The Daily Telegraph

Radio 3 brings in long-time critic to strike a chord with listeners

Hiring ex-classic FM boss should be music to the ears of audience who accused station of ‘dumbing down’

- By Craig Simpson

RADIO 3 has been accused of being out of tune with its listeners, but one of its sternest critics has been appointed to lead the station in a move that may bring it back into harmony with its core audience.

Sam Jackson, the former Classic FM managing editor, who once derided the BBC for “aping” his accessible classical output in an attempt to attract younger listeners, has now been hired by the broadcaste­r.

Mr Jackson was yesterday named as controller for Radio 3, and insiders have suggested his clear understand­ing of the station’s remit will be “pleasing for more traditiona­l listeners” who have balked at a perceived recent trend of “dumbing down”.

It has been suggested that he will aim to reinvigora­te the BBC’S home of jazz and classical, which has suffered recent slump in audience numbers, while not “betraying the purpose of the station”.

Mr Jackson will take over from Alan Davey, who was his rival while working at Classic FM. Mr Davey’s tenure at Radio 3 has been criticised for programmin­g pitched at a young audience, which the BBC as a whole has been keen to attract.

This included Tearjerker, a series hosted by R&B artist Jorja Smith, that aired tracks by Justin Bieber and Kanye West on Radio 3. The series aimed to “help listeners unwind” with “classicall­y infused down-tempo hip hop”.

The station, with an audience largely aged 65 and over, again drew criticism for lurching towards a younger cohort by recruiting singer Celeste to present a series of shows promising listeners “chilled” music that would “reset your mind”.

Mr Jackson himself criticised the apparent intention of Radio 3 to become more like Classic FM, which had successful­ly attracted younger listeners under his leadership, saying that Mr Davey was “aping” Classic FM’S more accessible programmin­g.

He argued that Radio 3 should not try to “duplicate” its rival, but instead should put “clear blue water” between the two stations.

It is understood that while Mr Jackson is the youngest ever controller of Radio 3 at just 39, he will aim to maintain the distance between the two classical stations, and seek to avoid the pitfalls of programmin­g pitched at younger audiences.

Speaking after his appointmen­t as controller of Radio 3 and the BBC’S Proms output, he said: “BBC Radio 3 is unlike any other station: a network delivering ambitious, unique content, with live classical music at its core.

“This ambition, quality and diversity must stay at the heart of everything Radio 3 and the BBC Proms deliver.

I’m thrilled to be tasked with driving both Radio 3 and the Proms forward, with the help of brilliant people across the BBC and the wider music sector.”

Insiders have commented on Mr Jackson, saying that “music runs through him like a stick of rock” and that his rise in the world of music broadcasti­ng at Classic FM, Smooth, and Gold has been “meteoric”. At Classic FM he oversaw the station’s output.

Classical music radio suffered a decline in listeners last year, according to Rajar, the audience ratings body. BBC Radio 3’s audience reach fell almost 20 per cent to 1.7 million average weekly listeners in October last year, from 2.1 million in October

the year before.

 ?? ?? Sam Jackson, 39, is Radio 3’s youngest ever controller
Sam Jackson, 39, is Radio 3’s youngest ever controller

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