Ex-Radio 4 host says BBC is 'spooked' by lack of young listeners

BBC Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton. (BBC)
BBC Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton. (BBC)

Former BBC Radio 4 host Roger Bolton says the broadcaster is 'spooked' by the lack of young people who listen to the radio.

The 76-year-old Bolton was speaking after it was recently announced that he had been axed from hosting Radio 4's Feedback after 23 years.

Speaking to BBC News, Bolton said: "The BBC is spooked, generally, by the fact that younger people are not coming to broadcast programmes, so they're investing very heavily in podcasts, and hoping that that way, they'll attract younger people."

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Bolton also said that he understood the move to replace him: "At the same time, they have to be careful that their presenting team aren't all of a certain age... So my guess is, and I've no first-hand knowledge of this, that this [decision] is part of the process.

Broadcasting House, the headquarters of BBC Northern Ireland in Belfast city center.
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Belfast, Northern Ireland (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
BBC Radio has implemented a talent shake up in recent months. (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"They've looked at the presenters, people who've been here for a long time, and they've decided to make some changes — not an unreasonable thing to do."

In response, a BBC spokesperson said: "Throughout the decades, Radio 4 has kept up with the fast-changing broadcasting landscape by occasionally refreshing its programmes and team of presenters, creating new opportunities along the way."

BBC Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton. (BBC)
BBC Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton. (BBC)

They went on to praise Bolton's contribution to Feedback and the BBC: "We're hugely grateful to Roger for being a brilliant presenter of Feedback for nearly a quarter of a century. He's been a champion of our listeners, asked incisive questions of programme makers and helped the audience understand more about BBC radio."

Feedback airs complaints, praise and other views sent in by listeners about BBC radio programmes, and is broadcast on Radio 4 on Fridays. It is produced by an external production company, partly for reasons of editorial independence.

BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright. (BBC)
BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright. (BBC)

A number of longtime presenters from Radio 2 have also been moved on or had their shows shuffled recently including Vanessa Feltz, Steve Wright and Paul O'Grady.

Bolton will present his final episode of Feedback this coming Friday on 2 September.

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