Is BBC radio safe in James Purnell’s hands? When the former Labour minister was made director of radio, in 2016, he took on a delicate task. You could call it the Marks & Sparks conundrum: how do you drag a venerable institution into the modern age without alienating its loyal users?
It isn’t going well. Insiders grumble that Purnell doesn’t actually believe in radio. He thinks (rightly) that the future lies in podcasts and music streaming: hence, his obsession with the BBC Sounds app, which is supposed to pull in younger audiences. But rumour has it that listener numbers are embarrassingly low.
Nevertheless, Purnell is doubling down. The BBC announced last week that it is cutting 50 radio jobs,...
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