The advert for the job of Controller of Radio 4 is due to appear over the next few days. It's an important role - the network makes a significant contribution to the news agenda and cultural life of the nation. Like millions of listeners, Radio 4 has been part of my life for many years. When my family lived in the USA, one of my abiding memories is of evenings in deepest Connecticut listening via the internet to Today, the News Quiz or In Our Time. I realised that while I liked much of my US life, I would ultimately want to go home to the country where Radio 4 is a constant companion.
One of the outstanding characteristics of Radio 4 under Mark Damazer's leadership has been its capacity to sustain a buoyant audience without compromising the quality of its programmes. Great creative leaders like Mark have never been lured into choices between popularity and the intellectual high ground. The impressive performance of Radio 4 shows that there is a healthy appetite for intelligent speech radio: pushing our understanding of a wide range of topics, stimulating our curiosity through in-depth analysis and engaging us through passionate exploration. The recent series A History of the World in 100 Objects was not only a landmark set of popular broadcasts but has already chalked up over 2 million podcast downloads worldwide.
It is crucial that the next controller of Radio 4 continues to make brave decisions and adopts an innovative approach to programming. We will be advertising the Controller's job over the next few days and I am sure that we will have a strong list of people interested in taking up this exciting challenge.
Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music at the BBC
- The picture, showing Radio 4's home in the West End of London, is by Joe Dunckley. Used under Licence.