Bob Shennan named Director of BBC Radio

Bob Shennan will become the new BBC Director of Radio from next month, looking after day-to-day running of the corporation’s network radio stations.

Bob has been Radio 2 Controller since January 2009, joining after a short spell away from the BBC. Before that he’d run 5 live and BBC Sport in a long career with the BBC dating back to 1987.

His current job combines management of Radio 2 with running the Asian Network, 6 Music and being Director of BBC Music. He’ll become Director of Radio on 8th November, reporting to James Purnell, Director of Radio & Education, who has strategic, editorial and budgetary responsibility across arts, children’s, education, music, partnerships and network radio.

The BBC says Bob will have daily oversight of BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 live and digital-only stations 1Xtra, 6Music, BBC Radio 4 Extra, 5 live sports extra and Asian Network, as well as the BBC Performing Groups, the BBC Proms, BBC Music and radio production. We’re told he’ll work closely with James on the strategy for radio.

James Purnell says: “I’m delighted to appoint Bob to this important post. Bob has an outstanding breadth of experience and has made a huge contribution to BBC Radio over many years. He has proven, through Radio 2, that BBC services can be both distinctive and popular, has brought digital-only services 6 Music and Asian Network to record audiences and has successfully launched BBC Music. I am looking forward to working with him on the next chapter for BBC Radio.”

Bob Shennan says: “Radio is a jewel in the BBC crown and continues to thrive in spite of the changing technological times. BBC Radio is world class and it will be an honour to lead it and make sure it stays that way.”

The BBC has confirmed to RadioToday that Bob will still have oversight of BBC Music but won’t remain Controller of Radio 2. His successor as boss of Europe’s biggest radio station will be announced at a later date. 

The commercial radio trade body, RadioCentre, welcomed the appointment. Chief Executive Siobhan Kenny told RadioToday: “On behalf of commercial radio, I would like to congratulate Bob Shennan on his new role as Director of BBC Radio. We look forward to working with him on our many joint projects, especially Radioplayer as it reaches its next exciting phase of development.”

Bob, who started his career as a journalist at Peterborough commercial station Hereward Radio, is a former Chair of the Radio Academy and also sits on the board of the Country Music Association. He’s also a Trustee of the Roundhouse venue in Camden and vice-chairman of BBC Children in Need.

The new role of Director of BBC Radio comes after Helen Boaden announced her retirement from the corporation after 34 years. James Purnell became Director of Radio and Education and took on Helen’s executive board role representing radio.

Radio Independents Group Chair Phil Critchlow today commented on the appointment: “Bob brings huge experience and understanding of radio to this critical role, from news, sport, and speech in general to the highest quality music of all kinds. He’s always been extremely open to innovation and fresh thought in all of his previous roles, which will be critical to the success of radio as a whole moving forwards.”

“He’s also shown real vision and support in terms of integrating external supply into the BBC, and we very much look forward to continuing to work with him in his new position.”

Listen to Bob Shennan talking to RadioToday’s Stuart Clarkson at the ARIAS last night after Radio 2 picked up the Gold for Best National Station:

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