BBC Radio 2 has announced changes to the late night and overnight schedules on the network. From the end of January, After Midnight (12 midnight-3am), which launched in October 2014, will be decommissioned. The After Midnight show, broadcast from 12am to 3am and presented by Janice Long and Alex Lester, will be replaced on weekdays with re-runs of earlier Radio 2 programmes.
On weekends the slot will be filled by pre-recorded broadcasts from presenters Huey Morgan and Bob Harris. From 3am to 5am, music will play out from recorded Radio 2 playlists. On Monday to Friday between 12 midnight-2am repeats of Sounds of the 60s, Sounds of the 70s, Sounds of the 80s, Pick of the Pops and The Craig Charles House Party will be broadcast. BBC bosses claim the changes to the schedule will reduce costs in the overnight slot by around 40 per cent. The After Midnight show currently attracts 328,000 listeners a week.
Janice Long has been on the “overnights” since 2000, starting out from midnight till 2am then moving to the After Midnight show four days a week, Monday to Thursday, when it was launched in 2014. Alex, who has been broadcasting on Radio 2 for 30 years, presented the show from Friday to Sunday.
“That’s the thing about the nights…you don’t realise…how much of people’s lives you’ve become…the audience will no longer be having a friendly voice talking with them and holding a conversation with them…the output might be top class…but it won’t be the same, it won’t have that intimacy – BBC Radio 2 presenter Alex Lester ** He gained the nickname The Dark Lord after he took over the early morning show in 1990.
Between 2-5am Monday to Friday, and Saturday and Sunday 3-6am, Radio 2 Playlists will feature a broad range of music from Radio 2’s wide repertoire of musical genres. These genre collections will include tracks from the past to the present day, covering folk, country, musical theatre, blues, jazz, funk, pop and soul. They will be hosted by some of Radio 2’s most well-loved expert musical curators. These playlists will allow them to build on their specialist music genre shows with unique guides for listeners to get started in the music that these experts love. Radio 2 Playlists will also feature the very best in acoustic music, love songs, ballads, easy listening tracks and more collections to suit our audience’s moods. These will be refreshed each week and on air will be fronted by a range of familiar and new voices to the network. All of the Radio 2 Playlists will also be available to listen on demand via the BBC Music App.
Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, said: “The station has had to make extremely tough decisions to reduce programming costs in order to make savings in line with the rest of the BBC. “As a relatively small percentage of our audience listens to Radio 2 through the night, changes need to be made to ensure that our programming spend reaches the most listeners. I’d like to thank both Janice Long and Alex Lester for their contributions to the programme.” Both Janice Long and Alex Lester will continue to broadcast on BBC Radio.
Jeff Smith, Head of Music Radio 2 and 6 Music, said: “Radio 2’s audience is increasingly aware of the benefits of streaming music but to date the offering for them has been limited or designed for younger audiences. It’s important that we offer Radio 2 listeners a way into curated, genre and mood orientated playlists but with a distinctive Radio 2 spin. So we are introducing Radio 2 Playlists. These are playlists which are uniquely curated by our leading music presenters and music team and that our audience can enjoy on the radio or on demand as Radio 2 Playlists in the BBC Music app on their mobile devices.”
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