Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Radio 2 schedule changes enhance commitment to specialist music and documentaries

In 2011, BBC Radio 2's commitment to specialist music and documentaries continues to flourish. Today (24 February) the network reaffirms its commitment to specialist music programming with some key changes to the weekly schedule. And documentaries will now be broadcast four times a week, with some exciting new announcements.

From Monday 4 April, three long-standing specialist music shows will move to an earlier timeslot of 9.30-10pm.

  • Monday – Big Band Special (previously 11pm): Presented by Clare Teal, the show returns to a year-round slot and will continue to feature the very best in big band sounds performed in session and in concert by the BBC Big Band. Forthcoming highlights include the BBC Big Band in concert at the Town Hall Birmingham with Grammy winning singer Patti Austin performing the music of George Gershwin, plus Clare Teal and the band take a fresh look at the Great British Songbook. Later in the year Big Band Special will also feature the band's appearances at the Sounds Contemporary Festival in Canterbury and the Brecon Jazz Festival. Claire will continue to present the best of big bands on a Sunday night (10-11pm).
  • Tuesday – The Organist Entertains (previously Thursday, 10pm): Nigel Ogden presents this show of popular organ recordings featuring entertaining pieces from the organ world. From April, Nigel will be seeking out those in the public eye who have an affection for organs of all sorts and the music they make. Through the programmes he'll also be highlighting young performers, showing that the art of organ playing is very much alive and well.
  • Wednesday – Listen To The Band (previously Thursday 10.30-11pm): Presented by Frank Renton, the show celebrates brass playing at its best and broadcasts highlights from the annual BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist Award. From April, it will have a new magazine style format which will include interviews with all the major players, both here and abroad, keep listeners informed of all the major brass-related news and CD releases, run in-depth features on composers and bands, and seek out those in the public eye who love band music and will share with the listener the part it's played in their lives.

In the summer, Radio 2 will also be introducing a new weekly strand of specialist music short series, featuring musical genres not already covered on the network, and ensuring there will be more specialist music content on the network than ever before. More information will be released about these later in the spring.

Bob Shennan, Controller, Radio 2 and 6 Music, comments: "Specialist music is at the heart of Radio 2's music output. And the change to the scheduling of three of our long-standing shows, along with the network's fantastic range of blues, country, folk, jazz, soul, not to mention concerts, exemplifies our commitment to bringing these specialist genres to our audience."

The schedule change also brings with it more documentary slots, including documentaries in a regular place every Monday through to Thursday at 10pm, up from three times a week currently.

This year, listeners can look forward to The Mozart Of Madras about Slumdog Millionaire composer A R Rahman, named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, Stuart Maconie telling the story of legendary entertainer George Formby, programming marking the 40th anniversary of The Old Grey Whistle Test, a two-parter commemorating Malcolm McLaren, and special seasons marking the 30 years since the death of reggae legend Bob Marley and the 70th birthday of folk hero Bob Dylan – but this is just a snapshot, there'll be lots more.

Bob Shennan comments: "I'm hugely proud of the diverse range and scope of Radio 2's documentaries. There's an inspiring mix of programmes coming up this year and the regular 10pm slot means listeners will know where to come for their music knowledge fix."

These schedule developments follow the recent announcement that Jo Whiley will present a new show from Mondays to Wednesdays, 8-9.30pm. Jo will be the listeners' trusted guide, steering them through a broad range of popular music based on her recommendations and including album tracks as well as unearthing musical gems that are rarely heard elsewhere on Radio 2.

On Thursdays from 8pm to 10pm, Jo continues to present Radio 2 In Concert whose recent gigs include OMD, Jamiroquai, Paolo Nutini, Rufus Wainwright, Seal, Scissor Sisters, Manics, and Paul Weller.

Through the week, The Blues Show with Paul Jones (Mondays), Best Of Jazz with Jamie Cullum (Tuesdays), Folk And Acoustic with Mike Harding (Wednesdays), The Country Show with Bob Harris (Thursdays), and Music Goes Round with Desmond Carrington (Fridays) will remain at the core of the evening schedule from 7pm to 8pm.

At the weekend, Huey Morgan (overnight from Saturday 2 April, midnight till 3am) raids his personal record collection. Elaine Paige On Sunday (1-3pm) entertains with a programme packed full of songs from the shows. Alan Titchmarsh plays a mixture of popular and classical music (Sunday, 7-8.30pm), and Russell Davies celebrates the art, craft and inspiration of the popular song (Sunday, 9-10pm).

Other recent music highlights include Radio 2's Folk Awards, Young Chorister of the Year Awards and Young Brass Soloist Award, plus a special from the 2011 Celtic Connections festival in Scotland hosted by Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross and encompassing world, folk, Americana, traditional, bluegrass and everything in between.

Documentary highlights from this past year have been on a diverse range of music-based subjects ranging from Desmond Carrington's Icons Of The Fifties and The Musical to Come To The Cabaret and The Santana Story.

And Radio 2's presenters continue to be recognised across the world for their commitment to music. In 2010, Johnnie "Pirate" Walker won Gold in the Best Regularly Scheduled Music Programme at the New York Festival, a show which encapsulated the pirate radio spirit of the Sixties. And in February 2011, Paul Jones's Rhythm And Blues Show was the recipient of the International prize in the Blues Foundation Keep The Blues Alive annual awards ceremony in Memphis – an honour rightly deserved in recognition of Paul's commitment to his much-loved show.

Listeners can catch all their favourite shows on the Radio 2 website at

Notes To Editors

  • Big Band Special: this show originally launched as a 13-week run of shows over 30 years ago in October 1979 and since then has kept the performance of big band music in its many forms at the heart of Radio 2's programming. Over the years the show has featured the BBC Big Band in performance with many of the world's biggest stars, including Van Morrison, Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, George Shearing, Lalo Schifrin, Ray Charles, Jack Bruce, Kurt Elling, The Manhattan Transfer, and Dr John. Since 2007 the BBC Big Band has been an Associate Ensemble at the Town Hall Birmingham. In partnership with Performances Birmingham the band is featured in its own unique series of Big Band Special concerts at the Town Hall and also participates regularly in community and education events.
  • The Organist Entertains: this show has been running as a regular weekly programme on Radio 2 since 1969, with Nigel Ogden as the regular presenter since 1980 following the retirement of the programme's founder and first host, Robin Richmond. The show features classic sounds from the cinema organ, the Hammond organ and the more sizable instruments to be found in churches, cathedrals and Town Halls around the world. It also keeps listeners up to date with restoration projects and plays recordings by all the most celebrated performers from around the world.
  • Listen To The Band: the BBC has been broadcasting the sound of brass bands since 1923 when the Cory Band first went in to the studio to record a music session. There was a time when the schedules were virtually cleared for the National Brass Band Championship Finals, a competition which is still featured in the output of Listen To The Band today. Frank Renton has presented the programme for over 15 years.


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