The search begins for new Radio 4 Controller

Friday 30 April 2010, 11:18

Tim Davie Tim Davie Director of Audio & Music

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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

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 2.

    Dear Tim,

    Many thanks for the blog and thanks for link to the BBC usuage statistics where you rightly say Radio 4 shows an "impressive performance".

    I just did a quick calculation myself on change in % in unique listeners for all your stations during the last 12 months

    +50% = 6 Music
    +39% = Radio 4
    +33% = Asian Networl
    +9% = 1 Xtra
    -2% = Radio 2
    -13% = Radio 7
    -14% = Radio 5
    -15% = Radio 1
    -20% = Radio 3
    -44% = 5 Extra

    A 39% increase in unique listeners in a year is impressive as you say and much of the credit should go to Mark Damazer's leadership. I wish his successor all the best in continuing this trend.

    Oh, and I hope you will also view the station at the top of the list with the fastest growing listenership equally "impressive".

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    Comment number 3.

    Err ... apparently R4 has put in an impressive performance with a link to the online site usage that shows a large drop last month? Do you actually read your own statistics?

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    Comment number 4.

    We've had to remove a few comments as this thread is about finding a new controller for Radio 4.
    We'd like to keep this thread on topic and we want to encourage the senior execs to keep blogging - so we're going to be quite tough about taking down comments that are off-topic or repetitive.
    As Tim said in his post on The Future of 6 Music, there is a process and nothing will happen until the Trust has completed its consultation with the public. This ends on the 25 May.
    Please do keep commenting but ensure that you're doing it on the appropriate blogs so that your comments aren't removed.

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    Comment number 5.

    "Great creative leaders like Mark have never been lured into choices between popularity and the intellectual high ground".

    I am quite astounded by that statement, Tim. Your colleague Caroline Thomson was on here a few days ago talking about how important National Events such as The Proms and the World Cup are. The BBC it appears is all about popularity. Indeed, you've cited low audience-figures in the recent Strategic Review as a reason to shut down services. That in itself is indicative of your low regard for quality.

    I hope that Mark Damazer's replacement will actually have some experience in broadcasting and continue to put quality above all else. We urgently need some people at the top of the BBC hierarchy who actually know what they're doing. It's increasingly apparent that the current executive doesn't have a clue.


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