In what was described as a "historic day" for Radio 1, brash breakfast presenter Chris Moyles was yesterday replaced by 27-year-old Nick Grimshaw in an effort to drive down the average age of the BBC's youth radio station.
The pivotal decision to end Moyles's reign on the flagship show after more than eight years signals a departure from a laddish "zoo" broadcasting format that has brought success and controversy in equal measure. During his time at the breakfast show Moyles has built an audience of 7 million but been accused of sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, prompting repeated rumours that he was on the verge of being sacked.
Instead, he announced his departure on air to his audience. "I'm just going to give a heads up that we're going to wrap it up," he said. "It's almost time to go, we're off. A couple more months of us and then it's someone else's turn to have a go." Grimshaw is 11 years younger than Moyles. He is also a less macho character, known for hanging out on the London party circuit with a string of famous female friends, including Agyness Deyn, Kelly Osbourne and Peaches Geldof.
"We are a youth brand and youth brands will often suddenly let the pendulum swing another way," Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper told The Independent. "You have had a big zoo format breakfast show that has been very successful. What you might do is replace it with a very successful but different sounding breakfast show and that's what I'm looking for."
The new role is a big challenge for Grimshaw who moves from Radio 1's 10pm slot.
The station was recently criticised by the BBC Trust for having a median listening age of 30, outside its 15-29 demographic.
Moyles, who styled himself the saviour of Radio 1, revitalised the breakfast show and delivered the mass audience which allowed the station to be more musically adventurous in its evening schedule. But he also caused anger, such as with comments about "gay" ringtones.
Ruth Hunt, of Stonewall, said: 'It's unlikely many gay people will miss Chris Moyles – after all, many of us were introduced to his 'sense of humour' by playground bullies long before he was on air. "
Chris Moyles: Highs and lows
Born in Leeds in 1974, Moyles had his own show on the local Radio Topshop by the time he was 16. Five years later he signs to London's Capital FM. Joins Radio 1 in 1997 and is accused by the John Peel as being a "DLT-in-waiting".
Moyles retaliated, calling Peel a "Kenny Everett-in-waiting because Kenny's dead and it's only a matter of time before John pops his clogs."
In 2002 he sparked outrage by offering to take the virginity of Charlotte Church on her 16th birthday. Two years later he is promoted to the breakfast slot on Radio 1. He then calls Victoria Beckham a "whore" live on air during the first show.
Moyles becomes Radio 1's longest-serving breakfast presenter in 2009. New figures show Radio 2's Chris Evans has two million more listeners.