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Absolute Radio’s Christian O’Connell (alongside producer Richie)

Christian Jumps the Canyon

Absolute Radio’s Christian O’Connell (alongside producer Richie) gave an excellent talk about the ideas behind his award-winning breakfast show.

Taking inspiration from Evel Knievel, Christian talked about the need to make a leap each morning. “To take an idea, rev it up and see if you can jump over the canyon”.

A child ringing in asking how many breadcrumbs it would take to build his house turned into a multi-show feature. Christian’s listeners joined in to help answer the question accurately.
Often the show uses Twitter to pre-test ideas and see the kind of response they get to see whether they should try it on air. A random twitter conversation about wearing slippers outside of the house turned into a riff about whether The Fonz would do such a thing. An email to the actor asking the question then evolved into a regular ‘Ask Fonzie’ part of the show.

Christian also felt it was important to take inspiration from many different sources. A listener emailed saying how unhappy they were about an anti-smoking advert being on the show, and how it made his children upset as their mother smoked. Rather than just ignoring the letter, they talked about it on-air, asking listeners about whether they should carry on playing the advert. Clearly cancer touches many people in different ways, but it’s not a topic normally covered on breakfast shows. It turned out to be one of their most responded to topics.

A key tenet of the programme is to make listeners a part of the show – “Together we’re making every radio show. We’re an inclusive club”. An evolving storyline about racing mobility scooters resulted in a crowd-sourced race day, with listeners volunteering to help out and to film the event.

Many of Christian’s examples were about the evolution of ideas, setting a big premise, then being able to deliver big conclusions. A competition where listeners would encourage celebrities to ring show saw responses from William Shatner and Liam Gallagher, but finally ended when a sitting Prime Minister, Tony Blair, rang in to take part.


Prime Minsters also seem to be a running theme. Before he was elected David Cameron came on the show and when asked about Twitter said the phrase “Too many tweets might make a twat”, causing a media storm.

Christian clearly works hard to put ideas and their development at the heart of his show and trying to follow his hero Evel Knievel – always working to make things that jump the canyon.