Breaking: BBC Radio 3’s new controller is….

Breaking: BBC Radio 3’s new controller is….


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2023

We’ll come to that in a minute.

The BBC has battened down hatches on the subject for the past six weeks while memos flew up and down about the optics of appointing another white male to the job.

They are about to announce Sam Jackson, former head of Classic FM and latterly Executive Vice-President of Global Classics & Jazz for Universal Music Group.

It’s a good choice.

Sam started out at Radio 3 and refused to apply the last time the job was going.

Now he will have a few weeks to clear eight years of detritus before setting about renwing a sense of purpose and internal morale.

UPDATE: The appointment was confirmed six minutes after went public.



  • Ben Weston says:

    Fantastic news.

  • Stephen Maddock says:

    A most excellent appointment.

  • Katie says:

    Oh dear, I hope he’s got rid of the Classic FM “soundbite” and self-indulgent idle prattle mentality. Always know when my other half has driven my car – I have to retune from CFM back to R3. Don’t know how he can stand incessant ads.

  • RPOirregular says:

    Sam Jackson – he who I was told by fellow players had accepted the job of CEO with the RPO a few years ago. What happened within a couple of days, after most of the players got to know, was that he had a change of mind and turned it down. Which was extremely fortunate for the RPO as they appointed James Williams who has moved them on several notches. So thanks Sam from the RPO and good luck with Radio 3 – not very different nowadays from your old job at Classic FM.

    • Ben Weston says:

      Yes that must have been an awful experience (I was interviewed for the job too), given that there were players on the selection panel, that the orchestra is self-governing and the chair is player. I mean the surprise must have been cataclysmic – players selecting their preferred candidate and then being so surprised. And it must have been so painful too, since it’s still being spun, inaccurately ten years later!

  • Unvaccinated says:

    News about as exciting as a loaf of stale bread

  • PS says:

    Your first day on the job you see a sticky note that says “Don’t touch this door. It makes noise.” What do you do?

  • Graham Parker says:

    Sam is an absolutely brilliant choice. Crazily smart, a creative mind and one of the nicest humans on this planet.

    He is ambitious and doesn’t suffer fools. He will be the shake up Radio 3 needs.

    Go Sam!

  • George Lobley says:

    This might be good news as he was the former CEO of Classic FM when it still had better more intelligent programming. Now Classic FM is full of endless hours of Smooth Classics replacing the Full Works in the evening. OK as background music but R3 is still very much a cut above this. Detractors of R3 should beware of what could happen. Worst scenario for me would be if it cut amount of classical music played on the station. It plays a very broad range of classical music at the moment. Long may this continue.

  • Carl says:

    The last time I was in the UK and put on Radio 3, there were two older middle-aged men mumbling on about their favorite Bruckner recordings for an hour. Hopefully the station acquires a little more pizzazz now.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    I have no horse in this race. I haven’t listed to either station in years.

    I am, however, enjoying the above-average polarisation of comments here.

  • David says:

    Let’s hope Radio3 now refocuses on classical music