Radio 2 should stay ‘uncool’, says Ken Bruce

Ken Bruce had his last BBC Radio 2 show on in March 2023
Ken Bruce had his last BBC Radio 2 show on in March 2023 - JAMES WATKINS/BBC

Radio 2 should be “uncool” and not try to appeal to a young audience, Ken Bruce has warned.

The veteran DJ spent four decades at the station before moving to Greatest Hits Radio, its commercial rival, last year.

He said that Radio 2 should not appeal to anyone under the age of 35 and should never stray into Radio 1 territory.

“I think there should always be a clear division between Radio 1 and Radio 2. There should be clear blue water, as they say in politics, between what each station is doing,” Bruce, 73, told the Beyond The Title podcast.

“Radio 1 should be serving the 15-30 age group, and Radio 2 should be serving 35-plus – not really any younger than that.

“It’s a state of mind, Radio 2, it’s not so much about the music that’s being played.”

Ken Bruce with his OK! Daytime award and the Radio Personality award at the TRIC (The Television and Radio Industries Club) awards in 2024
Ken Bruce with his OK! Daytime award and the Radio Personality award at the TRIC (The Television and Radio Industries Club) awards in 2024 - IAN WEST/PA

He went on: “You move from being a youngster who is interested in going to clubs and meeting people and having a great time, to becoming somebody with a career, very often a family, and responsibilities - and it’s a state of mind.

“And you’re also more comfortable with yourself, so you don’t mind being uncool when you’re over 35.

“Whenever Radio 2 started to think of itself as being cool, I always said, ‘Stop, stop, stop, stop. That’s the worst thing we can do.’”

Speaking to The Telegraph earlier this year, Bruce said he had become frustrated by the directive to play new music all the time during his mid-morning show, as he believed Radio 2 audiences wanted old favourites.

“Obviously you want to play new music, but the balance had got out of kilter. I felt I would rather be playing pieces of music that have stood the test of time, that people already know and love and will enjoy hearing again,” he said.

He also explained that he no longer listened to Radio 2, saying: “If you worked in a factory for 40 years, would you go back and stand outside the gates staring in? No.”

Bruce has added 1.6 million listeners to his Greatest Hits Radio slot since joining. The audience for Vernon Kay, his Radio 2 replacement, has fallen, though it continues to be the UK’s most popular radio programme, with 6.75 million listeners.

A Radio 2 spokesperson said: “Radio 2, the UK’s most listened-to radio station with 13.2m listeners each week, continues to target an audience aged 35+, a target that has remained unchanged for decades.”

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