2019 Latin Grammys

BBC Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper Announces Exit

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The BBC Broadcasting House in London.

LONDON — BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper is to leave the broadcaster after eight years at the helm of the U.K.'s leading top 40 radio station.

Cooper announced his decision to step down from the £200,000 ($258,000) a year job in an email sent to staff earlier today (Oct. 22), seen by Billboard. He said it had been a childhood dream of his to work at BBC Radio 1 but that it was “time for a new challenge.”  

As well as being controller of Radio 1, London-based Cooper responsibilities include editorial content, leadership and overall management of the urban-focused digital radio station 1Xtra and Asian Network.

The exec began his career in BBC Local Radio before becoming a producer at Radio 1. He was appointed controller in 2011 after a spell as acting and deputy controller.

During his time at the helm of the station, Cooper oversaw a major revamp of Radio 1's schedule and helped grow its digital audience to more than 15 million weekly YouTube views and 10 million social media followers.

According to the latest RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) figures, Radio 1 had a weekly reach of 10.5 million listeners aged 10-plus in the second quarter of 2019, up from 10.1 million in Q1. 1Xtra reached 1.17 million weekly listeners in the same period, up on 1.13 million at the start of the year.

In an email to BBC staff, James Purnell, the Beeb's director of radio and education, said Radio 1 had become "more than just a radio station" under Cooper's “intuitive leadership" and established itself as a "hugely impactful youth brand."

"He's championed new talent, both on and off air and built lasting relationships with the music industry," said Purnell. "Ben has also protected the unbeatable place we have in the lives of young people in the U.K., ensuring our radio stations remain the go to places for the biggest global music acts,” he added. 

Cooper is yet to announce what his next move will be. He told staff he will be continuing in his current role until the new year.


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