EXCLUSIVE: Paul O’Grady joins BBC competitor for a rival weekend show after he left Radio 2 amid ‘ageism row’
- READ MORE: After an ageist and anti-male purge, the woke and diversity obsessed BBC is slowly killing Radio 2, says DAN WOOTTON
Paul O’Grady has joined a rival radio station eight months after quitting BBC Radio 2 following an ageism row.
The presenter, 67, hosted a Sunday show for 14 years on the BBC station before he quit the station amid a mass exodus of popular talent at the corporation.
He will now be reprising his show on Boom Radio and will host his first Sunday show on Easter Sunday alongside regular sidekick, long suffering producer Malcolm Prince.
O’Grady’s move comes just two weeks after fellow broadcasting veteran Ken Bruce hosted his final Radio 2 show before starting a new position at Greatest Hits Radio, another commercial station, next month.
He said: ‘It’s great to be working with the team at Boom again. It already feels like my new radio home. My producer Malcolm and I are looking forward to our special TeamPOG show on Easter Sunday – who knows, this could be the start of a regular gig.’
New role: Paul O’Grady has joined rival radio station Boom eight months after quitting Radio 2 following an ageism row
Liverpool-born O’Grady enjoyed more than a decade at Radio 2 hosting the Sunday afternoon show.
But the host was unhappy about being asked to share duties with Rob Beckett, 37, which saw the comedian taking over for two three-month stints each year.
Speaking last month, O’Grady confirmed the schedule’s shake-up was the reason behind his departure.
He told Metro: ‘I was disappointed because I’m a great believer in continuity.
‘If you go off for 13 weeks and somebody else comes on, the listeners don’t know when you’re back on.’
He also questioned Radio 2’s desire to appeal to younger audiences, saying: ‘Radio 2 has changed, it’s not what it was.
‘They’re trying to aim for a much younger audience, which doesn’t make sense because you’ve got Radio 1.’
He added: ‘Radio 2 was always for an older audience’.
Ousted: The presenter, 67, hosted a Sunday show for 14 years on the BBC station before he quit the station amid a mass exodus of popular talent
New home: He will now reprise his show on Boom Radio and will host his first Sunday show on Easter Sunday alongside regular sidekick, long suffering producer Malcolm Prince
In the past three years, BBC Radio has also lost big-hitters Graham Norton, who quit the station just before Christmas in 2020 but whose talk show is broadcast on BBC One, and Simon Mayo.
Radio 2 has been trying to woo younger listeners with fresh talent including ex-Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK judge Michelle Visage, Waterloo Road actress Angela Griffin, and DJ Spoony, while also reducing the bill it pays some of its big-hitters.
Bruce was the latest star to depart Radio 2, hosting his final show earlier this month after 31 years.
He accused bosses of hastening up his departure following his move to commercial radio.
The 71-year-old Scot Tweeted ahead of his final show: ‘I will be presenting my last show on Radio 2 next Friday.
‘I had intended fulfilling my contract until the end of March but the BBC has decided it wants me to leave earlier. Let’s enjoy the week ahead.’
Out with the old: Radio 2 fans have accused the BBC of ageism as a string of older DJs step back, including Paul O’Grady, Steve Wright, Ken Bruce and Simon Mayo
A Radio 2 spokeswoman said: ‘Ken decided to leave Radio 2 and it’s always been known he’s leaving in March.
‘Returning to Wogan House for a week after a month of broadcasting the Piano Room sessions at Maida Vale provided a natural break. We wish Ken all the best for the future.’
Bruce is being replaced by presenter Vernon Kay, 48, as part of Radio 2’s bid to rejuvenate the station’s line-up.
READ MORE: Paul O’Grady slams Radio 2, saying station is ‘not what it was’ after Ken Bruce quit
Other veteran stars including Vanessa Feltz, 61, Craig Charles, 58, and Simon Mayo, 64, announced their departures over the past months, having been replaced by younger stars, sparking complaints from listeners, accusing the station of ageism.
Steve Wright, 68, also left his weekday afternoon show last year, replaced by former Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, 49.
It comes amid a wider ‘brain drain’ after journalists Dan Walker, Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis and Andrew Marr all ditched the corporation for high-paid jobs at rival broadcasters including LBC and Channel 5, where they are not bound by the BBC’s strict impartiality rules.
Radio 2 is still the UK’s most popular station, but its overall weekly audience has fallen by 580,000 to 14.29million.
The BBC has lost more over-45s (798,000) than those aged 15-44 (479,000) in the last year.
Commercial stations have gained 802,000 over-45s, an increase of 4.2 per cent.
Radio 3 has suffered the biggest station-wide drop, down 6.3 per cent to 1.8million, while Radio 1 – home to DJs including Greg James and Clara Amfo – is down 4.6 per cent to 7.7million listeners a week. Radio 4 has dropped 3.8 per cent to 10million.
Overall, the weekly reach of radio in the UK is up from 49.4million to 49.6million per week.
Boom Radio is an independent UK radio station aimed at baby boomers and bosses hope to lure Radio 2 listeners put off by the introduction of younger DJs.
On Christmas Day, O’Grady hosted a one-off show which pulled in a record number of listeners to the station.
Speaking about O’Grady’s new show, Boom co-founder Phil Riley says: ‘It’s a testament to the success of Boom Radio that a broadcaster like Paul, at the top of his game, has agreed to join us for this Easter special.
‘We know our audience loved him at Christmas, so it’s great to have him back.’
O’Grady’s Easter Sunday show on Boom Radio starts at 2pm.
Moved on: O’Grady’s move comes just two weeks after fellow broadcasting veteran Ken Bruce hosted his final Radio 2 show before starting a new position at Greatest Hits Radio
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