Radio 2 announces overnight schedule changes

Live overnight programmes on BBC Radio 2 will be replaced with repeats and curated playlists from the end of January.

After Midnight launched in October 2014, replacing separate programmes between midnight and 6am by Janice Long and Alex Lester. Both presenters will continue to broadcast on BBC Radio.

Huey Morgan’s show will broadcast between midnight and 3am on Saturdays, while Bob Harris will broadcast in the same slot on Sundays. On weekdays between 12 midnight and 2am the station will broadcast repeats of Sounds of the 60s, Sounds of the 70s, Sounds of the 80s, Pick of the Pops and The Craig Charles House Party.

A new programme, Radio 2 Playlists, will take up the 2-5am, Monday to Friday, and 3-6am, Saturday and Sunday slots. The station says a “broad range of music from Radio 2’s wide repertoire of musical genres” will be played, including tracks from the past to today. The playlists will be hosted by well-known Radio 2 voices, building on specialist music shows.

Jeff Smith, Head of Music Radio 2 and 6 Music, said: “These are playlists which are uniquely curated by our leading music presenters and music team and that our audience can enjoy on the radio or on demand as Radio 2 Playlists in the BBC Music app on their mobile devices.”

The playlists will also feature the “very best in acoustic music, love songs, ballads, easy listening tracks and more collections”. These will be refreshed each week. All of the playlists will be available to listen to on demand via the BBC Music app.

Cost savings are being cited as the reason for the schedule change. Alex Lester joined BBC Radio 2 in 1987 and presented the early morning programme for 24 years, earning a dedicated following among nightshift workers. Janice Long started hosting the late night programme in 2000 and has featured many new and unsigned artists with live studio performances.

“Radio 2 has had to make extremely tough decisions to reduce programming costs in order to make savings in line with the rest of the BBC,” said Lewis Carnie, Head of BBC Radio 2.

“As a relatively small percentage of our audience listens to Radio 2 through the night, changes need to be made to ensure that our programming spend reaches the most listeners. I’d like to thank both Janice Long and Alex Lester for their contributions to the programme.”