SO WHO IS DANNY BAKER?
Scriptwriter, Broadcaster, Former Dazman,
or Scapegoat in Radio One's "Dumbing Down" campaign;
It's certainly hard to be ambivalent to Danny Baker. It's
been said by some that the "Cockney Cowboy" doesn't
play North of Watford, his urban know it all style representing
everything they despise, but to others including Former Radio
One Controller Matthew Bannister and radio Critic Gillian
Reynolds, there's no doubt Radio is the ideal medium for his
ornate windups, anecdotes and tomfoolery.
To many like myself his Tour De Force was the award winning
"Morning Edition" on Radio 5, which became a haven
for huge numbers of A&B twenty-thirty something's. In
John and the Buzzards and Steely Dan
tracks, P.G.Wodehouse quotes, and obscure sound bites, callers
rang in with tales of Finding
Money in the Street and Banking
Refusing dedications and linking effortlessly between Speeches
from Jaws to factious information, his show was a carefully
patterned mix of gags and windups.
Whilst "Morning Edition" was
winning critical acclaim from a demanding Breakfast audience,
his Radio 5 Saturday Football Phone-In Show "606"
was also breaking new ground . Combining comment from aggrieved
Supporters on their way home from matches with stories of
Breast Pumps, Bribing Turnstile Attendants and Football
Look-alikes, this is perhaps how he's
best remembered by "Joe Public". However at the
height of his popularity and tiring of his "Voice of
the Terraces" tag he jumped ship, but not before recommending
the then relatively unknown Nick Hancock or Frank Skinner
to take-over. In their "Wisdom" the BBC had other
plans and preferred the prestige of a then Cabinet Minister
on their team. Mellor got the 606 Gig and the show instantly
lost much of it's "Sting" and all of it's "Wit".
Returning to the Radio 5 Hot Seat for
a controversial spell a couple of years ago, he finally received
his marching orders for apparently inciting people against
Reed and insulting
a caller the following week. If he
didn't entirely reinvent radio, he certainly scoffed at accepted
convention. On the day he took over from DLT in what had been
one of Radio One's most popular slots, he revealed on air
that this was "Money for J!". He wouldn't be told
what to play or what to talk about and it was common for him
to bring in upwards of 50 of his own CDs into the studio and
sort and resort them between tracks. Records were not just
talked over, but often had bugles or static played over the top and in an industry
were rubbishing the opposition and discussing
wages were sacrosanct, he turned both
into an art.
After a gap of over a year, Danny returned
to the airwaves in September 2001 when he revived his Ahoyhoy
Danny Saturday Show on BBC London Live (9am - 12 midday) and
in April 2002 he became the Weekday Breakfast Show host.
On 9th May 2005, Danny won
a prestigious SONY Award for DJ of the Year, and the following
morning announced he would be leaving the Breakfast Show at
the end of the month. BBC London said he was taking
"an extended holiday" but would "definitely"
return to the station. Danny's agent said he wanted to write
a film script for TV Channel Five.
On 17th October 2005 Danny returned to the station in the 3-5pm Weekday Afternoon Slot.
"How about', they said, 'coming back and doing what you do - but this time in a way that would NOT require you to get up at 4.44am?'.
I must say the boldness and risk inherent in the scheme both fascinated and, yes, intimidated me. NOT getting up while it was still dark eh? Why those crafty, crazy mad BBC London so-and-so's..."
In 2006 Danny was the Bronze Sony Entertainment Award winner for his afternoon show and since March 2007, in addition to his BBC London Weekday Show, Danny has also been doing a regular All Day Breakfast Show Podcast.