Head of Radio 2 Lewis Carnie has told Music Week that the new extended Drivetime show featuring Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo is “finding its feet”.
The pairing has attracted online criticism from listeners and negative press coverage claiming a lack of chemistry. Jo Whiley became the first female DJ on the station's weekday daytime schedule for 20 years.
The BBC initially responded to complaints following the decision to add Whiley to the slot – originally presented by Mayo since 2010 – by noting the pair’s 25-year friendship and suggesting the show would “settle down”.
“I think it’s going very well,” said Carnie three months on from the launch. “Obviously a lot of listeners were unhappy when it started but it just takes things a while to find their feet. When Chris Evans took over from Terry Wogan, it was the same; when Chris Evans replaced Johnnie Walker on Drivetime years ago, it was the same. People tend to be very loyal to us and like what we’ve got.
People tend to be very loyal to us and like what we’ve got
“From our point of view, we have to think about how we can refresh things, get new listeners, keep programmes current. We are always looking at ways to do that, and we thought that was the right way to do it. We wanted to extend Drivetime, we wanted to have a whole new presentation style, and that’s where we went with it. It seems to now be finding its feet and doing quite well.”
As yet there has been no ratings dive in the slot for Radio 2. The new show started mid-way through the latest Q2 RAJAR results, which showed a quarter-on-quarter increase in reach for that time slot from 6.23m to 6.31m.
“People just don’t always like change too much,” said Carnie. “It’s a hard thing because in television people are used to it all the time, but with radio it’s such a big part of people’s lives and a certain part of the audience is very change-resistant. But you have to keep thinking about where the network is going and how you want to develop – you can’t just do the same things forever. You have to keep it fresh.”
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