Top presenters go as Talk Radio flounders

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The Independent Online
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Talk Radio UK plunged into further turmoil yesterday after revelations that its political presenter, Trevor cDonald, has decided to quit and Simon Bates, the former Radio 1 disc jockey, had been axed.

Jonathan King, who hosted the mid-morning show, has also been told that his contract at the national radio station will not be renewed as it struggles to contain losses of up to pounds 1m a month.

The decision to sack r Bates - who was hired at a salary of pounds 120,000 a year - followed a 10 per cent drop in audience figures to just over 300,000 for his breakfast show which began last October. Surprisingly perhaps, research showed that listeners did not like his most famous contribution, Our Tune, which had won a lucrative sponsorship deal with Kleenex.

"It was just not popular. People who listened to Bates did not want to know. Audience figures fell by 8 per cent when it came on," a Talk Radio insider said. The DJ is now consulting his lawyers.

Trevor cDonald, who anchors News at Ten, only managed to pull in 100,000 listeners for his flagship Sunday morning political show.

The axing of the big-name presenters represents yet another U-turn for the national commercial station, which hired them last year after its launch concept of "shock-jock" radio proved a flop.

Now struggling to maintain audiences of under 2 million - compared to 4.6 million for Classic F and 4.2 million for Virgin Radio, its only two national rivals - it is now on to its third attempt at a fresh start under the management of Travis Baxter, managing director of CLT, which runs the station. Jason Bryant, the third programme director of the station since it began in February last year, said: "I want to put a line-up of presenters together which appeals to the public. It sounds easy to do, but it isn't."

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