5 Mar 2013 at 15:55
As a radio presenter you always get nervous when contract renewal time comes round, and I am no different. I’ve had very good Rajars (audience figures, for the uninitiated) and feel that both my evening shows and Sunday shows have done well in attracting a bit of a new audience to LBC. But you never know. Radio can be a cruel industry. If your face no longer fits, out you go. So when James Rea, the Managing Editor of LBC opened the meeting by saying: “I think you have taken the evening show as far as you can,” you can imagine that my heart slightly sank. Surely he wasn’t going to fire me, was he?
Well no, he wasn’t. Quite the contrary. He then asked me to be the new presenter of LBC’s Drivetime show – and not only that, he wants the show to be four hours long instead of three. So to cut a long story short, this Thursday will be my last evening show, and next Monday I start presenting Drive from 4-8pm every weeknight. I will continue to present the Sunday morning show for the next three weeks, but that too will then get a new, as yet unannounced, presenter. LBC legend Clive Bull will be presenting the evening show, from 8-10 in future.
I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity and hopefully I can build on what James Whale has achieved in his four years on the show. I’m really sad to see James go as he has been fantastic to me and become a good friend since I joined LBC in September 2010. We have a very different style, but I have learned so much from him. He is one of the iconic broadcasters of the last three decades and I hope we see him back on the radio before too long.
Any change in presenter is always difficult and James has a huge following, so I am well aware that I have big shoes to fill. All I ask is that those who are understandably lamenting James’s departure all over Twitter and elsewhere will have the good grace to give me a fair chance.
I will really miss the evening show, especially doing some of the more emotional subjects which you can’t really do in the Drivetime slot. I’ll also miss the 9pm hours, although I am taking the book club with me.
The new Drivetime show will gradually transform into something a little different. Phone-ins will remain at its core, but we want to introduce more business and culture spots into it, as well as some big name guests who will take calls from listeners. If you have never listened before, do give it a try! I start this Monday at 4pm.
Here’s the press release put out by Global Radio this afternoon…
LBC 97.3 to refresh weekday evening schedule
Global Radio’s LBC 97.3 is today announcing a new look to its weekday evening schedule. From Monday 11th March, political heavyweight Iain Dale moves from the evening show to host the coveted weekday Drivetime programme (Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm), while Clive Bull, one of LBC 97.3’s longest-serving presenters, returns to weekday evenings on the station (Monday to Thursday, 8pm to 10pm).
The announcement comes as the station enjoys its highest ever audience figures, with 1.3 million people* now tuning in across the UK every week.
Iain Dale has replaced James Whale who has left the station.
Iain Dale said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been asked to present LBC 97.3’s Drivetime show, after two and a half years with the station. These are big shoes to fill. The new show is going to be a real mix of the big stories and interviews, but the constant thread throughout will be our callers. They’re the ones with the stories, as I know from my evening show. I want the Drivetime show to both lead and reflect London’s agenda and the priorities of Londoners. I can’t wait to get started.”
James Rea, LBC 97.3’s Managing Editor said: “LBC 97.3 has always been home to some of the country’s best broadcasters and I know that Iain and Clive will help drive the station forward in this, our 40th birthday year.”
LBC 97.3 broadcasts in Greater London on 97.3 FM and across the UK on digital and online at lbc.co.uk