Who is Ken Bruce, the BBC Radio 2 presenter leaving his show after 31 years?

Ken Bruce is moving to Greatest Hits Radio  (Marco Vittur)
Ken Bruce is moving to Greatest Hits Radio (Marco Vittur)

BBC Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce is leaving the broadcaster after 31 years. For many, this is a major moment – Bruce has been a huge part of people’s lives for decades.

Speaking about his exit, he said: “I’ll reach the end of my current contract in March, and so at that point I will be moving on from Radio 2... I have been here for quite a long time now, and it possibly is time to move over and let somebody else have a go.”

He added: “Nothing stays the same forever. I’ve done everything it is possible to do at Radio 2. I’ve always felt I’ve got something more to prove. I hope that when people hear the news they will say: ‘Sorry to hear you’re going Ken, but maybe I’ll follow you to wherever it is you’re going’.”

But Bruce fans will be able to continue to listen to the presenter, as he is moving over to Greatest Hits Radio. Bauer Media, which owns the radio station, said: “We are beyond excited to announce that the legendary @RealKenBruce will be joining the Bauer family... Get ready for more PopMaster and all your favourite songs from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties.”

Fans reacted in shock to the news: “No!! Not Ken Bruce too. The only reason left for tuning into the now unbearable @BBCRadio2,” Tweeted one, while another said: “NO !!!!! Ken Bruce can’t leave, he just can’t. What will happen to #popmaster?” and a third said, “Consider Radio 2 dead in the water now that Ken Bruce has called it a day.”

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Here’s everything to know about the BBC stalwart.

Where is Bruce from?

The 71-year-old is from Glasgow, and, surprisingly, originally trained to be an accountant.

However he made the switch to broadcasting early on in his career: he started out working at Glasgow’s Hospital Broadcasting Service and from there went to BBC Radio 4 Scotland, where he was an announcer.

When BBC Radio Scotland launched in 1978, 27-year-old Bruce became one of the first presenters of its show Nightbeat.

Where is he based now?

Bruce, a father of six, now lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, radio researcher Kerith Coldham, whom he married in 2000.

How long has Ken Bruce been at the BBC?

Bruce has been been working for the BBC since 1977. He began his current permanent slot at the station in 1992.

Ken Bruce and Jo Whiley onstage at the BBC Radio 2 Live concert in Hyde Park in 2012 (PA)
Ken Bruce and Jo Whiley onstage at the BBC Radio 2 Live concert in Hyde Park in 2012 (PA)

What is PopMaster?

PopMaster is a much-loved pop music quiz section of Bruce’s daily midday radio show, which began in 1998, where two contestants battle it out to win a smart speaker.

Ken Bruce’s show reportedly has as many as 8.5 million weekly listeners – which makes it the most listed-to show on UK radio. It often includes live music performances, dedications, and of course, lots of music.

What else has presented?

As well as his radio show, Bruce has presented BBC’s Proms in the Park, has been Radio 2’s longstanding Eurovision Song Contest commentator, and regularly presents BBC’s Sunday Night is Music Night show.

What has Bruce said about radio?

In an BBC interview, published in April 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, Bruce said: “Radio does provide friendship, companionship, in an undemanding kind of way, so strong relationships are formed between listener and broadcaster on radio, and I think that will only increase as time goes on.”

Where can you find out more about Bruce?

In 2009, he published an autobiography called The Tracks of My Years: The Autobiography, which is still available to buy at Waterstones and on Amazon. In the book he talks about growing up in Glasgow in the Fifties, interviewing stars such as Sean Connery and Billy Connolly, and raising an autistic son.

What are people saying about his exit?

The BBC’s Director of Music, Lorna Clarke, said: “He has been part of every significant occasion marked by BBC Radio 2 and we, his faithful audience and the Radio 2 all-star line-up will miss his warm humour and wit. Congratulations on a brilliant career.”

Broadcaster Rylan Clark-Neal Tweeted: “Ken Bruce. A beautiful man who’s always been so lovely to me at @BBCRadio2”, while comedian Tim Vine said: “He certainly will be missed. There’s a positivity and a life enhancing friendliness to Ken Bruce on the radio that is deeply reassuring. As soon as you hear his voice all is right with the world.”