Andy Parfitt says goodbye to Radio 1

Thursday 21 July 2011, 10:10

Andy Parfitt Andy Parfitt

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Andy Parfitt

After 13 years I'm setting down the Controllership of BBC Radio 1 (and 1Xtra and The Asian Network and BBC Popular Music). I've clearly believed passionately in really sticking at a strategy for the long-term, based on the understanding that real change only happens with sustained effort over long periods - but 13 years (a record period at the helm in Radio 1's 44 year history) is enough for any one leader!

Having said that, leaving has been a long thought out and tough decision to make but I walk away immensely proud to have held this position and knowing I'm leaving with all three stations in great shape - with their listening figures at record highs.

In Radio 1's case we've come a long long way from staring at a declining reach of 9.5 million - now we've a buoyant 11.5 plus million, with nearly half the UK's 15-24s listening every week - as importantly we've a station set up for success in a mobile/visual web world.

I also leave Radio 1 better "understood' as a BBC service with clear public value aims for the young UK population, and that's not always been the case. I'm most proud of the teams I'm leaving behind, I've taken some of my greatest satisfaction of helping individuals develop and fulfill their potential.

Our stations are full of focused, open minded, optimistic and creative people that are not only a credit to the BBC, but also I hope an inspiration to the BBC of a flexible, multi-skilled modern workforce - I include all our DJs and presenters in this of course - it's one big (appropriately sized - I should say) happy family - "As One" as our marketing strap-line goes.

Looking to the future, I am about to embark on the next chapter of my life with a feeling of great excitement at what lies ahead. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am fascinated by the way organisations work (or don't work) and delivering practical change for the better. I'm also inspired by the idea of making audiences (or customers) truly the central creative focus of activity - it's much harder than it sounds, but many of the embedded "ways of life" at Radio 1 are based on these principles.

With this in mind, I'm going to work part-time for BBC Radio, focussing on leadership development and I am taking on a part-time advisory role with Comic Relief - working with Chief Executive Kevin Cahill and his very able team of Directors on their next goals - and will be looking to broaden my experience and use my skills in other businesses and organisations outside of the BBC.

But I care passionately for the BBC and its values, and in particular how they are expressed through its awesome set of national radio services, I've been involved with them all in one capacity or another across my long radio career - and over the next years or so I hope to make a final and lasting contribution to their long term health.

If you are reading this as one of the many many people who've served the mighty Radio 1; the sharp and cool 1Xtra and the passionate people at the Asian Network over the years - I'd like to say a heart felt thank you - all audiences need to get something they love and value from the BBC - the young people of the UK are no exception - so thank you again for serving them.

Andy Parfitt is Controller Radio 1, 1Xtra, Popular Music and Asian Network

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    Comment number 1.

    Took the playlist from Pulp to Westlife.

    Sacked Andy Kershaw.

    Turned the golden Bannister period on its head. Danny Baker, Chris Evans, Chris Morris, Collins & Maconie - quality broadcasters all gone by his arrival.

    May have delivered the numbers but did so by wiping out quality.

    Actively campaigned in the media to justify shutting 6Music.

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    Comment number 2.

    Reads phrases like "believed passionately in really sticking at a strategy for the long-term" "focussing on leadership development".
    *bangs head against desk*
    This is the BBC! The greatest creative environment in the world.
    Talk like that belongs in the board rooms of P&G and Lever. Not at the BBC.

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    Comment number 3.

    "as importantly we've a station set up for success in a mobile/visual web world."

    Hopefully one day music radio people will be run by people who care about music rather than people who talk like this.

    "I'm also inspired by the idea of making audiences (or customers)"

    A tip: anyone who isn't in a shop hates being called a "customer", it removes the sense that you are being treated as an individual with specific needs rather than some kind of drone-like consumer "shopping" for a "product". When I'm on a train, I'm a passenger looking to get from A to B; I'd rather not be on the train at all. When I listen to the radio I'm a listener, I'm usually looking for background noise to accompany something else I am doing; I'm not standing there with a fiver in my hand waiting to be served. It's partly this kind of conformist, corporate misunderstanding of what people want to be treated like that creates so much resentment and contempt towards companies, public sector and private.

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    Comment number 4.

    Please remember to bring back in the cold weather clothes you claimed for on expenses for a charity mountain climb. Maybe get a taxi to go and pick them up now, yeah?

    PS: you ruined Radio 1. Radio 1Xtra is a ghost town. I can only think that you were "passionately" for the closure of 6 Music was because it was a success where 1Xtra received your reverse Midas touch.

    One can only wonder how you stayed there as long as you did. I guess it's the Dilbert management theory in practise: Managers get promoted to their level of incompetence.

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    Comment number 5.

    Taxi? Did someone say taxi?

    Andy Parsnip. Where are you?

    Looking forward to your response.

 

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