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Ken Bruce’s premature Radio 2 exit “unfortunate”, reckons his former and future colleague Simon Mayo

By | Published on Friday 3 March 2023

As Ken Bruce presents his final show for Radio 2 this morning – three weeks earlier than originally planned – fellow broadcaster Simon Mayo has said that the forced premature departure of his former and soon to be current again colleague is “unfortunate” and “messy”.

Although, Mayo conceded, Bruce’s exit would have probably been even swifter if it was a commercial radio station he was leaving.

Bruce announced in January that he was leaving the BBC after 45 years with the broadcaster – including 30 consecutive years fronting the morning show on Radio 2 – in order to join Bauer-owned commercial station Greatest Hits Radio.

The original plan was that Bruce would complete his current contract with the BBC, meaning his final show would be on 24 Mar. However, last week the DJ announced on Twitter that – at the request of BBC bosses – his final show would actually air today.

That announcement resulted in a flurry of criticism on social media from Bruce’s loyal listeners, who reckoned it was disrespectful for BBC bigwigs to force such a long-standing Radio 2 DJ out of the door three weeks early.

In an interview with the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4, Bruce himself reiterated that his earlier than expected departure was the BBC’s decision.

He said: “My belief is that, when I’m given a contract, I work to it and complete it. Over the last 46 years, I haven’t had very much time off, I’ve attempted to turn up whenever I’m required to turn up. So my natural feeling as a broadcaster is if I’ve got seventeen days to do, I want to do them”.

He conceded that “it’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early”, but added, “for the sake of seventeen days, which was all that was remaining, it seems a shame”.

Since it was confirmed that Bruce was moving from Radio 2 to Greatest Hits Radio, the latter has been heavily promoting its new recruit, obviously keen to encourage a decent number of his current listeners to follow the DJ to the commercial station.

That likely impacted on the BBC’s decision to end Bruce’s tenure at Radio 2 early, with bosses reckoning that him continuing to pop up on the BBC station was basically providing free promo for his new employer.

That is something Simon Mayo – another former Radio 2 presenter now to be found on Greatest Hits Radio – noted in an interview with the Beeb Watch podcast yesterday.

“If you’re on social media, the Greatest Hit Radio Twitter icon is Ken Bruce. Ken is an advert for Greatest Hits Radio now, so I can understand why [BBC execs] might have thought ‘we need to hasten these things’”.

And had Bruce been leaving a commercial radio station to present a high profile show for a rival broadcaster, he would likely have “been out the door sooner”, Mayo added. Which is almost certainly true. Nevertheless, Mayo said he thought that Bruce’s rushed exit was “unfortunate because it does feel messy”.

Bruce starts his new show on Greatest Hits Radio in April. Vernon Kaye will take over the morning show on Radio 2 in May.