Ollie Baines chats to one of football’s nice guys, TV & Radio presenter, Jonny Gould.
Hi Jonny, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at Cross The Line.
Jonny, can you introduce yourself and what you do?
“I’m the MD of Sportsmedia, a radio and social media content provider to stations and websites throughout the UK and world. What does that mean. If you hear a bulletin on local radio – or click on an interview @SportsmediaUK, we generated it! I’m also a regular pundit on Sky News, BBC Radio Five Live and when I want to moan about Sepp Blatter, Al Jazeera.”
How have you come to be where you are now?
“Such a long answer – it’s taken 26 years of adult working time to get here. Put it this way, we are the sum total of our choices (philosophy, eh?) I have spent much of my time in independent radio and tv – but seen a lot of action in the BBC too. I take great pride in having worked with so many big names and big audiences – talking, researching and writing about the things I love. In sponsorship, it’s been about creating audiences funded by brands – without making the broadcasts sound like shopping lists. Listeners and stations first!”
What’s the best thing about your job?
“The best is undoubtedly broadcasting about the subjects you know best. To be able to add insight to a given topic is the only thing that matters. How many times have we seen pundits say nothing about nothing?? In sponsorship, it’s being able to create the right broadcast for the benefit of the listener too.”
What is SportsMedia?
“A life’s work! Founded in 1991 with Jazz FM as our first station, we’ve provided breakfast, lunch and drivetime sports bulletins ever since! In 2007, we added Business News to our skills. Stations and websites take our content for free in exchange for a sponsor message within the environment of the broadcast – but – and it’s a big but, we always make sure the message doesn’t get in the way of the core reason for the broadcast – information, news and interviews.”
Tell us about your days as a TV presenter at Sky
” I love the place – Sky News has the mobility to go after big stories, it has much less of an agenda than other major networks I could mention – and its presenters and correspondents scrutinise and provide insight where other networks talk in euphemism. They also stretch me to journalistic places I’d not been in years. Reviewing the papers means I need a working knowledge of all front-page stories going on – while the sports slots give me a chance to kick back and make (lousy) football tips!”
Do you prefer working on the radio or on TV?
“Radio is my first love – narrating fast and communicating with dexterity are radio’s unique brand values – but TV is just as exciting. And the audiences are so totally different. So now, having done both for so long – I want to continue doing both. No choice to be made!”
You must have done a number of interviews, what’s been your favourite?
“I remember asking England’s new manager Graham Taylor the same question three times before he got tetchy! But my favourites were as Sky’s touchline reporter during live games. You really got the rawness of each manager after victory or defeat – and a real flavour of what life as a professional footballer was like before matches and in training. Sir Alex Ferguson was suspicious of any outsider – but once he got to know you, he was welcoming and encouraging. But for sheer infectious enthusiasm, Sir Bobby Robson was a special football man. I had the pleasure to interview him both as England and Newcastle boss – and at the Toon, he usually broke into a smile during one of his long, long answers! God rest his soul.
Who do you support and why?
” I support Aston Villa because I was told to by Uncle Peter! I’m a third generation Villa supporter – and my Grandpa Benno was the first from 1939 onwards. His typewriter shop was bang next to Aston Station – and that’s it. I’m lucky too because I’ve seen miracles performed in a claret and blue shirt with the League Championship and European Cup. Now we will win an 8th FA Cup … and now you’re gonna believe us!!”
What have you made of Villa’s season?
“It’s like a completely different football club from the one that started in August. We started with three wins out of four and a new contract for Paul Lambert and Roy Keane was number two! Paul Faulkner was CEO – and that’s ALL GONE! New CEO Tom Fox has given us direction and appointed Tim Sherwood. Let’s not forget Christian Benteke was injured for half the season and it took him a dozen uninspired games to fight his way back mentally. Now he’s been the lynchpin of an extraordinary run to the FA Cup Final. Who’s backing against us!?”
Who is your inspiration?
“My dear, late father and all he taught me. In an era where fathers are deemed somehow unimportant – or sidelined in a child’s upbringing, my dad’s leadership, teaching, loving. kindness and example give me the edge every single day of my life.”
Also, if you have religion as I do, it gives you a counter intuition in this confusing secular world. It’s vital in our changing world that religion maintains a constant voice and conscience.”
What are your thoughts on Cross The Line?
“What a great read. Loved reading about Adrian Chiles’ recent sojourn through 46 churches for lent. I think if public figures “did” religion more, were less afraid to be more public about it – we’d be better off as a society.”
And finally, if you could give aspiring football journalists 1 piece of advice, what would it be?
“Get yourself a broad experience and education. Pick a mentor and take the best of his or her best practice and add it to your work. Once you’ve developed a few freelance contacts, specialise!”