by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 188
5 MINUTES Formula One has often been criticized for being too specialist to engage the casual motorsport fan, with only the rarified feel-good stories of Brawn GP or team order controversies providing a fleeting spike in audience figures. To crack this fickle market, F1 need look no further than Australia's weekly iconoclastic Formula One radio show Box of Neutrals. GPWeeK's Trent Price caught up with BoN hosts Rob James, Michael Lamonato and Peter McGinley. GPWeeK: Where did the idea for Box of Neutrals come from? Rob: The nub of the idea started in March 2010, when Michael said he had a spare grandstand ticket to the Australian Grand Prix. We were watching a weatherman do a live cross while a two-seater Minardi was screaming past in the background. We thought; how stupid is that? But how cool would it be to have that job? So we spent the next three years doing it. Michael: Basically, Rob and I were in a lecture together and we were just so bored that we spent the two hours just coming up with ideas for the show. Rob: We gave each other an assignment to come up with a list of 5 potential names [for the show]. I came up with silly ones like Speedcafe and Autosport (laughs) and one I threw in called Box of Neutrals... It was kind of a stop-gap name until we came up with something better. Three-and-a-half years later and it's still Box of Neutrals. Michael: And then we stumbled on [Peter] McGinley. Peter: Yeah, I think I was just sitting in the studio [at Syn Radio] one night when Michael and Rob needed a panel operator. At the time I'd already knocked back the same free ticket Rob got to the Oz GP because I knew nothing about Formula One. Michael: [laughs] Yes, I remember offering the ticket to you and you saying, ‘No! Why would I want that?’ Three years later, you're flying to Malaysia, China, and Bahrain to cover grands prix! So it's been a journey for everyone, but particularly Peter. But surely that's the beauty of the show – listeners don't need to know a huge amount about the sport to start with? Rob: Yes, this is why Peter has a microphone. He always pegs us back. Whenever we got too obscure with stories about Ferrari's 1991 championship season, Peter would always go ‘what are you talking about?’ Michael: And ‘who is Gerhard Berger? [laughs] But there are so many quality sources of Formula One journalism there was no point in us giving news updates, we had to be different. Rob: Why put on the facade of someone who has four times as much F1 experience than we do? So it's a program where anyone can listen and understand. Peter: Like easy-listening music... Without the music. We have people message us saying ‘I know f***-all about F1 but I love the show’. Michael: I think shouting loud enough and an affinity with sound effects covered for our lack of knowledge! You obviously shouted loud enough because you've been picked up by ABC Grandstand. How's the transition been? Michael: At the start it was a case of ‘let's not piss anyone off’... Rob: Jumping from community radio, the only difference was the format and a slightly different audience. It's taken us a month to get back to our comfort zone. Peter: We also now have a more tailored audience, being on a sports station, and can do more of what we've always wanted to do. Rob: Yeah, coincidently when we were pitching the show the ABC wanted to do more motorsport so it was perfect. Michael: Fundamentally the aim is to promote motorsport but be a bit different, which resonated with the ABC's idea of what radio programming needs to be. Rob: We had an offer from another station to do breakfast radio, but just as personalities, so when the ABC offered a chance to continue covering F1 we took it. Commercial radio's loss is Formula One's gain. You can listen to BoN every Friday at 3:30pm (Australian EST) or 6:30am GMT, or live every grand prix Sunday on ABC Grandstand at ABC.net. au/Grandstand. Podcasts of each Friday show are available at www.boxofneutrals.com 5 MInuTES WITh BOX OF nEuTRAlS! 20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: