Radio 2 appoints new folk host, incumbent not impressed

By | Published on Friday 19 October 2012

Radio 2

Radio 2 has announced that Mark Radcliffe will take over the station’s Folk Show in the new year, which has rather pissed of current presenter Mike Harding, who has told reporters that the only phone call he’s ever received from current R2 boss Bob Shennan was earlier this month to fire him.

BBC chiefs say that they want to convert the currently pre-recorded folk programme into a live show, hence the change of presenter, though Harding insists he would have been happy to present the show live.

The Guardian quotes Harding thus: “In fifteen years I have built the programme from 70,000 listeners to 860,000 listeners. In all that time I have never had a single phone call from Radio 2 to say I was doing a good job even though I instituted things like the Folk Awards with my producer John [Leonard]. I built that show up over the years with a lot of hard work because it is music that is in my blood. Last Tuesday I got the only phone call I have ever had from Radio 2 – from Bob Shennan – telling me he was pulling me from the programme. No reason was given beyond that they wanted to make it more ‘live’. No other presenter was mentioned”.

Despite being placed in a rather tricky position, given the acrimony around Harding’s departure, Radcliffe said he was thrilled about his new post, while also paying tribute to the show’s incumbent host. He said in a statement: “I can’t say how thrilled and honoured I am to be doing this. [Though] I am also well aware of how loved and cherished Mike Harding is, and it is daunting to be following in his footsteps. He is a friend and someone I respect enormously and I really want to pay tribute to the sterling job he’s done on the ‘Folk Show’ for so long. Thanks Mike, from all of us”.

For his part, Shennan bigged up Radcliffe as a “firm favourite with Radio 2 listeners [with] unrivalled broadcasting credentials and longstanding passion, knowledge and hands-on experience of folk music”, while adding of his station’s departing folk man: “I’d like to thank Mike Harding, who has spent fifteen years at the top of his game, delighting fans with his expertise and rooting out the very best folk music. On his watch, folk has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity and Mike has been key in supporting the genre and introducing Radio 2 listeners to a broad range of new artists. We very much hope to work with him again in the future”.