The FOOLISH BBC has a problem with age, says Mark Dolan

The FOOLISH BBC has a problem with age, says Mark Dolan
The BBC is obsessed with chasing young listen
Mark Dolan

By Mark Dolan

Published: 20/01/2023

- 21:29

Radio Two letting Bruce go? You KEN not be serious!

Beyond our Ken.

BBC radio legend Ken Bruce has been poached by commercial radio after four decades as the king of mid mornings on Radio 2.

Now the BBC are keen to stress he was offered a new contract and Bruce himself has said he's ready for a new challenge. But there's more to this than meets the eye. Or meets the ear, after all, it's the radio – you're welcome.

Because Radio 2 has seen a mass exodus of its premium, older talents.

Yui Mok

Steve Wright, master of afternoon radio, relegated to weekends – not the right decision.

The talented Vanessa Feltz, released from the morning show.

Was her crime being over 60? She said almost as much this week when talking to ITV.

Broadcasting legend, Simon Mayo, first forced into an excruciating drive time, partnership with the hipper, younger Joe Wiley, before leaving not just Radio 2 where he's been for years, but leaving the BBC altogether, where he'd been for decades.

This seems to be a cultural issue across the whole of the organisation – dare I call it ageism. Don’t take my word for it.

Miriam O’Reilly, one of the former hosts of the TV show Countryfile, won a claim of age discrimination against the BBC.

She lost her job in 2008 when Countryfile was moved to a primetime slot. The BBC replaced her with younger presenters.

In her witness statement, Ms O’Reilly said: “I felt as if my life had been cancelled because of something I had no control over – getting older.”

We're told Arlene Phillips was taken off Strictly for the same crime of being a golden oldie, replaced by a more youthful Alesha Dixon.

Now I’m in broadcasting, I understand it's a competitive business. If you don't do the numbers, you're out. And I'm pleased to say, thanks to you, I’m normally beating Sky News about now.

And Mark Dolan Tonight is the home of viral videos, where are my monologues and interviews have so far clocked up over four million online views since the start of the year.

Well Ken Bruce, Simon Mayo, Steve Wright, Vanessa Feltz - all of these legends were delivering the numbers. Ken Bruce’s show is the most listened to radio programme in the country.

Why is the BBC letting him go? Well, in my view, it's their obsession with chasing young listeners and viewers, that frankly, they’re never going to get. Because young people don't watch telly in the same way that we used to, they don't listen to radio in the same way. They've got streaming, they've got YouTube, they download content - it's all fragmented.

And the listeners and viewers that actually keep the BBC going, are the older listeners and viewers, who love the likes Ken Bruce so much. It's older people who willingly pay the license fee, but who are not being served by the organisation itself. Now let me say, that the BBC want to give opportunities to younger talent, and they would argue new voices are going down a treat with the audience.

And they have whole raft of television and radio programmes dedicated to an older audience. But who in their right mind would let Ken Bruce go? And whilst we are told that the talented Zoe Ball on the Radio 2 breakfast show enjoys a salary of just under £1 million, it’s reported that Bruce, with the biggest show on the network, is on £400,000. Great money, but barely enough to pay for Gary Lineker’s cufflinks on Match Of The Day.

And with 8 ½ million listeners a week to his radio show, Bruce is the jewel in the crown. £400,000? He should get a million, because he's one in a million.

He's a proud man and he is discreet. He will get a bumper pay rise at Greatest Hits radio and he will take listeners off auntie - big time. So it could well be, that he is seeking a bit of a payday, before hanging up his microphone. Feather the nest and all that. But he should be getting that, at an organisation where he's already overdelivering.

At the tender age of 71, he could do another decade, and more! The BBC seems to have a problem with older presenters. Foolishly thinking the audience don't want to hear them or see them.

Kirsty O'Connor

Well we take a different view at GB News, where some of the greatest and most established and EXPERIENCED broadcasting talent have a welcome platform.

The evergreen genius of Alastair Stewart

The fabulous Anne Diamond.

TV icon Eamonn Holmes.

Angela Rippon.

The list goes on. And I make every effort on this show, to be as diverse as possible, including in relation to age, with the likes of Diddy David Hamilton, who is an unmissable fixture on Mark Dolan Tonight. He's better than ever at 84 years young.

All of these over-60s are far from over the hill. They’re at the height of their powers. They’re not oldies, they’re goldies. And for Radio 2 to let Bruce go? Host of the biggest radio show in the country? They KEN not be serious.

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