Radio 1 'terminal case', says former disc jockey

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The Independent Online
SIMON BATES, the former Radio 1 disc jockey, bit back at his old employers yesterday with a scathing attack on John Birt and elitism at the BBC.

Mr Bates, who resigned on air last year in protest at changes on the popular station, claimed that the senior hierarchy at the BBC had become the slave to the all- powerful figure of John Birt, the Director-General.

Mr Bates, 46, claimed to be one of the people who were being ignored in the corporation's shake- up. 'Those management changes led of the departure of myself and several other presenters from the BBC. You see, the men at the top had long been uncomfortable with a service which they regarded as broadcasting's equivalent of Essex Man. But though they no doubt considered the disc jockeys awful and vulgar, and the music quite ghastly, the pre-Birt generation had enough sense to leave it well alone'.

There was a real danger that executives would increasingly cut themselves off from the interests of listeners and viewers. 'The management's world is a metropolitan world. It is dominated, naturally, by what the new managers are doing - dining at the fashionable clubs and restaurants of the West End . . . living in Hampstead and Chiswick, going to the football (and good seats too) on a Saturday, cottages in the country for the odd weekend, chauffeur-driven cars, tickets for the theatre or a fashionable pop concert. This is a dilettante's world - a million miles from reality.'

The attack follows depressing listening figures for Radio 1, announced earlier this week, which showed a slump of 2.2m in the number of listeners in 12 months.

'The corporation's management has abandoned the idea of a mass channel and is bent on creating an elitist 'acceptable' middle-class radio station,' Mr Bates wrote in the Daily Mail, adding that Radio 1 now looked like a 'terminal case'.

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