Simon Bates to leave Classic FM for Smooth Radio

Former Radio 1 DJ, at Classic FM for 13 years, will host national breakfast show when regional stations are merged

Simon Bates
Simon Bates: 'I have had a very enjoyable and happy time at Classic FM.' Photograph: Butterton/PA

The veteran DJ Simon Bates is leaving Classic FM after 13 years to present Smooth Radio's new national breakfast show.

Bates has been at Classic FM since 1997, and recently moved to a mid-morning slot after seven years as a breakfast presenter. Between 1997 and 2003 he also worked for London's LBC.

The former BBC Radio 1 DJ, famous for reading tear-jerking listeners' letters in his Our Tune slot, joins Smooth Radio on 4 January.

He will take the reins of a new networked breakfast show, replacing local programming across a number of regional stations.

Smooth Radio is turning its five regional stations into a single national broadcaster, based in Manchester, with the loss of up to 60 jobs. The move begins with a phased relaunch from 4 October.

"I have had a very enjoyable and happy time at Classic FM and I leave with great affection for the station and people who work there and all at Global [Radio]," said Bates. "I am now very much looking forward to joining the new national Smooth Radio."

Bates will lead the breakfast show from 6am to 10am in a new Smooth Radio line-up that includes several other former Radio 1 DJs. Lynn Parsons will cover the interim few months before he is able to join Smooth Radio.

The new national service will see Mark Goodier present mid-morning from 10pm to 1pm, followed by Dave Lincoln from 1pm to 4pm, with Carlos takinig the drivetime slot from 4pm to 8pm and Andy Peebles presenting the weekday evening show and Saturday Night Soul Train.

"We are delighted that Simon Bates will be joining the station in the New Year. He was part of our audience's youth and his warm style of broadcasting will no doubt be a great draw for listeners," said John Simons, the group programme director at Smooth's parent company GMG Radio, part of the group that publishes MediaGuardian.co.uk.

Global Radio holds the exclusive contract to sell national airtime for the Smooth network on behalf of GMG Radio.

GMG Radio announced in June that its Smooth brand was to become a national station. Smooth will broadcast across the UK on digital radio, Sky, Freeview and Freesat and on its five regional FM services in north-west England, north-east England, London, the West Midlands and the East Midlands.

The switch was made possible by regulatory changes ushered in by the recent Digital Economy Act. Global Radio is halving the number of its Heart regional stations in a similar move.

The Smooth station in Glasgow will continue to carry local programming in key slots for seven hours a day.

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Comments in chronological order (Total 37 comments)

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  • udaskyshadow

    17 August 2010 12:52PM

    OK so now we're actually getting a new national station with some names to recognise and go up against the likes of R1 and R2, etc. Bates certainly fits the profile of Smooth and has a great pedigree. However, I thought this was a Manchester-based station. Parsons, Goodier and Bates are all London-based and are as unlikely to move to Manchester as a FiveLive executive.

  • ScottF

    17 August 2010 1:16PM

    Parsons is only temporary cover. Bates & Goodier are London based, the rest Manchester. Makes sense to run 2 London shows back to back in terms of producers, etc

  • Bluebaby

    17 August 2010 1:17PM

    I think the Bates-Meister was a bit hacked off to lose the 8-9 breakfast slot on Classic FM. It's noticeable that the music on breakfast has improved since Bates started at 9am, much less music from films being passed off as classical music.

  • ado16

    17 August 2010 1:28PM

    It would have been interesting if we had Facebook and it's protest power back when Henry Kelly got the boot at "Classic" whether Bates would still have got the job.

    Bates is one extremely overrated presenter. I've heard first hand from people who used to work with him that he's not the most co-operative colleague either. Still, perhaps he's mellowed by now, who knows.

  • londonmark23

    17 August 2010 1:46PM

    Paul O'Grady went back to ITV, so Henry Kelly could easily go back to Classic on weekday mornings. The station has changed owners since he was "given the boot".

    GMG seem to be trying to re-assemble the R1 schedule from the 1980s. I wonder if DLT will be doing Saturday & Sunday mid-mornings soon?

  • togmore

    17 August 2010 2:09PM

    with Carlos takinig the drivetime slot

    "[T]akinig"?

    This is a well-written article, but how did your spell checker not pick this up?

  • powerfulfriends

    17 August 2010 2:25PM

    OMG, who decided this? Is this really the big national name to take a new national station forward? An old fart who had his day in the sun many years ago and seems to have landed a big cheque to end his days.

  • Moosed

    17 August 2010 2:26PM

    Simon Bates ? Mark Goodier ?

    Smooth FM ?

    You did realise that those Smashey and Nicey characters were meant to be a joke didn't you ?

  • tib23

    17 August 2010 3:44PM

    The burning question which no-one has addressed is, what about Dave "hairy cornflake" Lee Travis?

    I hope there is a home for him at Smooth FM too.

  • illyria

    17 August 2010 4:47PM

    SO glad to be rid of his boorish DJ style on classic. That movie show he did on Classic (where he pontificates on films - like we care what Bates thinks) almost drove me to violence.

  • powerfulfriends

    17 August 2010 5:05PM

    Loved the post from 1cupidstunt. Best so far.

    This decision is so bad even The Guardian themselves are taking the piss out of the announcement in their own Monkey section. This is one station I will be avoiding and so too will so many others. The reason Bates was on Classic is because no other radio station of note wanted him. He was left to go with talk radio and Classic fm. Why do the bods at smooth think his name will attract people to a NEW radio station. It beggers belief.

    If they bring back the Golden Hour and Our Tune it really will be the end. I have no objection to old names but the good ones have reinvented themselves. Bates, Blackburn and others, sadly have not.

    R2 will just love this and that is where I will stay.

  • EngScot

    17 August 2010 5:05PM

    I always remembered Bates being smug, but that photo should be posted onto Wikipedia under the searches associated with and including the word (and letters) "smug"

    I'm going to phone in everyday, requesting "Relax" by Frankie goes to Hollywood, that will make him angry (and less smug)

  • EngScot

    17 August 2010 5:08PM

    Please please please please Smooth FM give him the moniker "master"

    It's what he deserves

  • londonmark23

    17 August 2010 6:24PM

    @ powerfulfriends

    To be fair to Blackburn, he is never short of work. He is on Radio 2 again for 4 hours on Bank Holiday Monday, as well as his regular Smooth, BBC London and various other local radio shows.

    As for Radio 2 loving it, well maybe, but Evans hasn't exactly got off to a roaring start in the ratings (his audience went down last quarter) . If Bates keeps the chatter to a minimum it may be a welcome relief from nonsense such as kids phoning in telling us what they did for the first time yesterday (as if anyone apart from their parents is really interested).

  • Daveanon

    18 August 2010 9:35AM

    Small point, but one worth making I think - Smooth is not a "new national" station. GMG radio are simply networking the output into the areas where they have existing regional FM licences and simulcasting on DAB in these areas too. Last I heard they'd said they intended to apply for a space on the national DAB multiplex, but I'm not aware this is confirmed.

    This is about cost saving - only needing one broadcasting studio (or maybe two to accomodate the London based presenters) and cutting jobs in production, news & sales locally. It also reduces opportunities for local businesses to advertise or run promotions on a station in their area, and for that I struggle to see a benefit.

    And 1cupidstunt - that's brilliant. Thank you.

  • EngScot

    18 August 2010 10:01AM

    1CupidStunt

    Sorry, I though Mike Read and Simon Bates were the same person - are they both great mates with Cliff Richard (and regular tennis partners on the roadshows?)

  • TheEqualizer

    18 August 2010 11:27AM

    Maybe, not a bad idea to use Simon Bates as breakfast show host on the national Smooth station, but I hope that I can still hear the North-East Smooth station on my DAB radio, as I think Tom Davis does a great breakfast show at present, he's very witty and should be offered a position on the national Smooth service, even if it doesn't happen to be the breakfast show.

    But, why does the new network have to be supported by a mainly London based, former Radio 1 DJ set-up?? Give some of the local Smooth presenters, inc. as mentioned, Tom Davis, a shot a the national network.

  • londonmark23

    18 August 2010 11:38AM

    @daveanon

    Last I heard they'd said they intended to apply for a space on the national DAB multiplex, but I'm not aware this is confirmed.

    The station is now broadcasting on the national DAB multiplex Digital One - until 4th October it is the London station.

    It also reduces opportunities for local businesses to advertise or run promotions on a station in their area, and for that I struggle to see a benefit.

    The station will continue to be broadcast on regional DAB multiplexes as well as on FM and Digital One. The output on the regional platforms will continue to have regional advertising. The regional versions of Smooth will also have regional travel and what's on (and possibly local news - this is unclear). Apart from this the programming will be national across England, so the Simon Bates breakfast show will go out on all platforms in England.

    The separate breakfast & drive shows on 105.2FM in Glasgow will remain (simulcast on the Glasgow & Edinburgh DAB multiplexes).

  • scy90uk

    18 August 2010 9:19PM

    @TheEqualizer - saddened to hear about Tom Davis... he's my guilty pleasure on the way to work on a morning.

  • brianjw

    19 August 2010 1:59PM

    another R1 refugee, sorry but since Jazz, FM became Smooth Radio it has become more and more diluted.

    Its charm is because was, it covers the uk in a style that is slightly different for the regions.

    Just regurgitating old DJs from R1, sorry Tony & Andy, (at least Tony & Andy are a good fit for Smooth) but yet another old DJ who wasnt that good to launch a "National" radio set up sorry but it shows no real thinking

    I for one will delete Smooth from my radio once Mr Bates is on

  • brianjw

    19 August 2010 2:02PM

    Just a addition comment, the current thinking must be from London, as its such a poor strategy, maybe they would like to dig up some dead DJs that would be as inspiring!

  • NickHennegan

    20 August 2010 12:21PM

    Yeah, has everybody missed the point that OFCOM's decisions last year have perhaps sounded the death knell for local broadcasting? I like Smooth (and Carlos) but who needs another national radio station, apart from shareholders? Keep it local, I say!

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