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BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the UKmarker. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as Adult Contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres. Radio 2 broadcasts throughout the UK on FM between 88.1 and 90.2MHz from studios in Western House, adjacent to Broadcasting Housemarker in central Londonmarker. Programmes are relayed on digital radio via DAB, Sky Digital, Cable TV, IPTV, Freeview, Freesat and the Internet. The station's programming is broadcast on a network of FM transmitters of up to 250 kW, the strongest FM signals in the EU.



The station launched at 05:30 on 30 September 1967, and evolved from the Light Programme, with some of the Light Programme's music shows transferring to the newly-launched Radio 1. The first show had started at 05:30am (on the Light programme) but continued with Breakfast Special from Paul Hollingdale as Radio 1 split.

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/rock, folk and country, jazz and big-band music, easy listening, light classics, and oldies, with significant amounts of comedy and sport. Notable broadcasters on Radio 2 in the 70s and 80s were Ray Moore on early breakfast, Terry Wogan on breakfast, replaced by Ken Bruce and later Derek Jameson; Jimmy Young and his lunchtime news and current affairs show; 'Diddy' David Hamilton on mid-afteroons, John Dunn at what became known as drivetime. Radio 2 became the first 24-hour radio station in the UK in 1979.

Frances Line: 1986–1996

The station's policy remained stable with only minor changes until April 1986 when Frances Line, head of music, repositioned the station. 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-fifties and 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. It took another hit when sports coverage moved to Radio 5 in August 1990. Another blow was struck by the rise of album-rock commercial stations (particularly Virgin Radio) and 'gold' spinoffs from Independent Local Radio stations playing classic pop and rock. With the station's audience in decline a change of emphasis was needed.

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-90s repositioning of Radio 1 in which the BBC lost many well-known names, many former Radio 1 presenters stayed with the BBC and moved across to Radio 2.

Radio 2 is now termed "the nation's favourite", a title the BBC formerly used for BBC Radio 1. It is the most listened-to station in the UK, its schedule filled with broadcasters such as: Sir Terry Wogan, Steve Wright, Chris Evans, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie, Janice Long, 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.

The current position

The station now has adult listeners, mainly aged 25 and above, although in recent years it has attracted more younger listeners. Its daytime playlist features music from the 1960s to various current chart hits, album and indie music. The station's appeal is broad and deep, with accessible daytime programmes and specialist programmes of particular types or eras of music. In 2009 Radio 2 again won the Music Week Award for National Radio Station of the Year, an award it has won for several consecutive years.

Weekday evenings feature specialist music, including jazz, folk music, blues, country and western, reggae, classic rock, showtunes and biographies and documentaries on musical artists and genres. This specialist programming typically runs from 19:00 to 20:00, and from 22:00 to midnight.

Brian Matthew's "Sounds of the Sixties" remains a regular fixture on the Saturday schedule, as does Johnnie Walker's "Sounds of the Seventies".

On Sundays the schedule reverts closer to its old style, with a focus on easy listening music, presenters like Clare Teal and David Jacobs and long-standing programmes like Sunday Half Hour.

Radio 2 does not broadcast complete works of classical music (the domain of Radio 3) or offer in-depth discussion or drama and although some book readings, comedy and arts coverage still remains on the station this is the remit of Radio 4. Jeremy Vine's weekday lunchtime show covers current and consumer affairs informally, a style pioneered by Jimmy Young. Until Radio Five Live, Radio 2's medium wave frequencies carried the BBC's sports coverage. Radio 5 Live was positioned on Radio 2's mediumwave frequencies.

Like all BBC radio stations broadcasting to UK audiences, Radio 2 is funded by the television licence fee, and does not broadcast commercials.

BBC Radio 2's last closedown was at 02:02 on 27 January 1979. Sarah Kennedy (who, since 1993 has been a daily early-morning presenter) was at the Newsdesk after Brian Matthew finished "Round Midnight". From 02:00 to 05:00 the following night, listeners heard "You and the Night and the Music". Radio 2 has the longest period of continuous broadcasting of any national radio station in the UK.

The BBC Pips are broadcast at 07:00 and 08:00 on weekdays, then at 17:00.

BBC Radio 2 moved its studios from Broadcasting Housemarker to the adjacent Western House in 2005. Although the majority of programming comes from London, some shows are broadcast from other cities around the UK, including Birminghammarker and Manchestermarker. 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. Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie continue to present their show from Manchester.

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.

Presenters and programmes



Notable programming

Weekday Breakfast Show

Currently this slot is broadcast between 07:30 and 09:30, Monday to Friday and is hosted by Terry Wogan under the alternative title Wake Up to Wogan. Chris Evans will take over the slot from 2010, and the breakfast show will be extended to 2 hours 30 minutes, broadcasting from 07.00 until 09.30. This means that Sarah Kennedy's Dawn Patrol show will be cut down to one hour, broadcasting from 06.00 until 07.00.

Presenter history

Years served Presenter
1967–1972 John Dunn
1972–1984 Terry Wogan
1985–1986 Ken Bruce
1986–1991 Derek Jameson
1991–1992 Brian Hayes
1993–present Terry Wogan

Specialist programming









Stand-in presenters

News/travel/continuity staff



Past presenters


Years served Controller
1967–1968 Robin Scott
1968–1976 Douglas Muggeridge
1976–1978 Derek Chinnery
1978–1980 Charles McLelland
1980–1984 David Hatch
1984–1990 Bryant Marriott
1990–1995 Frances Line
1996–2004 James Moir
2004–2008 Lesley Douglas
2009–present Bob Shennan


In April 1999 Radio 2 presenter Johnnie Walker was suspended from his drivetime show after allegations concerning a drug problem appeared in the Sunday tabloid, the News of the World. Walker had been the victim of a tabloid exposé over his cocaine problem. Bosses later reinstated him after he was fined £2,000 for possession of cocaine.

The presenter Sarah Kennedy has sometimes attracted controversy. 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 couldn't 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 Brand and Ross leaving four prank messages on actor Andrew Sachs's answerphone including offensive remarks about his granddaughter and use of foul language. The programme was subsequently broadcast on Saturday 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 Jonathan 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 Ofcommarker 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 Russell Brand announced his resignation from the BBC shortly followed by the controller at the time, Lesley Douglas. Jonathan Ross was suspended from the BBC without pay for 12 weeks.

In July 2009 long time 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. He later criticised Radio 2 management for abandoning its older listeners and claimed to have been constructively dismissed by the station, although Radio 2 denied this was the case.


  1. BBC (FM) radio transmitters in England
  2. - Radio 2
  3. Rajar national radio ratings ending December 2006
  4. sectioncode=1&storycode=1037465
  5. Current 'Weekday Breakfast Show'
  6. BBC News: Slurring presenter blames illness

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