BBC knives all its stars in the back – Ken Bruce is just the latest, says DAVID HAMILTON | Express Comment | How

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Jimmy Young got it just months after he`d received his knighthood and was replaced by Jeremy Vine. Even Terry Wogan was shunted off to weekends, replaced by Chris Evans. Before that they got rid of Pete Murray whose show Open House was so popular that when it went out on an outside broadcast people queued round the block to watch him do it.

What would they give for that today? When they sacked him they said he was dated, harmonizing his chances of finding work elsewhere.

What a cruel way to treat a loyal servant who had been one of their leading players for many years.

In recent times, I`m told by former colleagues, there has been a cull of presenters, mainly male, on BBC local radio and television who have been encouraged to take early retirement. 60 seems to be the cut-off age.

If they`re on the staff and have a pension, they`re told, “Go now, and you`ll get more money.” If they’re freelance it’s “Thank you and goodbye.”

Which organization would want to shed all that priceless experience?

Ken Bruce, at 71, has lasted longer than many at the Beeb but now Radio 2 is losing its star striker, off to the world of commercial.

He can’t have been happy with his music for a long time.

His listeners have grown up through the golden age of music – The Beatles, The Stones’ greatest hits, the best of Motown and soul.

Most of the modern stuff pales by comparison, yet Radio 2 in the daytime has edged out 60`s music, restricting it to off peak slots.

This would have been a wonderful opportunity for BBC local radio – which has always attracted an older audience – to pick up disaffected Radio 2 listeners.

Yet local radio has decided to go down the same musical route, leaving seniors with no BBC station catering for them at the very time they’re having to pay again for their television (and radio) licence.

Clearly, Radio 2 and BBC local radio are aiming at a younger audience. I can understand that – but there`sa problem.

Young people are not listening to radio in the way my generation does.

There are now so many other ways they can access their music.

In chasing the younger audience, Radio 2 risks alienating the audience it already has and handing them to commercial radio.

It gives me no pleasure to say this. This month is the 60th anniversary of my first radio show in the UK – the Beat Show recorded at the Playhouse Theater in Manchester.

After years on the BBC Light Programme, I was there at the opening of Radio 1 and Radio 2.

What an exciting time. Radio 1 then was the station everyone listened to for their daily dose of pop music.

The music in the charts appealed to all age groups, from grandparents to grandkids, and we sat round the television on Thursday nights to watch Top Of The Pops hosted, naturally, by Radio 1 DJs. Radio 2 was very much a gentle backwater.

In time all this changed. Radio 2, spearheaded by Wogan, became the major player. For how much longer?

Not only are the listeners going, but the presenters as well.

Paul O`Grady chose to spend his Christmas Day with my station, Boom Radio and brought his enormous following with him.

The reaction was such that I think he`ll be booming more in the future.

In 2023 we`re told we mustn’t be racist or sexist, which is right. Ageist, if you`re the BBC, seems OK. Ignore our generation at your peril.

We shall vote with our ears.



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