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For the New Zealand musician see Matthew Bannister (musician)

Richard Matthew Bannister (born 16 March 1957) is a British radio administrator and broadcaster. After attending King Edward VII School (Sheffield), he graduated in law at the University of Nottingham in 1978, and joined BBC Radio Nottingham as a Station Assistant and subsequently the presenter of its speech-based breakfast show, Morning Report. It was here that he first met Trevor Dann, whom he subsequently worked with at BBC Radio 1.

He first worked for Radio 1 as a presenter of its news programme Newsbeat between 1983 and 1986 and subsequently as co-presenter with Anna Raeburn of Capital Radio's The Way It Is. He first established himself as a 'name' in the radio industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s as controller of GLR (Greater London Radio), the BBC's local radio station for London. Here he worked for the first time with Chris Evans, who was pioneering many of the ideas which would later win him greater success and much controversy at Radio 1, and also employed a number of the more musically credible DJs from Radio 1's past, such as Annie Nightingale, Tommy Vance, Janice Long and Johnnie Walker.

In 1993 Bannister was chosen as the new controller for BBC Radio 1, replacing Johnny Beerling who had worked at the station since its inception in 1967. The station was hugely popular, but some of its DJs, producers and other staff had been working there for many years, and it was felt that younger listeners were not being sufficiently catered for.[1] Between 1993 and 1995 many older DJs departed, including Dave Lee Travis, Simon Bates, Alan Freeman, Bob Harris, Adrian Juste, Johnnie Walker, Steve Wright, Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes. Although audiences declined dramatically, a new wave of DJs, including specialists such as Steve Lamacq (indie rock), Tim Westwood (hip-hop), Chris Goldfinger (ragga/dancehall) and Trevor Nelson (R&B), emerged and became highly popular with a new generation, who were now catered for in a way they had not been previously. However many listeners were as a result less catered for, (especially as Radio 2 catered for somewhat older listeners on the whole) and these people often wished for a "Radio 1 and a half". Other Bannister signings including Emma Freud and Danny Baker proved less popular and were soon dropped from the schedules.

By 1995 the Britpop explosion had proved the success of Bannister's strategy; the bands he had championed a year or two earlier, when they were comparatively obscure and marginal, were now part of the mainstream, and Radio 1 was booming again. Chris Evans, who had become a hugely popular national figure as breakfast DJ, was the figurehead of this boom, but eventually things went sour; by late 1996 Evans' show contained more criticisms of BBC executives than actual music, and in January 1997 Evans resigned after Bannister refused to allow him to waive his Friday show, in order to concentrate on his TV show TFI Friday. After Mark Radcliffe and Marc 'Lard' Riley had an unsuccessful stint on the breakfast show, the team of Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball were hosting the breakfast show when Bannister left Radio 1 in 1998 (Ball would subsequently host the show on her own).

In the autumn of 1996 Bannister was appointed Director of Radio, a post which gave him overall responsibility over all the national BBC radio networks other than Five Live. He remained controller of Radio 1 alongside this until March 1998, when he was succeeded by Andy Parfitt.[2] In October 2000 Matthew Bannister resigned from the BBC. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, notably for The Times. For much of 2007 he hosted the Morning Show on Radio Five Live in place of Victoria Derbyshire, who was on Maternity Leave. He also presents a programme on Radio 4 called Last Word, which he has presented since 2005. He also sits in for Jeremy Vine on his lunchtime Radio 2 show.

Bannister currently hosts Outlook on the BBC World Service.[1] He is also a Fellow of The Radio Academy [3].

Personal life

Matthew was married to the late Shelagh Macleod, Senior Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs at EMI records.


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  2. ^ Bannister's time as controller of Radio 1 is documented in Simon Garfield's book The Nation's Favourite
  3. ^ The Radio Academy "Fellows"

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