Sun’s resources: “If there’s a big telly story in the news, we’ll get [Sun TV critic] Ally Ross in, of there’s a big story about Robbie Williams we’ll get [Sun showbiz editor] Gordon Smart in or the LA correspondent on the phone. Talk Sport didn’t have the resources we have.”

Sun Talk is being edited by comment editor of the paper, Chris Stevens.

Explaining how the new venture came about, he said: “Jon Gaunt has been a columnist with us for three years and there had always been a synergy between part of our audience and the Talk Sport audience.

“When he fell out with a councillor and suddenly became available, we thought we could try something.

“We will be trying to capture the flavour of The Sun by using all our regular contributors. We won’t be doing rolling news but we will be doing a mix of features and current affairs.”

Gaunt and Stevens both emphasised that Sun Talk will not be a radio show, but is intended to be something far more multi-platform and interactive.

Readers will be encouraged to text and email in, using the comment features on The Sun website, and when big-name guests are on the show Sun Talk will also include video – though this will not be broadcast live.

The first guest on Sun Talk will be leader of the opposition David Cameron, who will take an hour of calls and emails from 10am on launch day.

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