You may remember that a few years ago we interviewed Katt about acting with the Renegade Saints – now we’re chatting to Katt and Mark about hosting the Breakfast Show on WRS. They tell all, from why listeners love the show to the weirdest news they’ve reported on – and how to handle awkward pauses!
Can you tell us what you think your listeners like most about WRS?
MB: I think that our listeners like the fact that there’s an information source in English. We help them discover, keep up-to-date with local Swiss news, and feel more attached to this region, and to Switzerland as a whole. We can help them find their way around a bit. We believe it’s a valuable service to them, as well as to the region itself.
KC:I think listeners like the mix of music, banter and local knowledge that they get with WRS! We have listeners that have been tuning in for 25 years, as well as people that have arrived in Switzerland recently and know they only have a few years here (although I know lots of people that thought they’re coming here on a work contract for a few years and are still here 20 years later…). Our listeners use WRS to learn about what’s happening as well as often hear a reaction to what’s happening, and find out how best to experience being in this incredible place.
What do you love most about hosting the Breakfast Show?
KC: I love the interaction. I love it when people write in and we get a conversation going, often about the silliest of things: perhaps we might ask about people’s weekends, their favourite cafe, or their top tips when hiking – whatever it is – sometimes we get some great comments that make me giggle (often on-air!). I launched a show about a year ago called Choose a Tune where one guest joins me for 5 days (Mon-Fri) and chooses 5 different songs that they love. I phone them each day and we have a little chat about the song before playing it. I love this segment. Interacting and speaking with our listeners helps me get to know our listeners better, as well as their music preferences. Anyone can write in and say they want to join in, but we do have a lot of musicians who are keen: pro and amateur, and we often play their music. This has to be one of my favourite parts of the show now. I’m also just a curious person so being able to ask people a bunch of questions for a living is a great fit.
MB: Well I’m naturally a morning person. I feel far more alert and creative from 4am. For all radio stations, Breakfast is the most important slot on-air, and that’s certainly true for WRS. Because I feel we’re fulfilling a need in this area, I feel very proud that we’ve been doing it for so long. And people seem very appreciative of what we do and tune in every morning.
KC: For the record I am still not a “morning person”. That’s just Mark.
A fun fact about yourselves?
KC: I’ve worked as an actor, a circus performer, a burlesque artist, and now a radio host and director… but I’ve also worked in marketing and briefly for a law firm. They all have quite different dress codes! My first experience in radio was a 2-hour Sunday evening rock/metal show on my university radio station “Insanity FM” where a friend and I would play Deftones and Marilyn Manson from our own CD collections. I had absolutely no idea back then that it’d become a career for me.
MB: Before I started my radio career, one of my first jobs was driving armoured trucks, delivering cash to banks. One time we were picking up well over a million pounds in cash at the Bank of England. Just for fun, I once tried to see what the maximum amount of cash that I could physically carry was (in these big vacuum sealed bricks of cash they came in). The answer was £400,000. I’ve never met anyone who can beat me and say they’ve held more money – in cash – in their hands at one time. I think I did it just so I’d be able to beat anyone with this record forever.
What’s the funniest or strangest piece of Swiss news you’ve reported on?
KC: 2018 seemed to have an unreasonable amount of stories that featured mountain goats. Whether it was missing mountain goats, or animal rights activists stealing goats, there really were an unusual amount of stories about goats in a short period of time. I’d chuckle to myself whenever another goat story came up. I’d really like this pandemic to be over so we can get back to great goat news.
MB: Several years ago an Iberia aircraft was coming in to land at Geneva airport when its front wheel didn’t come down, so the airport covered the runway with foam so it could come to a safe landing. Fortunately it did and no one was hurt. But I got calls from radio stations around the world who wanted a local reporter to explain the situation. Over the next 24 hours I was on radio stations across the UK, Australia and the US talking about this one plane.
Who do you regularly interview on WRS?
KC: I used to interview a lot of people about events! That’s coming back a little bit now! Phew. I often talk to festival directors, event organizers and artists. We have regular contributors from the United Nations in our weekly show UN RoundUp, the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce and the American International Club and I’m really excited that we’re just about to start up collaborations with Things To Do In Geneva in the coming weeks and The Lausanne Guide.
I think these groups are all enriching the experience for internationals in the area so it’s great to have a platform where I can invite them in and find out more about them!
MB: I’ve also been speaking to Henk Potts from Barclays Private Bank for more than 20 years. Henk gives a daily round-up of the latest financial news, but we also have fun with the local news and our personal lives. We’ve now got such a history, I actually introduced Henk to his wife. It’s become much more than just the Business News [worldradio.ch/henk].
Katt, you’re also a member of the Renegade Saints, a local improv group (a comedy format in which the performers make up the scene on the spot). How does performing improv help being on the radio, and vice versa?
KC: I literally wouldn’t be at WRS without improv. I first came to WRS as a show performer for a radio prank back in 2014 and the station contacted the Renegade Saints. After I came in, I figured it all looked like a lot of fun and so asked how to be more involved. Shortly after that I started volunteering on the Breakfast Show. Nine months later I started here full time and had my own mid-morning show.
Improv helps with anything you do professionally though as it’s literally brain training for how to deal with the unexpected. Improv can help in so many professional situations, but it’s true that there are a lot of unexpected moments on live radio; maybe that’s interviewees going completely off-topic, or last minute cancellations, or a listener comment or question that might change the whole direction of the show, or tech issues that you have to cover up by talking about a topic for a full minute that you haven’t prepared for at all… so I’m constantly improvising at work!
Another great rule of improv is ‘make your partner look good’ and this is definitely something I can apply to radio with interviewees. If people are nervous, I’m often told I’m good at making them feel at ease and supported – and I credit improv with teaching me that!! I have the radio experience, but my guest has the knowledge about their particular topic, so we work together – we’re a team!
Likewise though, being on the radio has helped hone improv skills, by practicing it every day.
Mark, you’re known as the “Voice of Geneva” – we just have to know more about that!
MB: Am I? I guess that’s because I’ve been doing it now for so long. I never would have thought when this radio station started, back in 1996 when this radio station started, that I’d still be here 25 years later. I hope that says something about the fact that people like what we’re doing. I’ve never had anyone say they’re fed up with me – for which I’m very grateful.
And of course we want to know what you love to do in Geneva!
KC: I find it’s pretty seasonal. I’ll be eating fondue all winter (I love the vibe at Bains de Paquis), and on my stand-up-paddle board most of summer (anywhere between Versoix and Peney). I can’t wait to watch live music again! And dance!
MB: In more recent years my interests have switched from eating and drinking (always a great thing to do in Geneva as there’s such fantastic choice), now I enjoy the outdoors more, on my bike around the vineyards and recently, I’ve bought an inflatable kayak and the rivers and lakes around the region are fantastic for that.
HOW TO LISTEN
Tune in 24/7 to WRS on DAB+ in Geneva, Vaud and Valais. Or listen anywhere via the WRS app and on their website: worldradio.ch (click on “Listen Live”).
Tune in to the WRS Breakfast Show with Mark and Katt every weekday morning between 06:30 – 10:00.
You can also listen on Amazon Alexa, Echo or Apple HomePod devices.
We also have to add that WRS has the best Twitter feed ever – follow them and you won’t be disappointed! https://twitter.com/wrs