BBC names first Controllers of Pop Music and Sounds

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

The BBC said it has appointed Mohit Bakaya as the next Controller of Radio 4, and named Lorna Clarke as the first Controller of Pop Music and Jonathan Wall as first Controller of BBC Sounds.  

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.

Radio relevance 

“For many of us, radio is a constant companion. It’s also a source of truth and 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.”

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

As Controller, Lorna Clarke will have a strategic vision across the portfolio, including BBC Music and music television, to keep improving what we offer audiences; provide leadership to the teams; and work with the music industry, fostering the BBC’s crucial role in developing new talent.

“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”, Clarke said. 

Exciting times

“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.”

With more than 11 million listeners each week, Radio 4 is the second most listened to station in the UK and every day has more original content than any other broadcaster in the world. 

Millions of people also listen to Radio 4’s podcasts, factual and arts programmes, drama and comedy online and on demand, with a record 16.4 million downloads last October in the UK alone.

Mohit Bakaya, Controller of Radio 4, says: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about Radio 4. I know what the station means to our listeners and the unique place it has in the public consciousness and important role it plays in the national debate.

“The intellectual ambition of the network and the thought-provoking, and often awe-inspiring, programmes we broadcast are more important now than ever. 

“After being a Commissioning Editor at the network for several years, it will be a privilege to lead Radio 4 and the brilliant staff who, every day, make it the valued and much loved station it is.”

Growing BBC Sounds 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 the number of people using Sounds continuing to increase and now at nearly 1.5 million users each week. 

Developing strategy 

As the new Controller, Jonathan Wall will have responsibility for coordinating activity across the organisation to achieve the BBC’s ambitions, develop the strategy for Sounds as well as have an overview of the content that is being commissioned for BBC Sounds by the radio, music and podcast teams.

“After 21 wonderful years at 5 live it is time for a fresh challenge”, Wall said. 

“BBC Sounds, alongside iPlayer, will help make the BBC thrive and it’s a privilege to get the chance to lead so many talented people who want to make sure we reach as many listeners as possible with our brilliant radio, music and podcasts. I can’t wait to get started.”

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

Richard Maddock will become Acting Controller of Radio 5 live, supported by Heidi Dawson as Managing Editor. 

The BBC said it would advertise for the Controller of Radio 5 live in the near future. 

With the appointment of Controller of BBC Sounds the temporary post of Launch Director of BBC Sounds has closed. The appointment into these roles does not add to the senior level headcount in BBC Radio and Education.

Buy your tickets for the Prolific London Awards

The inaugural event takes place on July 16th