BBC appoints Lorna Clarke as first pop controller

BBC appoints Lorna Clarke as first pop controller

Following some feverish speculation, Lorna Clarke has been named as the first BBC controller of pop music.

The controller of pop music has responsibility for all pop stations - Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 6 Music, Asian Network - and other music output.

Clarke is perhaps a less familiar name in the music industry than other contenders for the job, such as BBC Radio 1/1Xtra/Asian Network controller Ben Cooper.

The role will involve a strategic vision across the pop output, including BBC Music and music television, to improve the programming, provide leadership and work with the music industry to foster new talent.

Clarke said: “My career has been defined by music, and as a music lover I want the BBC to continue to bring the world of music even closer to our listeners. These are exciting times for the BBC and the music industry globally, where change is affecting us all at a rapid pace. I am really looking forward to working with the industry and our partners to continue delivering amazing music for our audiences.”

Clarke was appointed head of production for Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music in 2017. In 2010, she became the network manager for Radio 2 and 6 Music, and in 2011 she also became the network manager for Asian Network. She has almost 30 years’ broadcasting experience, joining Kiss 100 FM in 1990 as London programme director.

In 1997 she joined the BBC, working on Radio 1 and launched the Sara Cox breakfast show. Between 2005 and 2010, she was the director of Electric Proms, for which she launched and curated performances on all the BBC’s pop music stations as well as Radio 3, BBC One and BBC Two.

In other senior appointments at the corporation, Jonathan Wall has been confirmed as the first controller of BBC Sounds and Mohit Bakaya has been named as the next controller of Radio 4 – a role which has taken several months to confirm.

James Purnell, director of radio and education, said: “It’s an exciting time for the audio industry and these are some of the most sought after jobs in radio. There were many impressive candidates, but I’m delighted Jonathan, Lorna and Mohit are taking on these important roles.

“For many of us, radio is a constant companion. It’s also a source of truth and but also sometimes of wonder. With these appointments, we will have a team that works even more closely to continue to love our radio stations and grow BBC Sounds. Working together, BBC Radio can make a difference – to the ideas we debate, the music we love, the way we understand each other. All three of the new controllers talked about how they will empower their new teams, and I look forward to working with them to maximise the creativity of everyone who works with us for the benefit of our millions of listeners.” 

Wall is tasked with growing BBC Sounds, which is one of the BBC’s key priorities. Since launch last year there have been more than 2.3 million downloads of the app, with users now at nearly 1.5 million each week. 

Clarke will start in September, Jonathan Wall and Mohit Bakaya will take on their new roles in August.




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