‘There were times when I felt I wasn’t really noticed’: Ken Bruce says he wasn’t given the credit he deserved at the BBC
Ken Bruce has revealed he wasn’t given the credit he deserved at the BBC and is ‘disappointed’ with the way they treated him.
The veteran Scottish radio presenter, 72, is best known for presenting his mid-morning BBC Radio 2 show from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1992 to 2023.
Ken announced in January that he would be leaving the BBC after 31 years to join rival commercial station Greatest Hits Radio.
He told Radio Times: ‘I probably wanted to prove a few things to myself, and maybe to some other people, about my worth on Radio 2.
‘There were times when I felt I wasn’t really noticed by either the BBC itself or some listeners. So I thought, ‘I’m going to make these people appreciate me.
Speaking out: Ken Bruce has revealed he wasn’t given the credit he deserved at the BBC and is ‘disappointed’ with the way they treated him
‘And having done that to my satisfaction, I felt it was time to give myself a little challenge, try something different, rather than become stale and wait for the axe.’
Ken also revealed he’s not best pleased that Radio 2 asked him to step down from the show before his contract had fully expired. His last show was at the beginning of March.
He said: ‘I’m a little bit disappointed by that, I have to say. Because I thought that, after 45 years, I could be trusted to do the right thing for the next few weeks. But obviously it’s up to them. It’s their choice.’
It comes after Ken revealed he is ‘struggling’ with how the hours of his workday will change after exiting the BBC.
His new show airs from 10am to 1pm and will feature PopMaster, which Bruce has brought over from the BBC due to him trademarking the long-standing segment, and hit songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
The popular radio quiz is still airing at the same time from 10.30pm to 10.50pm.
When asked if there are adjustments he has to make since moving to Bauer, Bruce said: ‘I’m struggling to work my day out.
‘I think I’m going to be going to bed an hour later because I just have to squeeze everything into the remaining hours of the day.
‘Once I get my body clock, right. I think I’ll be all right, but I’m really enjoying having a half-hour extra in bed every morning.’
Career: Ken announced in January that he would be leaving the BBC after 31 years to join rival commercial station Greatest Hits Radio
The radio DJ added that he will be ‘looking for lunch’ at 12.30pm when he is on-air and joked there will be a ‘problem with the microphones’ during this time.
He also said his new radio show after leaving the BBC will be ‘much the same’ and he is not looking to introduce ‘massive great bells and whistles stuff’ into the format.
Bruce added: ‘It’s just going to be nice things to keep people engaged, keep people listening, and taking part in the show, it’ll just be much the same as it was before just in a different place.’
He told Radio Times : ‘I probably wanted to prove a few things to myself, and maybe to some other people, about my worth on Radio 2.’
After joining BBC Radio Scotland in 1977 in his 30s, he went on to several other shows at the corporation.
When asked how he was feeling about the move from a workplace after more than 40 years, Bruce said: ‘Well, I’ve got lots of friends still working at the BBC and who worked at the BBC for a long time, and still I’m very, very warm towards the BBC.
‘I think it’s a great organisation. It was just time for me to leave and now … it’s been quite a few weeks and really, I’m looking forward to doing a month or two, maybe a year or two, maybe a decade or two, on Greatest Hits Radio.’
Bruce said he also has ‘plans’ to branch out to other avenues before adding he is not as young as he ‘used to be’.
The BBC announced Gary Davies, host of the station’s Sounds Of The 80s will present the mid-morning show from March until TV presenter Vernon Kay takes over Bruce’s Radio 2 slot at a date in the future.
Bruce said he was seen as ‘the young pretender’ when he first fronted the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, taking over from ‘the great’ Sir Terry Wogan in 1985.
He added: ‘I did get a fair bit of criticism but you just have to ride that through and people are always comparing something they’ve listened to for a long time with something that’s brand new they’re not familiar with.’
Moving on: After joining BBC Radio Scotland in 1977 in his 30s, Bruce said of the BBC: ‘I’m still very, very warm towards the BBC. I think it’s a great organisation. It was just time for me to leave’
Bruce later moved to mid-mornings in 1986 and after a brief stint on late nights and early mornings, returned to mid-mornings in January 1992.
He added: ‘I don’t give advice to other broadcasters, (Sir Terry) refused to give me any advice….I asked him for it, he wouldn’t do it.
‘So, I don’t think I should give advice, but this will pass is all I ever can say…if it’s not going as well as you might like, it’ll get better soon. Don’t worry, keep at it.’
Bruce on Greatest Hits Radio airs weekdays from 10am to 1pm.
Ken Bruce’s exit interview ahead of his final show on BBC Radio 2
On what makes radio broadcasting special…
It’s the anonymity, the ability to just be one part of yourself and communicate only in one way with someone who’s just listening to you, it’s a very direct communication. That’s the thing that appeals most.
On the secret to his popularity…
If I knew that, I would’ve done it a lot earlier than this. I don’t think you can ever analyse why something is popular. It becomes popular without you noticing or trying, and the more you try the less it will happen. A good relationship between broadcaster and listener is just something that grows and develops naturally.
On what he finds most difficult…
Getting up in the morning. Once I’m up and heading to work I’m fine. I’m on air at 9.30, finish at 10 and I’ve often said I feel better at the end of a programme than I did at the beginning. I’m sorry that it’s finished.
On how he’ll end the show…
It’ll just be a quick goodbye, I will not be tugging at heartstrings, mainly because I don’t want to tug at my own. I’ll just be saying that’s the end of this particular era of my life, but there’ll be a continuation. I love daily broadcasting, it’s what I’ve done for years and years. I’ve been on BBC radio five days a week since 1977 so it’s going to be different, it’s going to change me a bit but I still want to be on the air every day.
On whether he’ll be emotional…
No, I’ll be looking at the clock thinking get out on time…maybe a touch, but I’m a hard bitten old Scot.
On whether he knows what he’ll say…
I don’t, it will come to me at the time, I might jot a note or two but I don’t like to write anything in sentences I just like to write a couple of ideas and I’ll say what comes to mind in the moment.
On if he knows what his last song will be…
I do now but I’m not going to reveal that until the last moment.
On his departure…
It’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early. Gardening leave is a known concept in broadcasting and many other areas but for the sake of 17 days which was all that was remaining it seems a shame but you just adapt your timetable. Instead of three weeks, it’s one week, that’s been fine. My belief is when I’m given a contract I work to it and complete it. Over the last 46 years I haven’t had very much time off ever, I’ve attempted to turn up whenever I’m required to turn up so my natural feeling as a broadcaster is if I’ve got 17 days to do, I want to do them.
On his best moment…
Talking to you, Gary. I can die happy now. I can’t actually pick out a moment. I’ve loved everything I love every day, just a normal day. Meeting special people, someone like James Taylor or Carole King when they came into the studio. These were more nerve-wracking than everything so I didn’t enjoy them in the moment because I was thinking I must get this right and not say something stupid to James Taylor, for goodness sake. Nut I love just doing a normal daily programme, trying to make myself laugh and other people.
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