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July 9, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:02am

BBC appoints new controller of Radio 4 as 5 Live chief moves to lead BBC Sounds

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC has appointed Mohit Bakaya as the new controller of Radio 4.

Bakaya has been the station’s commissioning editor for factual since 2008 and is set to change roles next month.

He will replace Gwyneth Williams, who announced she planned to step down as controller of Radio 4 in January after almost nine years.

Bakaya said: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about Radio 4. I know what the station means to our listeners and the unique place it has in the public consciousness and important role it plays in the national debate.

“The intellectual ambition of the network and the thought-provoking, and often awe-inspiring, programmes we broadcast are more important now than ever.

“After being a commissioning editor at the network for several years, it will be a privilege to lead Radio 4 and the brilliant staff who, every day, make it the valued and much loved station it is.”

Bakaya joined the BBC in 1993 as a production trainee. He worked on Radio 4 arts programme Front Row before becoming editor of Radio 3’s Night Waves.

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He has also produced documentaries for both stations on subjects from the death penalty to Bruce Springsteen.

The BBC also announced today that Radio 5 Live controller Jonathan Wall is moving to become the first controller of BBC Sounds, the broadcaster’s audio app which launched last year.

The new role will see Wall take responsibility for developing the strategy for Sounds with an overview of the content being commissioned for it by the BBC’s radio, music and podcast teams.

Wall, who also heads up 5 Live Sports Extra, said: “After 21 wonderful years at 5 Live it is time for a fresh challenge.

“BBC Sounds, alongside iPlayer, will help make the BBC thrive and it’s a privilege to get the chance to lead so many talented people who want to make sure we reach as many listeners as possible with our brilliant radio, music and podcasts. I can’t wait to get started.”

Wall started his career at Radio Humberside before moving to BBC Sport, later becoming editor of 5 Live Sport.

He became deputy controller and commissioning editor at 5 Live in 2008 and controller five years later.

To replace Wall, 5 Live commissioning editor Richard Maddock will become acting controller of the station supported by managing editor Heidi Dawson.

The corporation will advertise for the permanent 5 Live controller role “in the near future”.

BBC director of radio and education James Purnell, who also announced the appointment of Lorna Clarke as the first controller of pop music, said: “With these appointments, we will have a team that works even more closely to continue to love our radio stations and grow BBC Sounds.

“Working together, BBC radio can make a difference – to the ideas we debate, the music we love, the way we understand each other.

“All three of the new controllers talked about how they will empower their new teams, and I look forward to working with them to maximise the creativity of everyone who works with us for the benefit of our millions of listeners.”

Picture: BBC

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