THE RUSSELL Brand and Jonathan Ross phone call row has prompted a “nervousness” in speech radio that will make it hard for broadcasters to “push the boundaries”, according to sacked TalkSport presenter, Jon Gaunt.
He made the remarks as a guest speaker at a Coventry University media – two days after the UTV talk radio station fired him as its mid-morning presenter for calling a councillor a “Nazi” and an “ignorant pig” on air.
Gaunt said the actions of the BBC’s Ross and Brand – who left offensive messages on actor Andrew Sachs’ voicemail – had adversely affected the risk-taking culture of speech radio, considering their actions “circuitous” and of no “comedic value”. “The atmosphere has changed, and that is worrying,” he said.
“What has happened as a result of that going out is a nervousness. It’s really there in the commercial sector.“I think we need less regulation, and I can’t really understand why we have such regulation. There is a danger of where the next Kenny Everett is going to come from, to challenge and push the boundaries.”
Gaunt added: “We are all mature, and if we don’t like something we can turn it off, because it is a very personal medium. I want to do what I do. I want to be Jon Gaunt, and I hope people see me as honest, straight, and pioneering a different kind of radio.”
According to research by trade title The Radio Magazine, Gaunt was the most complained-about presenter on British radio last year, notching up 48 Ofcom complaints, although none of these were upheld by the communications regulator.
Gaunt said he had already received “three or four job offers” since his dismissal from TalkSport and would take whatever time necessary to “consider my options”.
He will continue to write his regular column for The Sun newspaper.His immediate replacement throughout the investigation into his remarks was Ian Collins. He will continue to occupy the mid-morning current affairs role “indefinitely” according to the station.
Gaunt refused to be drawn on whether TalkSport was right to sack him, but said he was unremorseful about the personal comments he made during the interview with Redbridge councillor, Michael Stark over plans to prevent parents who smoked from fostering children.
“I lost my rag with that councillor who thought it was wrong for smokers to foster,” Gaunt said.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s much better for children to be looked after and to have a stable childhood.”
He added: “I don’t want the conversation to be about me, I want it to be about children in care. That’s why I lost my temper as there are 60,000 kids in care who need looking after.”