The chief executive of Virgin Radio Fru Hazlitt has resigned from her position with immediate effect. Her replacement will be Programme Director Paul Jackson. A special report in the FT in December predicted the move, when Hazlitt announced herself out of the running for the top job at SMG.
It is thought the move is ahead of something much larger within the company – the merger of SMG and UTV being the obvious reason. A merged company is likely to be managed by UTV's chief executive John McCann, leaving no leadership position of Fru.
Fru Hazlitt joined SMG in August 2005 as Chief Executive of Radio from Yahoo! UK and Ireland, where she was Managing Director.
Paul Jackson has been Virgin Radio’s Programme Director since 2001, prior to which he was Regional Programme Director for Capital Radio. Since joining Virgin Radio, Paul has revamped the station’s music policy and programme line-up and was responsible for attracting big name presenters such as Christian O’Connell and Suggs to the station.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Donald Emslie, Acting Chief Executive of SMG, said:
“I’m sorry to see Fru go. She’s been an inspirational leader for Virgin Radio and her knowledge of the radio and online world has taken the station to the next level. This has provided Paul Jackson with a very strong platform from which to continue to develop the station.
“Paul is amongst the best radio professionals in the industry. He’s been a great asset for Virgin Radio and I look forward to working with him and seeing his plans for the station put into action.”
Fru Hazlitt said: “I’ve had a fantastic time at Virgin Radio and I feel privileged to have been able to work with such a talented group of people, but I have other things in my life that I want to achieve and it’s time for me to move on. I wish Paul and the whole team all the success they deserve.”
Paul Jackson said: “After six years in the programme director’s chair, I believe I know what the Virgin Radio listeners want and we’re bursting with new ideas. We’ve got the best music, the best presenters and a fantastic team here and we’re approaching one of the most exciting times in the history of commercial radio with developments in digital and online. I’m going to work very hard to make sure that Virgin Radio continues to be first with the big ideas.”
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