Graham Young meets the new BBC WM breakfast presenter Pete Morgan.
“Five years on a breakfast show really takes it out of you.
“I understand that it’s the greatest job in the world, but there comes a point where it’s really hard work.”
Those are not the words of BBC WM’s new breakfast star, Pete Morgan.
They were spoken by his new boss Gareth Roberts in March, talking about the strangely-worded ‘standing down’ announcement re the April 27 departure of Morgan’s cycling-mad predecessor, Phil Upton.
Like any radio manager, Roberts knows that the breakfast show is the most important platform for a station to succeed.
So whatever the reasons behind his first major managerial decision at WM, it’s unlikely he’ll ever make a more significant one.
In the end, Robert has made his choice.
And he’s gone for a Morgan who will come to work in a BMW – plenty of hand-crafted Midlands’ flair, then, with lots of reliability as standard.
The paradox is that Morgan will launch his Mailbox career on Bank Holiday Monday having only left BBC Radio Stoke’s breakfast show this Friday after five years of getting up at 3.50am to sit in the hot seat.
To introduce himself, Morgan will even be contributing live outside broadcast links from Diamond Jubilee parties on Sunday when Ed Doolan – a former breakfast presenter at WM in the ‘80s – is on air.
“I enjoy talking to people and, thankfully, they enjoy talking to me,” says Morgan, a big fella blessed with a beaming smile that’s hard to erase from his face.
“In the back of my mind I thought I’d do five years at Stoke.
“Beyond that, a change is as good as a rest.
“Everyone has a story to tell and you can’t deny the strength of a good story, whether it’s happy or sad.
“The West Midlands is a much bigger area than Stoke with a different audience and issues.
“Birmingham is a completely different city.
“It’s clear that I am not a Brummie, but I’ve never felt like an outsider.
“Nobody has ever made me feel like I should not be here.
“Attitudes like that welcome you and keep you here and I have a great deal of affection for Birmingham.”
While Upton was a night owl who found himself up with the larks, Morgan has always been an early riser.
Because his parents were greengrocers and newsagents in the days before petrol stations and supermarkets muscled in on the market, lie-ins were never a teenage option.
It also meant that Morgan was able to build up his current affairs knowledge from the papers and learn the gift of the gab from behind the counter.
Today, father Freddie’s job involves talking to young offenders who have committed crimes all the way up to murder.
And, even though his parents are now in their 60s, they are still fostering children up to four years old.
“Ninety children’s lives have been changed with the time they have spent with mum (Mary) and dad,” says Morgan, who has a 36-year-old sister, Kerry.
Going home to see his parents doesn’t make him wonder who is now sleeping in his bedroom though, because he never lived in the house where they are now based.
But, just like those foster children at home, Morgan is relaxed because he’s appreciating every minute of his own visit to the second chance saloon.
A Mancunian who has worked in Brighton, Bournemouth and Birmingham – ‘all the Bs’ – Morgan went from producing Ed James’ Heart FM breakfast show on Broad Street to working in an office for a couple of years in order to ‘gain an insight into the outside world’.
He might have left radio, but the industry hadn’t forgotten him.
A surprise call after Stoke’s breakfast presenter had left saw him snapping up the chance to return to broadcasting in October, 2007.
It was another call from out of the blue which got Morgan the WM job in February of this year, even though he was off sick on the day.
Impressed by the broadcaster’s “warm” personality, Roberts duly got his man.
Now 39, and just six months younger than when Upton started on WM’s breakfast show, Morgan is raring to get to know the West Midlands in more detail than ever... and for the listeners in turn to get to know him in good time for his 40th on September 5.
Because he’s lived in Sutton Coldfield for years, he’s already settled in the area.
And he’ll be able to get up as late as 4.30am now ready for his 6am to 9am shift on air.
Having known Upton for years, Morgan was even able to sit in on one of his last shows to see how WM worked.
“I produced Phil at Heart and he’s better than a good guy, he’s ridiculously talented,” says Morgan.
“We had spoken all the way through from the moment he announced he was leaving to the announcement of my appointment and met up for dinner a couple of times.
“He was the first person to say to me: ‘Congratulations... you will do a great job. If it can’t be me, I’m glad it’s you’. I thought that was very sweet.”
Post-Upton, Richard Wilford has been manfully standing in for a month now, but will the format change?
“I’ll be getting listeners involved as much as I can in the show,” says Morgan. “It will be about interaction and hearing their voices and opinions.
“I like to have a smile in the morning, you can’t be too serious.
“I just want to put smiles on people’s faces, it’s what people want in the morning. We won’t be Today. We’ll be WM.”
Morgan’s broadcasting heroes include Radio 4’s Eddie Mair, Five Live and Radio 2’s Simon Mayo and former BRMB breakfast host, Les Ross.
“I like good radio,” he says.
“But I’ve never been an anorak, I don’t need to have it on 24/7.”