The BBC has defended its decision (Picture: In Pictures via Getty Images)
Bill Rennells, 92, has responded after his former bosses made the ‘cruel’ decision to cancel the Harmony Night call-in programme which let listeners in Berkshire, Kent and Oxford request their favourite songs.
The former Radio 2 presenter told The Sun: ‘So many adjectives have been used for the destruction of our beautiful Harmony Night and the league leader of those is “cruel”.
‘Our last night was so emotional. It is ludicrous that they destroyed us when the programme was at the height of its strength and popularity.’
Before the Beeb finalised its decision, which it insisted is not due to budget cuts, Dilys Bound – who created the petition – described the show as ‘a lifeline’.
She added: ‘Life would be much lonelier for many listeners.’
Bill Rennells first joined the BBC in 1970, and then Radio 2 eight years later (Picture:Jeremy Grayson/Radio Times/Getty Images)
Plenty agreed, describing the decision as ‘heartbreaking’ and ’emotional’.
In response to the backlash, the BBC has praised Bill for his ‘commitment, time and energy’, but insisted the show was axed due to ‘audience habits’.
A spokesman told the outlet: ‘We are grateful for the commitment, time and energy that Bill put into the presentation and production of Harmony Night and the years he worked as a sports reporter and commentator at BBC Radio Oxford.
He has blasted the decision to axe his show (Picture: BBC)
‘We have consistently said that we are committed to providing a strong, creative, local radio service for listeners across England and we have maintained all 39 Local Radio Stations.
‘The budget for BBC Local services has not been cut, but audience habits are changing, and licence fee payers want more content available to them when they want it.
‘So we have invested in providing more local digital news and we have increased the local content available on BBC Sounds.’
Bill started his BBC career as a news producer at Radio Oxford in 1970, before joining Radio 2 eight years later, initially on the Thursday night graveyard slot as well as fronting Music From The Movies.
By early 1984, he was hosting the early morning programme, and by the end of the year he took over late night show Nightride, which started a 14-year run until 1993.
He rejoined Radio Oxford in 2011.
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