BBC Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper to leave the BBC

BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network Controller Ben Cooper is leaving the BBC after 16 years in management.

Ben began his career in BBC Local Radio, presenting and producing on Hereford & Worcester and as a journalist at Three Counties Radio before becoming a producer at Radio 1. During that time he was an on air voice on Chris Moyles’ early breakfast show as ‘Producer Ben’.

He left the BBC in 2001 to join Capital as an Executive Producer, before returning to Radio 1 after two years, first as Head of Mainstream then as Head of Programmes and Deputy Controller.

Earlier this year Ben was in the running to take on the new role of Controller of Pop Music, which went to Lorna Clarke, who started the new position in September overseeing BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio 6 Music.

In an email to staff on Tuesday afternoon, James Purnell, Director, Radio & Education said: “Throughout his time with us, Ben has kept the stations fresh and relevant with his intuitive leadership and sharp editorial instincts. The Listen, Watch, Share strategy which he has pioneered has made Radio 1 more than just a radio station – today it’s a hugely impactful youth brand with more than 15 million weekly YouTube views and over 10 million social followers.

“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.”

Ben announced the news to his colleagues on email. He wrote:

I wanted you to know, that after much thought and consideration, I am going to leave the BBC.

It was a childhood dream of mine to work at Radio 1 and I’m grateful to have done that not only as a producer but then also as Controller.

After 8 years of ‘Listen, Watch, Share’, it’s time for a new challenge.

What our stations do for the BBC is so important – celebrating and championing youth culture in our society, whether that is the new music we play or reflecting the issues that concern young people today – and I’m very proud of what we have achieved together over the years.

Thank you for being part of an incredible team of teams that has been so creative, ambitious and passionate.

It is greatly appreciated.

I’ll be working through to the new year, so it will be business as usual until then.

For now, it has been a privilege and a huge honour to be Controller of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network.

Ben was the 8th Controller of BBC Radio 1, following on from Robin Scott, Douglas Muggeridge, Charles McLelland, Derek Chinnery, Johnny Beerling, Matthew Bannister, Andy Parfitt. He leaves in the new year.