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Ken Bruce Warns Radio 2 About Listenership Decline After DJ Departure

Ken Bruce has issued a warning to Radio 2 after the station saw its listenership dwindle by a million.

The veteran DJ, 73, regularly presented the Radio 2 show from 9:30 am to midday for more than 30 years until he left the station in March 2023 to be replaced by Vernon Kay. His decision came after the late Steve Wright was nudged out of his Radio 2 afternoon slot, while Simon Mayo, Graham Norton, and the late Paul O’Grady also stepped down from their respective programs.

The departure of Bruce, who took his beloved quiz segment PopMaster to his new stint at Greatest Hits, led to a sharp drop in listeners. However, earlier this year, figures showed the drop appeared to be leveling off. Radio 2 had an average weekly audience of 13.3 million people from October to December 2023, down seven percent from 14.3 million a year earlier. However, it saw a fall of just one percent from January to March 2024.

Meanwhile, Greatest Hits Radio has seen a large jump in its average audience over the last 12 months, up 70 percent from 4.0 million to 6.8 million. Bruce has now reflected on Radio 2’s decline in listeners and suggested what he thinks could be attributed to the drop.

“There should always be a clear division between Radio 1 and Radio 2,” he told the Beyond the Title podcast, adding: “It’s a state of mind – not just about the music played.”

Bruce also suggested Radio 2 has foolishly been attempting to rebrand itself as “cool,” stating: “When you’re over 35, you’re more comfortable with yourself and don’t mind being uncool. Radio 2 thinking it’s cool is the worst thing we can do.”

A spokesperson for the station said: “Radio 2, the UK’s most listened-to radio station with 13.2m listeners each week, continues to target an audience aged 35+, a target that has remained unchanged for decades.

“Vernon Kay, who presents Radio 2’s weekday mid-morning show, remains the UK’s most listened-to radio program with 6.75m listeners each week,” they added.

While Bruce initially said it was his decision to step down from the BBC, he later accused the corporation of pushing him to leave earlier than he had intended, in a tweet shared shortly before his last show.

“I will be presenting my last show on Radio 2 next Friday,” he wrote on 24 February last year. “I had intended fulfilling my contract until the end of March but the BBC has decided it wants me to leave earlier. Let’s enjoy the week ahead!”

Responding to Bruce’s tweet, a BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “Ken decided to leave Radio 2 and it’s always been known he’s leaving in March. Returning to Wogan House for a week after a month of broadcasting the Piano Room sessions at Maida Vale provided a natural break. We wish Ken all the best for the future.”

Additional reporting by Agencies

Source: The Independent