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Andy Parfitt says goodbye to Radio 1

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Andy Parfitt | 09:10 AM, Thursday, 21 July 2011

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


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 5.

    Taxi? Did someone say taxi?

    Andy Parsnip. Where are you?

    Looking forward to your response.

  • Comment number 6.

    The only time I've been aware of the existence of Mr P was when he tried to justify closing BBC6music. I seem to recall he used to sell soft drinks or washing powder or somesuch...

    Please - when the Board interview for his replacement can we have someone who's knowledgeable and passionate about music?

    These sales and marketing types are just full of MBAspeak. Send them back to the private sector where they can bore the pants of each other and leave us musically literate LISTENERS alone.

  • Comment number 7.

    @dapperdanielle Tim Davie was Pepsi Tim (also of Lever, P&G etc)

    Andy has a rich heritage in radio and has spent 13 years turning something that in 1995 sounded a lot like 6Music does now, with world class radio presenters - a station that was at the zeitgeist of Brit Pop, Cool Britannia and the mood of the time, into something that is now much closer to vile Capital FM.

  • Comment number 8.

    But but I'm 41 and only ever have Radio 1 on (all day) Us "oldies" never get mentioned and I bet we make up more of the listeners numbers. I only left when it was naff for a while but soon came back. Good luck Andy. Any company would be proud to have you helping to lead them forward. x

  • Comment number 9.

    Add your comment

    All bow to the departing leader! All Hail his achievements! An epoch of awesomeness to peeve the One himself. All Hail the most passionate value of self valueing!
    Although Brando didn't make it out of the Heart of Darkness- you have, well done!

  • Comment number 10.

    I won't provide a web link as it'll be killed. Just google Andy Parfitt Andy Kershaw Guardian

    You'll find an excellent article from 11 years ago with this fabulous quote:

    "Parfitt has something of an obsession with dance music. Though in reality he's a 41-year-old suit, his alter ego is Kevin the Teenager - or perhaps Ravey Davey Gravy, the Smurf-hatted berk from Viz magazine, who is continually mistaking the noise of reversing lorries, police sirens and pneumatic drills for the latest block-rocking beat. ("Oowa! Kickin' it large! Give us the bass in m'face!") Like all truly ridiculous characters, Parfitt is bliss fully unaware of his own absurdity. As one BBC colleague told me, "he's the embarrassing uncle disco-dancing at a wedding reception".

  • Comment number 11.

    so long and good riddance and take moyles with you

  • Comment number 12.

    In the picture above he appears to have the Ears Of A Bat. Or perhaps Spock.
    Apparently, though, these appendages are not sensitive either to decent music, or the voice of listeners.


  • Comment number 13.

    FAIL. Back to the Falklands?

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Hammond,

    We need an appearance here from the real Andy Parsnip, do we not?


    Turmoil (Mr)

  • Comment number 15.

    I shall miss him.

  • Comment number 16.

    Glad to see the back of him. He can go and dumb down some other industry now.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    I grew up when Radio 1 was Steve Wright and Mike Reid on MW. I loved it then. I still like it now, especially the DJs. I like the playlist less, but then that's to be expected given my age. The evening shows are still a breath of fresh air. If Andy's responsible for the current shape of Radio 1 then I think he's done a good job.

  • Comment number 20.

    When I was younger, back in the days of the light program, the BBC was my only introduction to music. Then with the arrival of Radio 1 (even though it shared air time with Radio 2) things looked up. Yes, I admit I listened to Radio 1 - because there was a varied selection of what to listen to. The past 15 years I have rarely listened in because what is played is RUBBISH, the mindless tat produced by artists who only use sex as a selling tool and apart from that have no other ability were being pushed by radio 1 by DJ's whose brains are full of verbal diahorrea.
    The intelligence factor has been crushed to death by Radio 1. It encourages morons to be morons and the intelligent to look elsewhere. Music education is sadly lacking these days, the emphasis is to work on the simple minded, and deny others the richness of what is available for the masses. I seldom ever see anything for rock music, I seldom see much for indie music either... but this was decided by the director at the start of his tenure... And the way I see it - he has failed - failed to educate the masses, and only concentrating on the easy to please

  • Comment number 21.

    I hated Radio 1 for years - cheesy DJs, cheesy music. Love it now - great variety, good music and diverse DJs - most of whom I like. Enjoy all the interaction, webcam and adventures they go on in the name of charity or just plain stupidity.

    However, I'm 52 not 25. . .


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