BBC Director of Radio Helen Boaden has resigned from her post, retiring after 34 years.
Helen will step down in March 2017 as James Purnell, who already has responsibility for education, will bring together network Radio, Arts, Music, Learning and Children’s as Director, Radio & Education.
She will stay on to lead the radio teams until the new division starts on 31 October. She will then remain responsible for myBBC, the BBC’s major digital project, as well as leading the BBC’s contribution to Hull City of Culture.
The BBC will also be recruiting a new Director of Radio, within James’s team, to give creative leadership and focus day-in-day out.
In an email to staff, Helen explains:
“As many of you are aware, I have been talking to Tony for some time about my retirement from the BBC and this morning I gave him my resignation.
After 34 very good years, it feels the right time to go though it is never easy to leave something you love. With a new Charter to implement, Tony needs a top team in for the long haul. By contrast I am at a stage when I want to put my energy, skills and experience into other things I care about.
I am lucky enough to have done some great, if challenging, jobs at the BBC and the last few years running BBC Radio, with all its creativity, innovation and sheer fun, have been especially productive and happy. It’s a joy and a privilege to lead our very talented and hugely committed teams and our magnificent Performing Groups.
With 5 live’s welcome return to the Radio division, our stations are in one family again, in fabulous creative health and well prepared for the next wave of digital change and competition. BBC Radio remains genuinely world class and greatly loved by its audience. It should never be taken for granted.
And BBC Radio is central to a thriving UK Radio industry which, we should remind people, reaches 90% of the population every day. I started in commercial radio and have many radio friends outside the BBC in the commercial and independent sectors. Although we compete fiercely, the fact is that together we give the British people huge amounts of pleasure and companionship.
I leave the BBC in the new year and hope to see many of you between now and then. Today I simply want to thank you for welcoming me back so warmly four years ago and for giving me such an inspiring time.
I admire your work, your spirit and your values more than I can say and I am delighted that my final job here has been as Director of Radio, for me the most creative and generous part of the BBC.
With heartfelt thanks and warmest best wishes for the future.”