BBC Radio 2
|BBC Radio 6 Music|
First air date
|30 September 1967|
BBC Radio 2 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC. It is the most popular station in the United Kingdom with over 15 million weekly listeners. Since launching in 1967, the station broadcasts a wide range of content. The Radio 2 about page says: "With a repertoire covering more than 40 years, Radio 2 plays the widest selection of music on the radio—from classic and mainstream pop to a specialist portfolio including classical, country, folk, jazz, soul, rock 'n' roll, gospel and blues."
Radio 2 broadcasts throughout the UK on
According to RAJAR, the station broadcasts to a weekly audience of 14.4 million with a listening share of 16.1% as of September 2022.
The network was launched at 5:30am on Saturday 30 September 1967, replacing the BBC Light Programme — with some of the Light Programme's music shows transferring to the newly launched BBC Radio 1. The first show had started on both Radio 1 and Radio 2 but continued with Breakfast Special presented by Paul Hollingdale as Radio 1 separated at 7am. The first record played on Radio 2 was the title track to the 1965 film The Sound of Music.
In early years, much programming and music was common to both stations, particularly on the shared FM frequency. Radio 1 was targeted at the audience of pirate radio stations whereas Radio 2 settled down as a middle of the road station playing laid-back pop and rock, folk and country, jazz and big-band music, easy listening, light classical music, and oldies, with significant amounts of comedy and sport.
Notable broadcasters on Radio 2 in the 1970s and 1980s were
On 6 January 1975, broadcasting hours for Radio 2 were reduced due to budget cuts at the BBC. The 5am – 2am schedule was scaled back to a 6am start-up from Mondays to Saturdays, and 6:55am on Sundays. The station closed down at around 12:30am each day. However, from 29 September 1975, the closedown was brought forward to 12:10am on weekdays and 12:33am on Saturdays and Sundays. There were exceptions, especially over Christmas and New Year periods, when hours would be temporarily extended. The pre-1975 schedule was reinstated on 1 April 1978.
On 27 January 1979, Radio 2 became the first national 24-hour radio station in the UK. In the first half of the 1980s, presenters such as Kenny Everett, David Hamilton and Steve Jones increasingly featured more contemporary pop music in their playlists.
Frances Line: 1986–1996
In response to the controversy these changes had caused in some circles, Frances Line, head of music, repositioned the station in April 1986. She would become controller in 1990.
An ageing Radio 1 audience which had grown up with the station was sticking with it into their 40s and beyond; Line repositioned Radio 2 to appeal exclusively to the over-50s, introduced older presenters and based the playlist around nostalgia, easy listening and light music.
As a result, David Hamilton quit the station at the end of 1986, claiming the music policy had become "geriatric"; Terry Wogan's replacement Derek Jameson also appealed to an older, down-market demographic. Although popular with its target audience, the policy alienated many younger listeners who had listened to both Radio 1 and Radio 2 and the station's audience fell.
The station lost its medium wave frequencies in 1990 following the launch of BBC Radio 5, and BBC Radio's sports coverage moved from Radio 2 to the new station at the same time. Also around this time, album-rock commercial stations (particularly Virgin Radio) and "gold" spinoffs from Independent Local Radio stations formed, playing classic pop and rock. With the station's audience in decline, a change of emphasis was needed.
In 1992, the weekday daytime music policy was slightly adjusted with pre-1950 music primarily confined to Sundays, and the network's playlist of light classical music was reduced following the launch of Classic FM. Radio 2's profile was boosted by the return of Terry Wogan at the start of 1993, but following the generational shift at Radio 1, commercial radio had taken the highest share of the national audience by the mid-1990s.
James Moir "The Nation's Favourite" – 1996 onwards
Line was replaced by James Moir in 1996. Moir repositioned Radio 2 with a largely AOR/contemporary playlist by day, aimed at a more mature audience than Radio 1 (which, post-Britpop, was again starting to focus on a young audience) but still embracing new music, and more specialist broadcasting by recognised genre experts in the evenings.
Unlike the early-1990s repositioning of Radio 1, in which the BBC lost many well-known names, many former Radio 1 presenters stayed with the corporation and moved across to Radio 2.
Radio 2 has the highest listening figures of any station in the UK, its schedule filled with broadcasters such as Steve Wright, Tony Blackburn, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Mark Radcliffe, Trevor Nelson, Craig Charles, Jo Whiley, Paul Gambaccini, Gary Davies, Zoe Ball, Johnnie Walker and Bob Harris.
As well as having most listeners nationally, it ranks first in many regions above local radio stations. BBC Radio 2 played to 27% of the available audience in 2006.
In February 2007, Radio 2 recruited Jeff Smith, director of UK and International programming at Napster and a former head of music at Radio 1, as its new head of music. Smith joined the network on 26 March.
In the first quarter of 2011, Radio 2 was part of an efficiency review conducted by John Myers. His role, according to Andrew Harrison, the chief executive of RadioCentre, was "to identify both areas of best practice and possible savings."
On 29 July 2013, Radio 2 changed its "sonic logo" for the first time in 15 years, replacing the one composed by US jingle company
Radio 2 has run several "pop-up" DAB services to cover special events, the first being BBC Radio 2 Eurovision, providing coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. The station returned in 2015 for coverage of that year's contest. Others include BBC Radio 2 Country covering the C2C: Country to Country festival and BBC Radio 2 50s, a service dedicated to music programmes covering the 1950s.
During 2018, Radio 2 had numerous presenter reshuffles. In May, long-time drivetime host Simon Mayo was joined by evening DJ Jo Whiley in a new format. The move proved unpopular with listeners, and by October 2018, Mayo announced his intention to leave the station, later adding that this was so he could help launch the new classical music radio station Scala Radio in March 2019, and would continue his Radio 5 Live film review programme. Mayo and Whiley's last show together was broadcast on 20 December 2018, while Whiley moved back to her evening slot, with Mayo's final show on Radio 2 broadcast on 21 December. Sara Cox was later announced as the new drivetime host, starting on 14 January 2019.
In September 2018,
In 2022, the station announced that their annual music festival
The station's audience is now primarily adults over the age of 35 (82% of listeners)
Weekday evenings have historically featured specialist music, including jazz, folk, blues, country, reggae, classic rock, show tunes and biographies and documentaries on musical artists and genres. Previously, this specialist programming ran from 20:00–midnight, but now runs only from 21:00–22:00. Radio 2 hosts both the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Big Band.
Sounds of the 60s remains a regular fixture on the Saturday schedule, as does Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s on Sundays. On 5 October 2013, these two shows were joined by Sounds of the 80s, which was originally hosted by Sara Cox and broadcast on Friday from 22:00–midnight. In May 2018 Gary Davies took over this show, with Cox was hosting a live 22:00 to midnight slot from Monday–Thursday, until she moved to drivetime on 14 January 2019. As part of a schedule change in July 2022, Sounds of the 80s moved back to Saturday evenings from 20:00-22:00.
Radio 2 does not broadcast complete works of
Like all domestic BBC radio stations, Radio 2 is funded by the television licence fee and does not carry advertising.
The Greenwich Time Signal (also known as "the pips") is broadcast at 07:00, 08:00 and 17:00 on weekdays, 07:00 and 08:00 on Saturdays, and 08:00 and 09:00 on Sundays.
Radio 2 moved its studios from Broadcasting House to the adjacent Western House (renamed Wogan House in 2016) in 2006. Although the majority of programming comes from London, some shows are broadcast from other cities around the UK, including Birmingham and Manchester. For many years, the network's overnight presenters, such as Janice Long and Alex Lester, were based in Birmingham, but made the move to London in April 2008. Since May 2018, the weekday overnight show, now presented by OJ Borg has been broadcast from Salford, in Greater Manchester.
Radio 2 broadcasts news bulletins every hour (except for Saturdays at 23:00 and Sundays at 20:00) from a studio in Wogan House. Headline updates are on the half-hour from 05:30 - 08:30 on weekdays during the early and main Breakfast Show.
Bulletins are normally of three minutes duration. Extended five minute bulletins are broadcast on weekdays at 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 13:00 and 17:00, on Saturdays at 07:00 and 08:00 and on Sundays at 06:00, 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00.
- Michael Ball
- Zoe Ball
- Rob Beckett
- Tony Blackburn
- OJ Borg
- Kate Bottley
- Ken Bruce
- Nicki Chapman
- Rylan Clark
- Fearne Cotton
- Sara Cox
- Jamie Cullum
- Gary Davies
- DJ Spoony
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor
- Paul Gambaccini
- Angela Griffin
- Bob Harris
- Vernon Kay
- Cerys Matthews
- Scott Mills
- Jason Mohammad
- Trevor Nelson
- Dermot O'Leary
- Elaine Paige
- Mark Radcliffe
- Romesh Ranganathan
- Liza Tarbuck
- Jeremy Vine
- Michelle Visage
- Johnnie Walker
- Jo Whiley
- Claudia Winkleman
- Steve Wright
These presenters do not have permanent slots on Radio 2 but have sat in relatively recently for shows on the network. The list does not include regularly scheduled presenters who also stand in for other shows, such as Gary Davies covering Zoe Ball, Ken Bruce, Sara Cox and Trevor Nelson or OJ Borg covering Dermot O'Leary.
- Samantha Barks (sits in for Elaine Paige on Sunday)
- Edith Bowman (sits in for Sara Cox, Jo Whiley and Sounds of the 80s with Gary Davies)
- YolanDa Brown (sits in for Jo Whiley)
- Tina Daheley (sits in for Jeremy Vine)
- Cat Deeley (sits in for Rylan on Saturday)
- Stacey Dooley (sits in for Claudia Winkleman)
- Chris Hawkins (sits in for OJ Borg and Good Morning Sunday)
- Alex Jones (sits in for The Michael Ball Show)
- Gethin Jones (sits in for Dermot O'Leary)
- Preeya Kalidas (sits in for OJ Borg)
- Shaun Keaveny (sits in for Liza Tarbuck)
- Gabby Logan (sits in for The Michael Ball Show)
- Joe Lycett (sits in for Sara Cox)
- Davina McCall (sits in for Claudia Winkleman)
- Paddy O'Connell (sits in for Jeremy Vine, Liza Tarbuck and Jo Whiley.)
- Anita Rani (sits in for Sara Cox, Scott Mills and Dermot O'Leary)
- Adele Roberts (sits in for Trevor Nelson's Rhythm Nation and Jo Whiley)
- Gaby Roslin (sits in for Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs)
- Jessie Ware (sits in for Jo Whiley)
- Phil Williams (sits in for OJ Borg)
- Will Young (sits in for Jo Whiley)
Those listed below, regularly appear on shows as contributors but don't present a programme themselves.
- Emma Bullimore (Television critic, on Jo Whiley's show - alternate Tuesdays)
- Sarah Jarvis (medical expert, on Jeremy Vine's show)
- James King (Film critic, on Jo Whiley's show - alternate Tuesdays)
- Martin Lewis (financial expert, on Jeremy Vine's show)
- Phil Swern (Producer and regular contributor on Sounds of the 60s)
- Terry Walton (gardening and allotment expert, on Jeremy Vine's show)
Notable former presenters
- Paul Hollingdale (1967–1970)
- Pat Doody (1967–1971)
- Eric Robinson (1967–1971)
- Kenneth Alwyn (1967–1972)
- Barry Alldis (1967–1973)
- Simon Bates (1973–1976)
- David Gell (1967–1977)
- Robin Richmond (1969–1980)
- Sam Costa (1967–1981)
- Alberto Semprini (1967–1982)
- Kenny Everett (1981–1983)
- Tom Edwards (1968–1984)
- Pete Murray (1967–1984)
- Tony Brandon (1970–1985)
- Steve Jones (1979–1985)
- David Hamilton (1967–1973; 1975–1986)
- Ray Moore (1967–1988)
- Stuart Hall (1982–1988)
- Peter Dickson (1983–1989 plus one week as a stand-in in 1999)
- Billy Butler (1988–1990)
- Simon Dee (1988–1990)
- Peter Clayton (1970–1991)
- Teddy Johnson(1967–1992)
- Keith Fordyce (1969–1992)
- Judith Chalmers (1990–1992)
- Graham Knight (1988–1991)
- Bill Rennells (1978–1993)
- Anne Robinson (1988–1993, stand-in for Jimmy Young in 1996)
- John Sachs (1991–1993)
- Barbara Sturgeon (1992–1993)
- Adrian Love (1987–1994)
- Charlie Chester (1968–1995)
- Alan Dell (1967–1995)
- Gloria Hunniford (1981–1995)
- Katie Boyle (1968–1996)
- Wally Whyton (1969–1996)
- Martin Kelner (1984–1996)
- Chris Stuart (1985–1996)
- Derek Jameson (1985–1997, with wife Ellen from 1992 to 1997)
- Angela Rippon (1985–1997, stand-in presenter)
- Robbie Vincent (1997 only)
- Debbie Thrower (1995–1998)
- John Dunn (1967–1998)
- Benny Green (1967–1998)
- Steve Madden (1985–1998)
- Bob Holness (1968–1974, 1985–1998)
- Charles Nove (1981–2012)
- David Allan (1968–1999)
- Pam Ayres (1996–1999)
- Des Lynam (1970–1980, 1998–1999)
- Jackie Bird (1998–2000)
- Alan Freeman (1997–2000)
- Cliff Adams (1967–2001)
- Jack Docherty (2000–2001)
- Katrina Leskanich (1998–2000)
- Sheila Tracy (1977–2000)
- Sir Jimmy Young (1973–2002)
- Andy Peebles (1998–2002)
- Alan Keith (1970–2003)
- Sybil Ruscoe (2003–2004)
- Don Maclean (1990–2006)
- Brian Hayes (1991–2006)
- Sheridan Morley (1990–2006)
- Richard Baker (1986–2007)
- Nick Barraclough (1992–2007)
- Canon Roger Royle (1984–2007)
- Russell Brand (2006–2008)
- Humphrey Lyttelton (1967–2008)
- Matthew Wright(2006–2008)
- Michael Aspel (1968–1974, 1986–1999, 2009)
- Jon Briggs (newsreader and continuity) (1996–2009)
- Mo Dutta (1995–2009)
- Bob Dylan (2007–2009)
- Malcolm Laycock (1995–2009)
- Pete Mitchell (2006–2009)
- Jonny Saunders (former drivetime and weekday breakfast sports reporter) (2006–2011)
- Emma Forbes (2009–2010)
- Sarah Kennedy (1976–1983, 1993–2010)
- Mark Lamarr (1998–2010)
- Jonathan Ross (1999–2010, 2014–2018)
- Suzi Quatro (2008–2010)
- Dale Winton (2000–2010)
- Steve Harley (2000–2008)
- Michael Parkinson (1996–2007, 2011)
- Alan Titchmarsh (2006–2011)
- Colin Berry (1973–2012)
- Melanie Sykes (2010–2012)
- Brian D'Arcy (2007–2012)
- Mike Harding (1997–2012)
- Aled Jones (2006–2012)
- David Jacobs (1967–2013)
- Steve Lamacq (2007–2013)
- Stuart Maconie (1998–2013)
- Lynn Parsons (1998–2014)
- Fran Godfrey (newsreader) (1990–2014)
- Dave Pearce (2011–2014)
- Richard Allinson (1997–2014)
- Alan Dedicoat (newsreader) (1986–2015)
- Rebecca Pike (business news reporter) (2006–2015)
- Ed Stewart (1980–1983, 1991–2006, 2007–2015)
- Sir Terry Wogan (1972–1984, 1993–2015)
- Desmond Carrington (1981–2016)
- Janice Long (1999–2017)
- Alex Lester (1987–2017)
- Brian Matthew (1967–2017)
- Diane-Louise Jordan (2012–2017)
- Clare Balding (2013–2017)
- Lynn Bowles (travel, weekday mornings) (2000–2018)
- Paul Jones (1986–2018)
- Rachel Horne (travel, weekday mornings) (March–December 2018) 
- Matt Williams (Drivetime Sport reporter) (2010–2018)
- Nigel Ogden (1980–2018)
- Frank Renton (1995–2018)
- Moira Stuart (newsreader, weekday breakfast) (2010–2018) 
- Simon Mayo (2001–2018)
- Chris Evans (2005–2018) 
- Vassos Alexander (Breakfast Sport reporter) (2011–2018) 
- Carol Kirkwood (2012–2019) (breakfast show weather presenter)
- Don Black (2013–2020)
- Bill Kenwright (2010-2020)
- Graham Norton (2010–2020)
- Clare Teal (2006–2021)
- Huey Morgan (2011–2021)
- Anneka Rice (2012–2021)
- Angela Scanlon (2018–2021)
- Dr Rangan Chatterjee (2021–2022) 
- Craig Charles (2014–2022) 
- Ana Matronic (2014–2022) 
- Paul O'Grady (2009-2022) 
- Vanessa Feltz (2011–2022)
- Janey Lee Grace (1999-2022)
- Tim Smith (1999-2022)
Controllers/Head of Station
|2016–2020||Lewis Carnie |
|2020–present||Helen Thomas |
Presenter Sarah Kennedy attracted controversy before she left the station in 2010. In May 1999, she gave a "bizarre" performance while standing in for Terry Wogan, blaming the incident on a lack of sleep the previous night. Her slurred speech throughout her show on 13 August 2007 also made the headlines. She blamed a sore throat and later took a month-long break. It was later reported that Kennedy was recovering from pneumonia, and she returned to work on 10 September. In October 2007, she was reprimanded after joking that she had almost run over a black pedestrian because she could not see him in the dark. The BBC later apologised for the comment. She was also "spoken to" by BBC bosses after praising Enoch Powell during a show in July 2009, describing him as "the best prime minister this country never had".
On 16 October 2008, an episode of The Russell Brand Show, co-hosted by fellow Radio 2 presenter Jonathan Ross was recorded for transmission at a later date. The show included Russell Brand and Ross leaving four prank messages on actor Andrew Sachs' answerphone, including offensive remarks about his granddaughter and use of foul language. The programme was subsequently broadcast on 18 October – partially censored – having passed the various pre-transmission checks from the programme's editors. Initially, the programme only received a negligible number of complaints regarding Ross' bad language; however, the incident was reported a week later by The Mail on Sunday and a public outcry soon ensued. The case was referred to both Ofcom and the BBC Trust, and in the interim, Ross and Brand were both suspended for 12 weeks from all BBC programmes pending investigation. Soon after these announcements, Brand announced his resignation from the BBC, shortly followed by the controller at the time, Lesley Douglas. Ross was suspended from the BBC without pay for 12 weeks.
In July 2009, longtime presenter Malcolm Laycock announced his resignation live on air following a long-running dispute over the content of his show, Sunday Night at 10, and issues regarding his salary.
In 2022, Paul O’Grady quit his Sunday afternoon show after 14 years as he was not happy with a schedule change which saw younger comic Rob Beckett fill his slot for thirteen weeks before O’Grady was scheduled to come back, with the two comedians switching over again once another thirteen weeks was over. O’Grady presented his last programme on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday 14 August. The decision by O’Grady and Prince to vacate their slot, was part of a number of changes to the station in 2022, which saw Vanessa Feltz deciding to leave the station, after quitting her BBC Radio shows and Steve Wright in the Afternoon being replaced by a show presented by BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills.
- "Boost for breakfast shows with increased listeners across BBC radio stations". BBC. 31 July 2003. Retrieved 25 December 2008.
BBC Radio 2's weekly audience was 15.49 million (from 15.36m last quarter and 15.05m last year) while the station's share of listening was 18.3% (17.5% last quarter and 17.3% last year).
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- "The Michael Ball Show".
- "The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show".
- "Rob Beckett".
- "Sounds of the 60s with Tony Blackburn".
- "OJ Borg".
- "Good Morning Sunday".
- "Ken Bruce".
- "Early Breakfast Show".
- "Rylan On Saturday".
- "Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton".
- "Sara Cox".
- "The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum".
- "Sounds of the 80s with Gary Davies".
- "The Good Groove with DJ Spoony".
- "Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Kitchen Disco".
- "Pick of the Pops".
- "Radio 2 Unwinds with Angela Griffin".
- "The Country Show with Bob Harris".
- "Dance Sounds of the 90s with Vernon Kay".
- "The Blues Show with Cerys Matthews".
- "Scott Mills".
- "Trevor Nelson's Rhythm Nation".
- "Dermot O'Leary".
- "Elaine Paige on Sunday".
- "The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe".
- "Romesh Ranganathan: For The Love of Hip Hop".
- "Liza Tarbuck".
- "Jeremy Vine".
- "Michelle Visage".
- "Sounds of the 70s with Johnnie Walker".
- "Jo Whiley".
- "Claudia Winkleman".
- "Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs".
- "Samantha Barks sits in for Elaine Paige on Sunday".
- "Edith Bowman sits in for Sara Cox".
- "Edith Bowman sits in for Jo Whiley".
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- "Yolanda Brown sits in for Jo Whiley".
- "Tina Daheley sits in for Jeremy Vine".
- "Cat Deeley sits in for Rylan on Saturday".
- "Stacey Dooley sits in for Claudia Winkleman".
- "Chris Hawkins sits in for OJ Borg".
- "Chris Hawkins sits in for Good Morning Sunday".
- "Alex Jones sits in for Michael Ball on Sunday".
- "Gethin Jones sits in for Dermot O'Leary".
- "Preeya Kalidas sits in for OJ Borg".
- "Shaun Keaveny sits in for Liza Tarbuck".
- "Gabby Logan sits in for Michael Ball on Sunday".
- "Joe Lycett sits in for Sara Cox".
- "Davina McCall sits in for Claudia Winkleman".
- "Paddy O'Connell sits in for Jeremy Vine".
- "Paddy O'Connell sits in for Liza Tarbuck".
- "Paddy O'Connell sits in for Jo Whiley".
- "Anita Rani sits in for Sara Cox".
- "Anita Rani sits in for Scott Mills".
- "Anita Rani sits in for Dermot O'Leary".
- "Adele Roberts sits in for Trevor Nelson's Rhythm Nation".
- "Adele Roberts sits in for Jo Whiley".
- "Gaby Roslin sits in for Sunday Love Songs".
- "Jessie Ware sits in for Jo Whiley".
- "Phil Williams sits in for OJ Borg".
- "Will Young sits in for Jo Whiley".
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