For my money, one suite of skills sets the commercial presenter in Scotland apart from the BBC one. It’s the set of abilities that drives home the station and it’s brand promise. It extends to a well developed ability to keep listeners listening longer. The commercial raison d’être is pretty simple – the more hours your listeners put in, the larger market share you will have, making your product more attractive to listeners.
Add that to (generally) better studio skills than the rest and a willingness to work very, very hard on their gig and you have a great commercial radio performer.
Which is why this radio hero is such a legend.
It’s about 20 years since Bryan Burnett jumped from the commercial world to the BBC in Glasgow. He’d worked around both Northsound and Clyde, carving a niche as someone who lived and breathed new music. His recommendations were things you actually went to check out either live or at a decent record shop.
I first met him as a board member at UKRD’s ‘Clan FM’ when I was MD there. His understanding of the industry and the economics of commercial radio was invaluable at our meetings.
But it was as a presenter that I really understood just what he’s capable of.
After UKRD sold up I elected to freelance for Neon Productions, and was quickly assigned ‘Brand New Opry’, which BB presented. I’ve never known a jock bring more to the gig. He didn’t want long lists of questions for his interviews – he prepped them himself. He had developed an encyclopedic knowledge of country and Americana – and he always had a nearby encyclopedia nearby for when that failed him.
His love of the music comes through in every link and he never sounds like it’s less than a pleasure to be on your radio. Now as host of the nightly ‘Get It On’ on BBC Radio Scotland he demonstrates his real depth as a presenter in handling many genres and styles with seeming ease. And when he gets to interact directly with listeners he does it in a way that makes the listener the star.
Then there’s the gentle hooking and teasing – keeping listeners listening longer and more engaged. Often presenters on his current station don’t sound so engaged with their content and sound like that they’d rather read an essay about every song. This can often end up with a programme sounding like a lecture, turning it into hard work. Brian’s hugely commercial style is what makes his shows popular and engaging.
To many, Bryan Burnett is best known as the guy that hosts athletics events up and down the country and runs (a lot) himself. But to me he’s one of the best there is. His commitment to his gig and his deft and light touch with whatever content you throw at him is an example to presenters on both sides of the divide.
And that’s why he’s my latest radio hero.