Mike Harding - the voice of folk music on Radio 2 for 15 years - sacked by the station in a single phone call

The musician, who will be replaced as presenter by Mark Radcliffe, claimed no reason was given for the sacking

Mike Harding, the musician who has been voice of folk music on Radio 2 for 15 years, has been sacked by the station with a single phone call.

Harding, 67, who started gigging as a folk musician in the 60s and scored an unlikely chart hit with The Rochdale Cowboy, hosts a weekly show and fronts the BBC’s annual folk awards.

He will be replaced by presenter Mark Radcliffe on the show, which is broadcast at 7pm each Wednesday.

Folk music’s traditional “beards and real ale” image has been overhauled in recent years, following the crossover success of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. Radcliffe is expected to broadcast a mixture of contemporary folk and more traditional artists.

Harding said his departure came as a shock. “Basically I had a phone call from the Controller (Bob Shennan) simply telling me I was sacked,” the broadcaster told The Independent.

He added: “No (future) plans were mentioned. No reason given for dumping me other than they wanted to ‘make it more live’. I didn’t know I was dead.”

Harding has played his role in the current folk revival, building the audience for his weekly show from 70,000 listeners to 860,000. But he said that in his 15 years at the station, the news that he had been axed “was the only phone call I ever got” from his bosses.

Bob Shennan said: “I’d like to thank Mike Harding, who has spent 15 years at the top of his game, delighting fans with his expertise and rooting out the very best folk music.

“On his watch, folk has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity and Mike has been key in supporting the genre and introducing Radio 2 listeners to a broad range of new artists. We very much hope to work with him again in the future.”

Radcliffe, said he was “steeped in folk” and would be “thrilled and honoured” to take over the show. He added: “I am also well aware of how loved and cherished Mike Harding is and it is daunting to be following in his footsteps. He is a friend and someone I respect enormously and I really want to pay tribute to the sterling job he’s done on the Folk Show for so long. Thanks Mike, from all of us.”

Harding, who incorporated stand-up comedy into his music act, fronted his own BBC television series and has written several books, as well as writing music for the cartoon hits DangerMouse and Count Duckula.

Radcliffe already fronts his Music Club on Tuesday nights and hosts a weekday afternoon show with Stuart Maconie on Radio 6 Music.

The BBC said it was expanding its commitment to folk music and the change was designed to broaden the audience for a thriving genre. Sources said Harding had been offered a major series to present in 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...