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Behind the scenes of kmfm with Garry and Chelsea, Andy Walker and Rob Wills

It fills our cars on the school run, our kitchens at dinner time and the office throughout the day. And while you bob your head to the latest tunes on kmfm and laugh along with the presenters, there’s a whole lot of work going on to get Kent’s radio station on air.

Reporter Megan Carr went to the studio to find out what goes on away from the mic.

Chelsea Little behind the scenes at kmfm. Picture: Megan Carr
Chelsea Little behind the scenes at kmfm. Picture: Megan Carr

I am sure most of you just think Garry and Chelsea sit on their chairs, have a laugh, introduce the next song and interact with each other and the audience before heading home after their shift finishes at 10am. Sounds easy. Right?

But that’s not quite the case.

The day starts for presenters Garry Wilson and Chelsea Little and newsreader Lucy Hickmott at 5am so they’re ready for the show from 6am.

I joined them from the start in the studio and watched intently as the presenting duo scoured social media for the latest reactions to stories and breaking news.

In the short three minutes that Ed Sheeran’s and Justin Bieber’s “I Don’t Care” played, Chelsea had collected reactions from kmfm’s Facebook page question about Friday the 13th and Garry had sourced and rehearsed his lines about what was happening on Kent’s roads that morning.

The pair continued this research and line practising throughout their four-hour show.

This month is also Poptober and to celebrate kmfm’s favourite artists, Garry and Chelsea have been holding competitions where listeners can phone in for their chance to win tickets for concerts.

Garry, who has been with kmfm for 10 years, explained that although they do a lot on kmfm live, sometimes they have to do pre-recordings when phone calls from listeners are involved.

He said: “It’s the planning on days and weeks before a show that people don’t really know we do.

“We plan things out, see what’s coming up , what is big and happening in the world and in Kent and what is big for our listeners.”

Garry Wilson, breakfast presenter. Picture: Megan Carr
Garry Wilson, breakfast presenter. Picture: Megan Carr

Garry explained that he enjoys hosting the breakfast show as he can be the first person to tell others what is going on in the world on that day.

He added: “I like being the first to tell people stuff and talking to them and getting their stories from all across the county.”

His co-host, Chelsea, has been working as part of the kmfm team for just over a year.

She said: “We drink a lot of coffee, eat a lot of snacks, cause a lot of chaos and interact with all our listeners.

“They’re the best, they’re literally what makes the show so much fun and the joy that it is.”

Breakfast presenter, Chelsea Little. Picture: Megan Carr
Breakfast presenter, Chelsea Little. Picture: Megan Carr

Chelsea, who has a background in the West End, explained that it is “ridiculous” that she gets to call her job a job because her days are full of so much laughter and fun.

She added: “You are literally non-stop, I have about 20 internet tabs open at one time and that’s just the live stuff.

“In between the songs and talking bits, we’re making sure we’re prepped and synced and stories are easily explained.

“You’re constantly looking for inspiration and constantly replying to the listeners and making it about them as much as possible.”

Newsreader Lucy, who has been with kmfm for five years, reads the bulletins every hour until 10am and then spends the rest of her shift researching stories, writing scripts, editing audio, doing interviews, and prepping things for the next day.

Newsreader Lucy Hickmott. Picture: Megan Carr
Newsreader Lucy Hickmott. Picture: Megan Carr

She said: “Because people only hear the news bulletin for two minutes every hour they think that’s all we do.

“But there is a lot more to it. We manage all our social media, we edit videos from interviews we do, we’re cutting things for the podcast and liaising with colleagues over stories we’re going to run.”

After an energetic morning with the breakfast team, I had the chance to shadow Andy Walker during his daytime show.

Andy has been with the station for 15 years and preps for about three-quarters of his five-hour show.

Behind the scenes, he is looking for breaking news that’ll fill the remainder of his segment.

Andy Walker, daytime presenter. Picture: Megan Carr
Andy Walker, daytime presenter. Picture: Megan Carr

He said: “Because my show is five hours other newsy bits, like showbiz, will develop over that time so I’m always mindful that I keep a little bit open to fill that in.”

Andy is always on the prowl for showbiz stories, relatable content, and things people have been talking about overnight such as a trending TV show.

While Andy, Garry, Chelsea and Lucy are the main voices of the show, they’re also supported by a team off-air

While head of music and imaging producer don’t sound quite as exciting as a presenter, without them you’d have none of your favourite songs to sing along to or the funky little jingles in between them.

Liam Cash is not only the head of music but also the station producer, which means he schedules all the music you hear on kmfm around the clock.

Liam Cash, head of music. Picture: Megan Carr
Liam Cash, head of music. Picture: Megan Carr

He said: “It's a big task on its own, deciding all the songs we play, the categories and why we should play these songs.

“I’m also responsible for producing a lot of the shows and sort out a lot of the interviews.

“Most recently we had DJ Joel Corry on the show.”

Over the years JLS, Olly Murs, Mimi Webb, and Ed Sheeran are some of the other famous faces that been interviewed and played on the station.

Jon Young is another man working hard away from the microphone.

Jon Young, deputy programme manager. Picture: Megan Carr
Jon Young, deputy programme manager. Picture: Megan Carr

The imaging producer and deputy programming manager make all the sounds of the station.

All the music and noises you hear between the songs, the news and sponsorship jingles are all made by Jon from his booth at the studio.

He said: “We make the station sound spooky for Halloween or festive for Christmas. I’m always coming up with ideas on how to make the station sound.

“People do have to remember that in the background there are guys like me sitting there and making stuff.

“To be honest it is the most creative and free thing you can do. You’ve got absolute free reign to make something from scratch and that’s what excites me.”

Drivetime presenter, Rob Wills. Picture: Megan Carr
Drivetime presenter, Rob Wills. Picture: Megan Carr

As my day with kmfm drew to a close, I had a chat with Rob Wills.

Not only is he the head of broadcast for kmfm but he also hosts the drivetime show from 4pm.

Rob, who’s been in his role for more than 10 years, says his favourite thing about kmfm is the “privilege” to “drive change”.

He said: “You can change someone’s mood that’s just got in the car because they’ve had a bad day and you’ve told them something funny but we’ve also making change through out charity work.”

In kmfm’s latest charity campaign, the radio station managed to collect more than six tonnes of food for food banks.

With more people than ever relying on food banks to get by, kmfm set out to collect as many tonnes of tins as possible.

Between July 3 and August 11, listeners and readers of KentOnline brought tins of beans, soup and other food to kmfm’s offices in Medway.

The team managed to secure 6.77 tonnes of groceries, which were delivered to UK Harvest, a charity that works across the south of England to rescue any surplus food and redistribute it to charities and community food hubs.

Rob added: “When you think about what local radio means, it has changed dramatically over the years and we have too.

“We have to be aware of the change that we can drive and the charity work we do is important because actually if we can use kmfm to make Kent better, why wouldn’t we do that?

“That’s what local radio used to stand for, and in my opinion, should be about.”

After spending a day lurking around the kmfm studios I found a new interest in what happens behind the scenes when the mic is off.

I also now have a new respect for the fabulously talented people who make all the catchy radio jingles without getting any named credit.

Next time I’m on my way to work and I pop on the breakfast show with Garry and Chelsea I’ll definitely be thinking of the pair of them in a scramble getting ready to tell me the latest showbiz gossip whilst I’m enjoying singing along to the latest hits.

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