Ben Cooper leaving the BBC after 8 years as Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Controller

Ben Cooper, the long-time Controller of two of the world’s most influential music-driven broadcast networks, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, has decided to leave the BBC, MBW understands.

Sources tell us that London-based Cooper, who is responsible for driving Radio 1’s digital strategy in addition to its terrestrial output, is stepping down from his London-based position after eight years in the role.

Under Cooper’s watch, BBC Radio 1’s YouTube and Vevo channel has grown to attract 15m weekly views, while Radio 1 and 1Xtra share a combined social media following of 10m across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

These figures have added to BBC Radio 1’s own UK weekly reach which, according to BBC figures, stood at 10.56m in Q2 when all listeners aged 10-plus were taken into account. On this basis, BBC Radio 1Xtra counted 1.17m weekly listeners in the period.

The departure of Cooper – also Controller of the BBC Asian Network – comes after a spate of high-level executive departures from BBC Radio 1 / 1Xtra towards digital services in recent years. (Case in point: the likes of Zane Lowe, George Ergatoudis, Charlie Sloth and Austin Daboh, plus a handful of ex-BBC producers, now all work for Apple Music / Beats 1.)

Earlier this year, Cooper was thought to be one of a number of front-runners for the new Pop Music Controller position at BBC Radio – a role with ultimate responsibility for the music strategy of Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 6 Music and the Asian Network.

However, that gig was instead awarded to respected BBC figure Lorna Clarke, who took almost 30 years of broadcast experience into the position when she officially began in September.

Cooper, who had prior experience at Capital Radio and BBC Radio 1, was named Deputy Controller of Radio 1 and 1Xtra in 2009. He was then named Controller of both stations in October 2011.Music Business Worldwide

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