BBC Radio 2 today (Feb. 19) confirmed that Napster's U.K. and international programming director Jeff Smith is to become its new head of music.

Smith takes on the role at the British public broadcaster on 26 March 2007. He succeeds Colin Martin, who announced his retirement in December 2006.

Smith had worked in radio for some 18 years before joining Napster. He is a former head of music policy at national Top 40 station Radio 1 and programming controller at London commercial Top 40 station Capital FM. In 2004, he left Capital and joined Napster, where he was responsible for sourcing content and commissioning new programming initiatives and streamcasts.

In a statement, Smith commented: "It's tremendously exciting for me to be joining BBC Radio 2 and help shape the music policy of the most popular radio station in the U.K. Technology is transforming our industry, and I look forward to working with the music industry and my colleagues at Radio 2 to engage our listeners in the very best music in innovative new ways."`

AC-formated Radio 2 is the U.K.'s most listened-to radio station, with a weekly audience reach in excess of 13 million people. The head of music post is acknowledged as one of the most important radio jobs in the country as it involves control of Radio 2's hugely influential playlist. During his tenure, Martin was widely credited with breaking a number of major artists including James Blunt, KT Tunstall and Paolo Nutini through early Radio 2 support.

Smith is expected to bring the technological experience he gained at Napster to his new role. "For the BBC to recruit from Napster for such a pivotal role in U.K. radio, indicates how important digital has become in the development of the music industry," says Leanne Sharman, Napster U.K. VP/GM.

Smith is widely credited with having played a major part in shaping the current face of BBC Radio 1 during his period there (1997-2000). He founded the station's influential "Evening Session" programme, and brought leading presenters Chris Moyles, Jo Whiley, Trevor Nelson, Stuart Maconie and Steve Lamacq to the broadcaster.