Why Sharon and John are radio's odd couple

AS A breakfast pairing, they're muesli meets bacon and eggs, they're wholesome porridge alongside pancakes and heavy maple syrup.

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Smooth Radio presenters Sharon Oakley and John McCauley believe their chalk-and-cheese characters add spice to their breakfast show
Smooth Radio presenters Sharon Oakley and John McCauley believe their chalk-and-cheese characters add spice to their breakfast show

And they shouldn't really work.

Smooth Radio breakfast presenters John McCauley and Sharon Oakley are a generation apart, they have different tastes in music and entirely different personal interests.

Yet, somehow, when the Weekend Evening Times' columnists come together they form an infectious, funny, double act who keep the airwaves alive with their chat.

It begs the question, why have the couple gelled so well in the past six years?

It seems the differences don't impede the partnership; they give it a dynamic.

The fact there's a generation between the pair seems to help. But rather than defer to her older breakfast show partner, on listening to the show it seems Sharon treats John like a naughty schoolboy – who's just claimed the dog has eaten his homework.

"Oh yes, that's because he can be," says Sharon in mock schoolteacher voice.

"He really can be very difficult."

She adds, laughing: "Sometimes I do find myself telling him off. But that's the way of things."

John grins as he nods in agreement: "She tells me off quite a lot."

What's fascinating about the pair, relaxing after their show at the Real Radio HQ in Baillieston, is the relationship between them is exactly as it emerges once the microphones are switched on.

They really are complete opposites; 40-year-old Sharon, who has a young daughter with her partner, is Paisley born but grew up in various cities throughout the UK.

Sharon is naturally upbeat, quite the natural performer on air and in live shows, having kicked off a radio career at Radio Clyde as a eye-in-the-sky traffic reporter.

John, however, is a cheery 58-year-old single father-of-three boys and a wry observer of life, whose radio career began in 1981 at West Sound in Ayrshire before going on to work at Clyde.

John, who was the first voice on Smooth Radio Glasgow back in March 2007 (a year later he was joined on the show by Sharon) isn't at all comfortable with public appearances.

But somehow the opposites work out. Yet, that doesn't mean John is regarded as the older, sage-like figure.

"Oh, no," says Sharon, laughing, while John nods his head in agreement.

The partnership has proved hugely popular with listeners, however, they didn't choose to join forces.

Station policy determined that a male/female on-air partnership was the way to go, and John, who had flown the airwaves solo for 30 years, suddenly found himself with a young, breezy female co-pilot.

"I'd never worked as a double act," says John.

"And to be honest, you never really know how things will work out. But it's been fantastic."

Sharon, a Caledonian University graduate, was certainly up for the challenge.

"I just jumped in with both feet," she says, grinning.

But it seems the breakfast show works because both are clever enough not to try to be the loudest voice.

They tease each other, but they are prepared to listen to each other.

"I think the secret, if there is one, is we get on in real life," says Sharon.

"And you have to be generous to the other person."

What seems to work is they don't agree on many subjects; they'll bring their own take on things to the show, and then disagree on air.

But it's a gentle disagreement that breakfast listeners can digest easily, such as vegetarian Sharon trying to convince John to try Quorn sausages.

"I'm coming round to the cause," says John in deliberate battle-weary voice.

And they admit they do work hard on their daily diet of trivia.

"The days of opening up a mic and saying what's in your head are gone," says John, smiling.

"Spontaneity is fine ... provided it's well-planned."

The pair will talk about everything, from the service provided by the Post Office to Sharon's wardrobe malfunctions.

"I talk about how I tied my roses up with my old tights and the gussets were showing," she says, laughing.

Listeners have delighted in Sharon regaling them with tales of her latest renovation project; she loves to buy junk and do it up.

"I think what also works is we have very different reference points," says John.

"There are things like songs, or groups I mention which Sharon has never heard of. And vice-versa. It makes it interesting."

However, while the Smoothies are friends away from the microphone, they have something of a Morecambe and Wise relationship; they don't holiday together or indeed spend their time together outside of office hours.

"We're with each other every day on the radio, so that's enough," says Sharon.

John agrees: "You have to be apart to be able to bring something to the show. But when we do come together it's really great fun."

Sharon however has the last word. "It's fantastic," she says.

"As long as I keep John in line we'll be fine."

l The Smooth Radio Breakfast Show, from 6am. Read John and Sharon's column in the Evening Times every Saturday

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