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Drivetime changes coming as Mayo leaves Radio 2

Simon Mayo is leaving BBC Radio 2 later this year and the station will get a new drivetime show, as Jo Whiley moves back to evenings from January 2019.

The pair have been hosting the 5-8pm slot since earlier this year, with listeners expressing dissatisfaction since the change.

Mayo will leave Radio 2 after 8 years on a daily show, but will continue to co-host the Kermode and Mayo Film Review on 5 live on Friday afternoons.

In a series of tweets, he wrote: “So. A few things to say. Very sadly, I have decided to move on from Radio 2. Sad to leave the show, sad to leave Jo, sad to leave Wogan House (I thought I’d be dragged out aged 120). But circumstances change. Juggling my writing and radio has become increasingly tricky (a nice problem to have). I’ve just signed a new 2 book deal with the nice folk at Transworld and they’ll be expecting something half decent before too long. On top of that my Itch books are about to be filmed for television in Australia and the work turning Mad Blood Stirring into a movie continues apace.

“I know, I know, I’m as surprised at this turn of events as you. But at my grand old age to be setting off on these brand new trails is enormous fun. And all the more so for being so unexpected.There are, however, only so many hours in a day. I’ll continue with the (flagship) film show on 5Live with Mark Kermode and, beyond that, other radio adventures beckon! But for now it’s just the sadness of leaving. Radio 2 has been a wonderful place for me-my happiest radio I think. Our listeners are really quite extraordinary. One other thing. Maybe it needs to be said, maybe not but so there is no room for argument I’ll be clear. I’ve loved working with the exceptional Jo Whiley and when the show was ‘reconfigured’ she was my first and only choice. Some of the abuse she has had here has been appalling. Support for a show is one thing, assaulting the dignity of a warm-hearted and loyal friend is another. So by all means discuss what’s happening here, but let’s keep some civility. Thank you. Here endeth the lesson. And (one very final thing), as anyone who has worked here will attest, the producers and APs are a class apart. Brilliant production teams make our jobs a joy. Thanks to each and every one. Onwards.”

In the BBC press release, Simon says: “Obviously, I’m very sad to be leaving Radio 2, and my good friend Jo. However, 2019 looks like being incredibly exciting for me. I have a new two book deal with Transworld, my children’s series Itch is being filmed for TV in Australia in early 2019, and I’m continuing to develop my novel Mad Blood Stirring for a movie with screenwriter Jack Thorne. Plus the film show with Mark Kermode continues on 5 live. Radio 2 has been a quite wonderful experience – my happiest in radio I think – but new adventures beckon and I cannot wait to get started.”

Jo Whiley will launch a brand new show in January from 7-9pm, Monday – Thursday, featuring ‘the very best new music and amazing live sessions’. Jo will continue to present the Radio 2 In Concert series and will also be standing in for Ken Bruce in 2019 when he is away.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 said: “Simon is a fantastic broadcaster, and I’d like to thank him for entertaining millions of Radio 2 listeners with his wit and warmth over the years. Everyone at the station wishes Simon the very best of luck for what promises to be a very exciting future, and he’ll be missed at Wogan House. With Simon leaving, we’ve taken this opportunity to take a fresh look at the schedule, and create a show for Jo which will focus on her passion for music.”

Jo said: “I’m incredibly sad that Simon has decided to leave Radio 2. He’s a brilliant broadcaster, a great friend and I really will miss working with him. However, I’m very much looking forward to hosting a new show for a new year which will have music at the very heart of it as well as guests and live sessions. Dream show, actually. Can’t wait!”

Bob Shennan, Director, BBC Radio and Music (and former Controller, Radio 2) said: “I brought both Simon and Jo in to Radio 2 many years ago, and they have been fantastic keystones in the Radio 2 schedule. I wish Simon good luck with his forthcoming projects, and congratulate Jo on her new show, which I look forward to listening to in January.”

Simon joined Radio 2 to host the Album Chart Show in 2001, alongside his afternoon show on 5 live. Before that he had been at Radio 1 since the late 80s.

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  1. Len Groat says

    So, putting these 2 together for ‘political correctness, and against Simon’s wishes (the show was not ‘broken’ it was a success) and everyone in UK radio KNEW adding Whiley would not work…

    …..will not result in any management SACKINGS ?!

    They will just cruise on regardless to their huge BBC pensions…. and of course all paid for by the legally enforced ‘licence fee’…

    Sorry it’s not a ‘nice’ comment… but the government need to sort out the way this and many parts of the over-staffed BBC are ‘managed’ .. in the commercial world many would not last a year.

    1. Chris Moore says

      Why is there always a need for someone to be sacked when a change doesn’t seem to work or doesn’t appeal to a listener. I made a few mistakes as a programmer and manager plus the odd one as a presenter I’m sure you did too. We’ve all had great ideas for shows that didn’t work and we’ve all hired presenters that didn’t do the business when we thought they would or created partnerships which didn’t gel. You take it on the chin, learn from your mistake and try not to re-create it.

      I had the pleasure and privilege of being in the company of Sir Terry Wogan for about 10mins at Western House a few years back. His view was “they either like you or they don’t”. It doesn’t get much plainer than that.

      1. neal says

        Totally accept the point Chris but how many times do you allow the likes of Bob Shennan and Lewis Carnie to keep on making one bad decision after another before you come to the conclusion that they are just not right for the job they are employed to do?! For me their two biggest issues are they keep thinking they are right when listeners say they are wrong and are so arrogant they will never admit it or by the time they do it’s way too late as it clearly is here. They don’t even feel the need to apologise in anyway either! Second issue is that with the direction they are/have turned Radio 2 towards I think they should go and work for commercial radio as they clearly want Radio 2 to sound like Heart, Magic and Smooth. The most glaring example being soul and disco on a Saturday night just like almost every commercial station does at exactly the same time. What a breath of fresh air it used to be to hear Paul and Bob on Saturdays. And no I actually do like soul music but again I guess being so old take a listen to an old Robbie Vincent or David Simmonds show from either Radio 1or BBC Radio London as it was in the late seventies and eighties to hear how it should be done especially with the choice of music played. The main reason for that no producers and no playlists just DJ’s with a passion for the music which I accept Trevor Nelson has but the controllers just want safe music that everybody knows. So Bob and Lewis please pack up and go to the commercial sector who will just love you as in my opinion the freedom you have at the BBC to try and be DIFFERENT either seems to be completely lost on you or you totally abuse.

      2. Steve says

        @Chris Moore

        “Why is there always a need for someone to be sacked ….”

        Because it should be about accountability and learning processes for the organisation. Does anyone ever get “sacked” in the BBC?; probably only moved sideways.

        Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Radio 1 was pulling in staggering audiences of 10 million listeners, with very distinctive, high quality programmes. But for some reason, Bannister and Dann thought that was evil so destroyed it. “Blood on the Carpet” docu from BBC2 refers.

        Radio 2 was never better in Jim Moir’s hands, with it’s best ever audience figures and diverse music policy, until that was trashed by the dreadful Lesley Douglas. Out went much-loved programmes and presenters, in came Jonathon Ross. I really warmed to Radcliffe (get well soon, Mark) and Maconie in the 8 – 10 pm slot Mon – Thursday, but no, this had to change. What, exactly, was wrong with 30 minutes of brass band or organ music – per week!?

        Lately, this, as Ken Bruce has observed, has been augmented by “TV people coming into radio” such as Graham Norton, Dermot O’Leary, Paul O’Grady, Len Whoever, etc, etc. Radio 2’s music policy is lamentable, dull stale and tired. Every time I switch on, I feel as though I can predict the next track, probably Queen, Springsteen, Bowie or ELO.

        What on Earth is it with these people who keep tinkering about with much loved institutions, as programmes and time slots are? Simon Mayo’s drivetime show was amazingly popular before it was spoiled with the addition of Jo Whiley- a fair broadcaster in her own right, but not a fantastic interviewer – as many fans have commented – there was just no ‘chemistry’.

  2. Stephen Hall says

    “Other radio adventures beckon”
    Smooth Drivetime, Magic Drivetime?
    Either way, he’ll be reduced to 30 second links reading liner cards about their latest “sensational” giveaway.
    Better news for Jo. Back doing what she does brilliantly.

    1. mb23 says

      His tweets suggest he doesn’t have time to do a daily drive show because of his book contracts.

    2. David Finlay says

      He is nearing retirement anyway and will probably disappear altogether.

      1. mb23 says

        He is 15 years younger than Tony Blackburn and 18 years younger than Annie Nightingale. This isn’t a solicitors’ office, broadcasters can go on well past 65.

        1. David Finlay says

          He looks older than his 59.

  3. Adrian says

    So with Jo Whiley 7-9 and Sara Cox presumably still at 10pm presumably the specialist shows for which the BBC are almost the only place left are going to have their time shrunk even further (except,of course,all the dance ones on Saturday nights) and be shunted to 9pm-wonder how long it will be before they are at Midnight or 3am and then dropped because there is no audience.Really this is like what happened in commercial radio and a lot of the music on Radio 2 is now what you can also hear there and even on Radio 1 in some cases,I don’t think the BBC is fulfilling it’s remit to be different,apart from having no commercials,which is it’s great advantage,it’s providing increasingly less for,people who just don’t want pop and prattle.

    1. Benjie says

      Maybe if Cox moves to Drivetime, the specialist shows may be 9-11 with overnights beginning at 11.

  4. David Finlay says

    Simon Mayo is a angry man burning his candle at both ends. Welcome to the real world.

  5. Ex Radio 2 Listener says

    So so sad, to take a winning formulae and rip it apart, move people together who simply did not fit and just as the next listening figures are due to be published Simon jumps. To be fair most of the listeners jumped first, Magic FM & Radio X fill the void nicely. Plus our family (ages 22 – 55) have completely stopped tuning in to Radio 2 and we are not alone (check twitter & the press). Think the underlying aim was to get rid of the over 45 age bracket (ageist) but they did not know their audience. Sad to see Simon go but glad Jo is going back to what she does best.

  6. Neal says

    Thanks a million Lewis Carnie. So that will be the listener knowing better than you AGAIN. You were told and told by the masses to leave well alone and as per usual you just would not. So reading between the lines here you have obviously totally p****d off Simon who should have been left on his own to present drive time. Moved in Jo for no reason other than blasted BBC political correctness and now you have screwed it all up you move her off the show back to an evening slot anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable how the hell do you people keep your jobs???????

    1. Craig Strong says

      Well said!

  7. Gareth says

    Who said don’t work with your friends?No one at the Beeb will be big enough to say we got this one badly wrong. Jo’s lexicon’s lacking to succeed in a daytime role.She’ll discover plenty of new music in the New Year.Don’t put her on Pop Master though.It’s Ultra Natè,Jo!

    1. David Finlay says

      Very true Gareth. That is why I made this particular comment re Ultra Nate at the time. 🙂

  8. Lee says

    I can see Sara Cox moving to Drivetime, as for Specialist Shows, will the Late Show yet again be axed in favour of repeats between 9pm and Midnight?.

    Maybe still have The Late Show between 11pm and 1am with overnight until 4am or even still 1am til 3am all week.

    I reckon if The Late Show is kept but is on from 11pm til 1am, we will see Scott Mills come to Radio 2 although it would be nice to have Mark Goodier presenting it.

    1. Rob Charles says

      NO NOT MARK GOODIER, Interesting as watching fish swim. he has NO Content to his shows.

      1. Joe Smith says

        You actually listen to the radio rather than watch it.

        As for interesting I’ll take him ahead of Ego Evans, Tabloid Vine or the Sycophant Requiring Wright (or Evans for that matter) any day of the week.

  9. Cilane says

    So sad and disappointed that Simon is leaving what WAS a hugely popular and successful show. I had listened to Drivetime for years until recent changes. As always the BBC try to fix something that wasn’t broken. Totally missing the point and ignoring the listeners and tax payers as usual.
    I do wonder how some people actually get to present shows on the Radio these days. When those experienced, extremely professional and talented presenters get pushed aside all for the sake of being PC and trying to increase audience figures..
    The BBC made a big mistake with the Drivetime program. I stopped listening months ago. Such a shame. Simon made this program the popular show it was. But not by chance, he has a gift for being witty, clever, eloquent and genuinely interested in his audience. Which made him so likeable. Unlike so many of the boring, monotonous and patronising presenters we now have to endure.
    We always have to suffer the consequences of poor decisions by the BBC. Our only option is to switch off, which I find I do more frequently now.
    Good luck Simon. Hope you find a station that appreciates your talents.

  10. Mike Rose says

    Three word Monday…”new book pending”…

  11. Allan Wallace says

    It surely is time for Shennan and Carnie to go.

  12. Lee J says

    So sad to see Simon Mayo leaving. The problem wasn’t Simon, it was Jo, hence the reported listener backlash. Drivetime didn’t need a co-presenter, least of all Jo. She was employed to satisfy the the BBC’s taste for political correctness in my view, and the chemistry just didn’t work. It will be interesting to see the RAJAR figures for Drivetime when they are released lat this week.

    Another mess up by Bob Shennan and Lewis Carnie, surely they need to go too! They mess up Drivetime, which I haven’t heard since a fortnight after Jo started co-presenting, then decide to create a another evening show which she came off in the first place!! You couldn’t make it up!

    Sara Cox isn’t right as a replacement Drive Time presenter either in my view. Why not bring in Scott Mills or Gary Davies, or try someone totally new but not some B list celebrity known for something else like acting. Perhaps schedule drive between 5pm and 8pm then an extended specialist show slot until 10pm followed by the late show from 10pm until 1pm.

  13. Lee J says

    I’m sad Simon is leaving Radio 2 and I wish him all the very best (thank you for your efforts Simon). The problem was a co-hosted Drivetime format and the lack of chemistry between Simon and Jo simply to satisfy the BBC’s appetite for political correctness. I used to listen to Drivetime but couldn’t stand the double-header between them. It will be interesting to see the RAJAR figures when they come out later this week.

    I think Mr Carnie’s management skills need to be bought into question here. He was advised not to touch the unbroken Drivetime show, then he broke it losing listeners. Now he is returning Jo to an evening show where she came from in the first place. Why? What is the BBC Radio 2’s obsession with Jo Whiley? Her presentation style between suits Radio 1 in my view.

    Perhaps bring in Scott Miles, Mark Goodier, Gary Davies or another but not a B-list ‘celebrity’ as so often happens on Radio 2 these days. Drivetime could be between 5pm and 8pm, then a two-hour specialist show, with the Late Show between 10pm and 1am.

    1. Mike says

      B list celebrity – you’ll be thinking Alan Carr, Michael Ball etc etc

  14. Chris Moore says

    I’m a huge Mayo fan, always have been. He’s in my top 3 radio heroes with Harris and Baker. While I agree the once fantastic drive time was ruined by the change in length and personnel I think there would have come a time when he would have had to choose between juggling presenting and writing as knocking out the books at the rate he does takes time.

    There’s no shame, as a manager, in admitting you’ve messed up and going back to what worked before, single person show running for 2 hours followed by the usual evening fare. The problem is “experts” will tell you that shows weakness when what it does is shows you recognise what works best for your station. Sometimes though managers and programmers aren’t strong enough to do it.

  15. David Finlay says

    Why dont they put the Whiley woman back on Radio 1 to replace Charlie Sloth or the out stayed Annie Nightingale.

  16. Rob says

    IR35 in the public sector again. Faced with huge additional tax many just quit (or obtain 2 jobs like vine)

  17. Jeff Featherstone says

    I’m trying to think of any other examples of a major station where both the breakfast and drivetime presenters chose to leave (as opposed to being dropped) at the same time. Can anyone think of any?

    1. Sarah Clifford says

      I think gary Davies should do drive times as well as sounds of the 80s and. Bring back disco devotion on Sat night. And have Tony Blackburn show on Friday as a disco show between 7 and 9pm.

  18. Sarah Clifford says

    Hi I think gary Davies should do drive he knows about radio. And Saturday night dance devotion should go back to disco devotion or have Fri nights Tony Blackburn show as a two hour disco show between 7 and 9pm

  19. Ben Wright says

    Simon mayo show should be given to gary Davies. Gary Davies knows his music. And Tony Blackburn show on Friday should be a disco and funk show from 7 till 9 he is the best guy for the job

  20. Mrs Valerie A Cawthorne says

    I am a woman, but see no reason for replacing fabulous male presenters with females just to satisfy a ridiculous political agenda. Please don’t even think about touching Ken Bruce and Popmaster !!

  21. Radio Geek says

    This is indicative of the new BBC policy to introduce women into programme schedules across ALL of the BBC regardless of quality or need.
    If it isn’t broken……..
    But please let’s not tip the scales the other way !

    1. Mike says

      I’m keen on sport and Five Live on Saturday pm is now employing lots of reasonable women presenters. All good, but there’s one – Jacqui Oakley – who seems to think the audience is deaf. My god she shrieks. Puts another spin on the term ‘a face for radio’. She’s actually a looker but that voice!

  22. Mike says

    If you want an indication of shambolic programming look at today (Tuesday). Solid 12 hours of people ‘sitting in’ from 5.00am to 5.00pm. You couldn’t make it up but do they give a damn?

  23. Janice Donne says

    Sad Simon is going 😔 b4 being given a partner… I loved his show on the way home from work. Good luck in all you do Simon. By the way Sara Cox should of had Chris Evan’s morning slot – love her Half Wower and Whole Wower on the way to work. Set me up for the day ahead. Looks like Classic Fm for me now….sorry Radio 2 🙄

  24. Lee Morris says

    I would just like to add that whoever takes over Drivetime, if it is Sara Cox then she will not be popular with everyone and unless Johnnie Walker returns or you have Mark Goodier or Tony Blackburn in this slot then there will be a problem.

    If you add to this the big probability that Ken Bruce will be replaced and moved to weekends in I think 2020, and maybe Steve Wright the same year or not so long after.

    Within the next two or three years there could be changes which upset listeners.

    That is why I am suggesting that you could have Sara Cox until 10am, Ken Bruce from 10am-1pm, Jeremy Vine from 1-4pm with Steve Wright on Drivetime from 4-7pm.

    This way you can still keep the Late Show with Sara Cox rather than axing it but have it between 11pm and 1am, by doing this you also keep the Specialist Shows.

    Having said that you could always do what Radio 1 did and have the Specialist Shows between 9 and 10pm Monday to Thursday?.

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