Now BBC Radio 1’s playlist gatekeeper, Nigel Harding, is leaving the station…

Further sources have today verified MBW’s report of what’s being dubbed the ‘Apple crumble’ at BBC Radio 1: four key producers leaving the UK station to join ex-presenter Zane Lowe at the Cupertino giant.

One of those producers, James Bursey, is understood to have already left the Beeb and joined Lowe in Los Angeles.

Three more top producers – believed to include Natalie Lynch (Huw Stephens) and Kieran Yeates (BBC Introducing) – will leave after Radio 1’s Big Weekend event on May 23-24.

But Monday, May 25 will also see the Radio 1 tenure of another key exec at the station come to an end, MBW has learned: Nigel Harding.

Harding is regarded as one of two key figures that ultimately shape the station’s music policy, alongside Head Of Music George Ergatoudis.

“If you hear a song on pop radio anywhere in the UK, it’s probably because Nigel Harding decided to air it.”

The Guardian

Unlike his colleagues, though, Harding isn’t off to Apple: he has taken voluntary redundancy in order to launch his own freelance business.

MBW understands it’s second time lucky for Harding: he applied for redundancy last year, but the BBC turned him down.

Sources suggest that the exec, now working his notice, has already been courted by two UK major labels for freelance work.

In 2011, The Guardian placed Harding at No.4 on its Music Power 100, remarking: “If you hear a song on pop radio anywhere in the country, it’s probably because Radio 1’s Nigel Harding decided to air it.”

Two years later, Harding earned a place on GQ’s 100 Most Influential Men in Britain list.

One UK industry exec told MBW today: “Nigel’s team have made decisions on the Radio 1 playlist that have pissed us off over the years, and I’m sure it’s the same for other labels. But that’s his job, and you have to say he’s been very good at it: he’s played an instrumental role in breaking some very big artists and seems to pride himself on giving new acts career-changing exposure.

“Nigel’s opinionated, but he’s also upfront and unafraid to explain his decisions at length – even when he’s giving you bad news. That’s rare and commendable.”

Harding said in a Guardian interview last year:  “It’s frustrating when people say commercial radio can do what Radio 1 does. There’s little appreciation of the vast amount of music that we play that commercial radio would never ever touch.

“Many of the pop acts that are on commercial radio now are only there because we started the story.”

“Nigel’s opinionated, but he’s also unafraid to explain his decisions.”

MBW source

Harding leaves behind his post as Music Policy Executive at Radio 1 after nine years at the broadcaster. He joined from XFM in 2006 as a producer.

Prior to working in radio, he was on the other side of the industry fence, plugging records from the likes of Badly Drawn Boy and The Flaming Lips.

Combined with Zane Lowe plus the four producers headed to Apple, Harding’s departure means Radio 1 has lost at least six key staff members so far this year.

We can logically expect a new-look Radio 1 team to be formed under George Ergatoudis and Controller Ben Cooper on their return from Los Angeles.

Ergatoudis has just collected an International Music Person of the Year prize in Hollywood at the annual MusExpo event.

In reaction to MBW’s Apple/Radio 1 story yesterday, the BBC said in a statement: “Radio 1 is respected worldwide for making great programmes and is vital to the record industry for choosing the best new music and artists.

“We are proud to have a proven record of discovering and developing staff that are seen as the best in the business.”Music Business Worldwide

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