Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper to leave the BBC

Ben Cooper

Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper has announced he is leaving the BBC after eight years running the station.

In an email to staff he said it was a “childhood dream” to work at the station but it was “time for a new challenge”.

Ben, who is also the boss of 1Xtra and Asian Network, says he’s “proud” of what his teams have achieved together over the years.

It’s not been revealed where he will be heading to next.

Ben said the role of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network in “celebrating and championing youth culture” is “so important” for the BBC.

“Whether that is the new music we play or reflecting the issues that concern young people today, I’m very proud of what we have achieved together over the years.”

He thanked his teams for being “creative, ambitious and passionate” and said their work was “greatly appreciated”.

Ben said he would be continuing in his role until the new year.

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Ben Cooper was in charge when Nick Grimshaw took over the Radio 1 breakfast show in 2012

During his eight years as head of Radio 1, Ben has seen some huge changes and brought some big names into the BBC.

He was in charge when Nick Grimshaw began hosting the Radio 1 breakfast show in 2011 – which saw him become the second-longest running breakfast show presenter in Radio 1 history.

Ben also oversaw a big shake-up of the Radio 1 line-up in 2018 – moving the weekend schedule forward to start on Fridays.

He brought in new Friday shows for Maya Jama and The Saturdays’ Mollie King – and Scott Mills began hosting the chart show.

In April this year, he also poached former Kiss FM breakfast hosts Ricky, Melvin and Charlie to Radio 1.

The trio took over the 9-11pm show which had previously been presented by Charlie Sloth.

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Radio 1 presenters Rickie Haywood Williams, Charlie Hedges and Melvin Odoom

Charlie left Radio 1 and 1Xtra “with immediate effect” in October 2018 – and didn’t finish his final ten shows as originally planned.

He had been in the spotlight for storming the stage and delivering a sweary, Kanye West-esque rant at an awards show.

On the night, Ben got up onto the stage shortly after to accept an award on behalf of Radio 1.

“I’d just like to say Charlie Sloth has left the building and is leaving Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Apologies,” he told the audience.

In an email to BBC staff, James Purnell, Director, Radio Education, said Ben had kept Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network “fresh and relevant”.

He said under Ben’s leadership Radio 1 had become “more than just a radio station” and was a “hugely impactful youth brand” with more than 15 million weekly YouTube views and 10 million social followers.

James added: “He’s championed new talent, both on and off air, and built lasting relationships with the music industry.

“Ben has also protected the unbeatable place we have in the lives of young people in the UK, ensuring our radio stations remain the go to places for the biggest global music acts.”

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