Simon Mayo opens up about his 'easy' decision to leave BBC Radio 2

Chris Edwards
Simon Mayo said he told the BBC it was a “mistake” to team him up with Jo Whiley

Simon Mayo has revealed that it was an “easy” decision for him to leave Radio 2 after he was teamed up with Jo Whiley.

Mayo hosted the 5pm-7pm slot on the radio show for eight years until Whiley was introduced to the schedule to mix things up.

In October last year, he announced he was leaving the BBC to join classical radio station Scala.

Speaking on Lorraine today, Mayo admitted that it was an easy decision for him to leave Radio 2 because he wanted to start something “brand new”.

“I was quite sad. It was quite a shock to me as well. When it came to it the decision, it was ultimately quite an easy one,” he said.

“Because the decision was, do you want to go and start a brand new radio station doing Scala, or do you want to stay doing this thing you’re doing at Radio 2?

Simon Mayo announced he was quitting BBC Radio 2 in October last year

“I thought, on balance, I’d never been at the start of anything. I’ve never launched anything, I’ve always just joined other networks which has been fine, but the thought of starting something was too impossible to say no to.”

The decision to bring in Whiley was met with criticism and Mayo revealed that he told the BBC he thought it was a “mistake” to introduce the presenter to the show.

“They were trying to do the right thing,” he said. “The Germans have a word for it, which means an improvement which makes things worse. You might have encountered a few. They wanted to do the right thing and they ended up making a mistake, and I did tell them it was a mistake.

He added: “Can I just say at that point, because it’s been reported that listeners deserted in droves, it’s not true. Jo and I finished on 6.2 million listeners, so actually the show worked although it was a bit clunky to start with, which I take full responsibility for.”

Mayo added that the Drivetime show he did at Radio 2 was the happiest he’s ever done. But having spent 30 years at the BBC, where he also presented shows for Radio 1 and Five Live, he decided the opportunity to “jump ship” sounded “promising”.

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