New BBC Radio 2 host steps in after station loses 1,000,000 listeners

Radio 2 has continued its recent big shake-up by announcing the departure of Paul Gambaccini, who is set to be replaced by BBC veteran Steve Wright.

The American-British radio host and music expert, 74, will be leaving the station after seven years, with Wright, 68, stepping into his Saturday lunchtime slot.

Wright will take over as host of Pick of the Pops, which will be his first new show since he left his weekday afternoon slot in 2022, now hosted by Scott Mills.

The legendary broadcaster, who first joined the BBC in 1981, has continued to host his Sunday Love Songs show on Sunday mornings over the last year.

In a statement about taking over the long-running chart archive show, he said: ‘Pick of the Pops is such a legendary show. Gambo brilliantly made it his own.’

‘[Gambaccini has hosted] over the last seven-and-a-half years and now it’s my chance to give it a go,’ he added, revealing his excitement at taking over.

It’s news which has delighted long-term listeners, who have felt disappointed by many of the big changes at Radio 2 over the last five years.

‘Great news!’ one fan wrote on social media, adding: ‘Steve Wright should never have been given the boot in the first place.’

Another said: ‘Makes you wonder why Radio 2 ever decided to remove him from his original afternoon show.’

His return comes amid a host of big changes at the station following the departures of Graham Norton, Simon Mayo, and Ken Bruce in recent years.

In the wake of Bruce’s departure from Greatest Hits Radio earlier in 2023, it’s been revealed that Radio 2 has lost over a million weekly listeners – a drop of 7%.

The station saw its listening figures drop from 14.5m per week to 13.5m, while Greatest Hits saw its listenership jump 13% to almost 6m.

Gambaccini began working for the BBC in the mid-1970s and eventually found himself presenting Pick of the Pops – which Wright will now take over.

The last Pick of the Pops to be hosted by Gambaccini will be broadcast on October 21, before he moves to a different BBC show at the station.

Pick of the Pops was first broadcast on the BBC in 1955, and initially featured no chart music at all until it was considerably revamped through the 1960s and 70s.

It has since been axed and revived at several points across many different radio stations over the last 50 years, eventually settling at Radio 2 in 1997.

Now the show focuses primarily on running down archive charts from years gone by, with the most recent show looking in depth at the year 1970.

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