Ken Bruce, 72, is transferring to Greatest Hits Radio after four successful decades hosting for the BBC – and he will now be leaving a month earlier than anticipated after some reportedly felt that his presence on air was an advertisement for the rival station. Ahead of his last show this Friday, Simon Mayo has spoken out, exclaiming he’s surprised that the 72-year-old wasn’t ousted sooner.
Ken has stated that he would happily have continued at the channel until the end of March, but that he’d been asked to stop broadcasting sooner.
He told the Daily Mail that he’d been called in for a chat and told his final show would be a week later, leaving almost a month on his contract which he will not be able to fulfil.
Now, Simon – who will be Ken’s colleague after his transfer to Greatest Hits Radio – has claimed that the situation has been “handled badly”.
“I think what’s surprising is that it lingered as long as it did,” he insisted on Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch podcast.
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The 64-year-old continued: “Ken is an advert for Greatest Hits Radio now so I can understand why they might have thought we need to hasten these things.”
He added: “It’s unfortunate because it does feel messy… I can imagine in commercial radio he might have been out the door sooner.”
Meanwhile, he gloated that his station could now capitalise on the BBC’s loss.
“The BBC dropped the ball… and we’re very keen to pick it up!” he exclaimed.
He predicted that his station would gain new listeners who had grown up with Ken and wanted to follow his broadcasts beyond the channel he’d been on before.
“If the BBC is deciding to do less, [that’s] maybe a good thing. Then there’s an opportunity for us to do more,” he insisted.
Simon cheekily added that there might be “many more” broadcasters from the BBC who’d be “welcome” if they decided to switch.
He mused: “After a certain number of years, you want to work where you are wanted and as soon as you feel that you might not be, that’s not a nice situation.
“Then when you go to a place where you are wanted, that’s like getting in a jacuzzi and that’s a great place to be!”
Ken’s announcement that he’d be switching stations came as Paul O’Grady also handed in his notice on Radio 2.
He’d been asked to share his slot with 37-year-old Rob Beckett, who is three decades his junior, and decided to opt out.
The loss of the long-term presenters sparked an “ageism” row, amid claims the BBC was too keen to attract a younger audience.
“Radio 2 has changed, it’s not what it was. They’re trying to aim for a much younger audience, which doesn’t make sense because you’ve got Radio 1 [for that],” Paul O’Grady recently stated to the Metro.
“Radio 2 was always for an older audience,” the For The Love of Dogs star added sorrowfully.
Vanessa Feltz, who is 61, then claimed there could be “ageism” involved and suggested that older personalities are less “valued”.
However, Radio 2 adamantly denied her claims in a statement in which it added that the channel “is hugely proud of having a range of presenters from their 30s to 80 years old”.
The station added that the age range “hasn’t changed in decades” and that Ken had been with them since the age of 32.
The statement concluded: “[We] will continue to be a multi-generational radio station that serves a 35-plus audience with listeners tuning in each week to our brilliant range of programmes, hosted by some of the UK’s best-loved presenters.”
Meanwhile, Ken has stated to the Daily Mail that he is “disappointed” and “a little surprised” that he could not continue at the BBC until the end of his contract.
Some loyal and dedicated fans have blasted the channel for its “classless” decision to drop him sooner than necessary, but have vowed they will now join him on his new radio journey.
Ken’s last show for the BBC is at 9:30am on Friday March 3, while the podcast interview with Simon Mayo can be found here.
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