Radio 2’s Vernon Kay reveals he often bumps into Ken Bruce on his way to work after taking over the iconic DJ’s show and losing 1.3 million listeners
Vernon Kay has revealed how he often bumps into pastor Ken Bruce on his way to work after taking over the DJ’s BBC Radio 2 show earlier this year.
The former Family Fortunes host, 49, proved there were no hard feelings between the pair and said they regularly enjoy catching up on the trip.
Ken, 72, moved to commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio in March after hosting the same BBC show since 1986 – with Vernon announced as his replacement two months later.
Vernon told The Radio times: ‘We take the same train every morning! He gets on a few stops away, but we always bump into each other, say hello and have a chat.’
Discussing the big shoes he had to fill, Vernon said, “Ken has done it for 31 years by mid-morning, but in 31 years I’ll be 80′.
No hard feelings: Vernon Kay, 49, has revealed how he often bumps into pastor Ken Bruce, 72, on his way to work after taking over the DJ’s BBC Radio 2 show earlier this year (Vernon pictured in the Radio 2 studio)
New job: Ken moved to commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio (pictured) in March after hosting the same BBC show since 1986 – with Vernon announced as his replacement two months later
‘There’s no way I’m sitting at this desk! It is a precious lock that deserves the utmost respect. It’s not about me or Ken, it’s about the listener.’
Body of the Radio Industry Rajar have reported how Vernon has lost 1.3 million listeners since taking over the morning show, with an average of 6.9 million listeners. With figures from June to September 2023.
Meanwhile, in the same period on Greatest Hits, Ken has increased his new show’s audience by 800,000 to 3.7 million.
He previously said he left the BBC after three decades in the same way because it was “time for a change” and it felt “like the natural culmination of some planning I’ve been doing.”
But now Ken has revealed he decided to jump ship before he started becoming ‘bitter and entrenched’, saying: ‘It took a long time and I thought I was doing the same thing every day.
“There was a point of saying that I can’t be as excited about all the new music I have to play as I am about the old music. And I didn’t want to get on stage where I was bad-mouthing (or pretending to like) some of the music.”
The father-of-six explains: “I definitely thought I had something more to offer. I didn’t want to go backwards for the next three or four years and still be doing the same show, but everyone around me was getting younger and thinking, “Am I the old guy in the corner here?”
“I was the kid at the station and almost overnight I became the veteran, and I didn’t want to become the old grump in the corner saying ‘things aren’t what they used to be,’ or (to ) a newcomer. idea of saying, “No, we tried that, it didn’t work,” which does happen. I just felt like I was going to become even more bitter and deeper.”
Chat: The former Family Fortunes host proved there were no hard feelings between the pair and said they regularly enjoy catching up on the trip
Rocky Waters: Radio Industry’s Rajar has reported that Vernon has lost 1.3 million listeners since taking over Ken’s morning show, with an average of 6.9 million listeners. With figures from June to September 2023 (Ken Bruce in the photo)
Bruce said the move to Greatest Hits Radio had given him a new lease on life, stressing: ‘I feel like it’s rejuvenated me to a degree. I loved working for the BBC. I think it is a great institution. But maybe over the last few years I can’t be blamed for just trying something different.”
On Gyles Brandreth’s podcast series Rosebud, Ken said he never sees himself retiring and plans to continue broadcasting until he is physically unable to perform or is laid off.
Hot off the press: Read Vernon’s full interview in Radio Times now
His departure from the BBC ended on a somewhat sour note after he was asked to leave before the end of his contract, reportedly because bosses feared he would use his time on air as ‘free advertising’ for his new rival show.
He said he found the decision “disappointing,” adding, “I was like, ‘Come on, you can trust me, I’m not going to do a Dave Lee Travis (and) start badmouthing everyone,’ because I’m having a good time had at the BBC. So it was all a bit… unnecessary. It is completely within the BBC’s right to ask me to leave a little early. But because of those seventeen days it seems like a waste.’
Travis left Radio 1 while on air in 1993 and made critical comments about changes to the station.
But Bruce harbors no lingering ill feelings towards his old employer, who calls the BBC ‘the best broadcaster in the world’.
His program on Greatest Hits Radio, owned by media giant Bauer, runs weekdays from 10am to 1pm and includes the PopMaster quiz he created for his Radio 2 show. It was also recently adapted for TV by Channel 4.