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Heart 106: Behind The Scenes

November 2010

TAKE That are running late.
Well, a track from their forthcoming album is.
“It’s one you’ve not heard before,” says Sam Pinkham, one half of the Heart Breakfast team.
“And we’ll be playing it before nine.”
A few minutes later Simon The Producer, which is how he likes to be known, informs Sam and co-host Amy Voce that there’s been a delay sending it from the record company.
Take That are a perfect example of the sort of music Heart 106 listeners want to hear.
“They’re women in their thirties,” says Sam.
The fourth member of the team is Dangerous Dave.
“I make coffee and do the birthday rap,” he says. Listeners with a birthday, write in with their name, age, where they’re from, hobbies, etc. and Dave creates a rap.
“I’m engaged to a woman,” he says, responding to Sam’s off-air ribbing about his sexuality.
“Yes, I’m the whipping boy,” he admits, although his official title is assistant producer.
“He’s showing off,” chirps Amy, 27, referring to co-presenter Sam, who is insisting the pair are actually an item.
“We’ve had our moments in the back of taxis,” Sam, 35, continues.
“Stop it!” barks Amy.
They’re not an item. As listeners will have heard this week, she has just moved in with her boyfriend.
“He looks like the singer out of Biffy Clyro,” grins Sam, who is married to a behavioural psychologist. The couple have a 14-month-old daughter, Ellie.
He says: “We talk about our personal lives a lot and that’s something you don’t get with other Heart presenters. Emma Bunton or Jamie Theakston won’t reveal too much.”
Although it can backfire.
“I do warn my wife what I’m going to talk about and she does agree up to a certain point. But when I’m on air I get overexcited and go too far.
“She hates the stereotype about men being wild and the woman having to keep an eye of them. I made a joke along those lines about us and she sent a text that said simply ‘Thanks!’”
Amy runs through her segment of Celebrity Sleaze about the Backstreet Boys, The X Factor and something about Cheryl Cole.
“That’s the only time I’ve seen Sam intimidated when she came in to the studio with some of the others from Girls Aloud,” she says.
They’ve been hosting Heart Breakfast for five years, broadcasting across the East Midlands from Citylink, a stone’s throw from BBC Nottingham.
Sam ‘drives the desk’, effectively controlling on-air content, behind a bank of six screens.
Amy sits opposite, by a window that looks out on to a row of wheelie bins.
“I like it and the pigeons who come to visit,” says the former Nottingham Trent student, who, like Sam, lives in West Bridgford.
Next to her is Simon The Producer.
“He reigns us in, really,” says Sam.
He tips them off when a record is about to finish, if they’re too engrossed in gossiping or winding each other up. He’ll also conjure ideas for the following day’s show -- listed on a wipe board on the wall. There’s a competition to meet Michael Buble in New York. Another to win £5,000.
Each show runs from 6am to 10am.
“We’re done for the day around 1pm,” says Amy, who admits she can be the grumpiest member of the team when they all arrive at 5.30am.
“But I’m not the worst for flatulence. That’s Sam and Simon, definitely.”
It’s gone nine o’clock and the Take That song still hasn’t arrived.
Through a small window, below the ceiling-mounted TV screening Sky News, sits news reporter Corozan.
“And that’s Jennifer, who mans the phones and makes us coffee,” says Sam, nodding to the young woman in the fake leopard skin coat sat in the opposite studio.
“Or Jenny-phwoarr,” he adds.
“Because she’s a looker.”
In January, Heart 106 will be renamed Gem 106 and there’ll be a greater emphasis on local content, with all programmes broadcast from Nottingham 24 hours a day.
“The music policy will be pretty much the same,” says Sam, who will remain with Amy on the breakfast show.
“That there will be all the presenters in the building will make for better radio because we’ll be able to refer to each other.”
He adds: “Becoming more local is going against the grain of what’s happening with commercial radio. A lot of their programming will be syndicated, the same show broadcast across the country. Which means they won’t be able to talk about local issues or make any local references. People like us talking about local stuff.”
“And we can do the traffic,” adds Amy.
“The best thing about the job is that it doesn’t feel like work,” she says.
“I know that sounds corny but it’s true. We’ve done some incredible stuff, like interviewing Ricky Gervais, Gary Barlow - a personal hero - and Gok Wan. We’ve danced in front of Torvill and Dean and the Strictly judges.
“The worst is that Sam slurps when he’s eating cereal. And he has cotton wool for a brain. He never reads emails or remembers anything.”
“It’s true,” says Sam, with a shrug.
With just ten minutes to go before they’re off-air, the Take That track, called Eight Letters, taken from their forthcoming album, finally lands in its digital in box.

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