So with a minor amount of fanfare and somewhat little surprise, the BBC Radio 2 controller job is going to Bob Shennan – former head of 5Live and most recently Channel 4 Radio’s Director of Radio (until they bailed out of radio).
Is this a good thing – and is it really a surprise?
Well – he knows the BBC politics inside out (having run 5Live for 8 years and launched 5Live Sports extra). And maybe Radio 2 needs a steadying influence over the next few years – to help recover from the blows it’s been receiving. Does it matter that he’s not got much music radio experience? He’s got the incredible music mind of Jeff Smith to steer the music – so no worries there. And he’s injected a large dose of personality (and ego) into 5Live – so maybe he’s the man to bring the new blood in.
But what are his main challenges?
1)Decide what to do when Wogan goes? Evans? Baker and Ball?
2)Protect Wossy. The pressure is being piled on him by the tabloids. Let the guy do his job and give him the editorial confidence to do it
3)Tweak the focus – let me know exactly what I’ll get when I listen.
4)Ignore all the armchair pundits – what do we really know?
The trouble with Radio 2 is that it has a really loyal core audience (much like Radio 4 – where it’s impossible to make any wholesale changes to the schedule without angering the career complainers). It’s a station with a split personality. At one end of the room, there’s the cool furniture where Chris Evans and Jonathan Ross sit- being entertaining and edgy. Then there’s comfy leather sofas where you’ll find Wogan and Ken Bruce chuckling away and delivering a warm cosy feeling. Steve Wright sits midway – doing the same sort of radio he’s always done. Jeremy Vine sits in a big chair by the window reading the Broadsheets (whilst secretly wanting to rock out all day). And out back, there’s the old time shows, musicals, big band – and buried away, the excellent documentaries
I want to like it – and I listen loads now. But I want to love it.
Will we get a killer lineup of Chris Evans, Jonathan Ross, Simon Mayo, Danny Baker (with Zoe Ball), Nicky Campbell, Stuart McConie, and Mark Radcliffe. Oh – and throw in a side order of Wogan at the weekends. And yes, Whispering Bob for late night Saturday night drives. And could we dare hope for Richard Bacon too?
It’s a dream job Bob. Enjoy…