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Gloucestershire Business News

Big names quit BBC Radio Gloucestershire

Hugely popular names and faces from BBC Radio Gloucestershire are set to leave in the wake of a shake up of local radio and news by the corporation.

Headliner breakfast host Mark Cummings, Saturday Brunch presenters Faye Hatcher and evening host Anna King are among a group of journalists who will quit their roles amid the changes.

Last October, the BBC said it planned greater programme sharing on local radio after 2pm on weekdays and across weekends.

In a dramatic statement on his show this morning, host Mark Cummings told listeners of the difficulty he had faced in making a "gut-wrenching" decision to go.

And he added a stern warning that the BBC was risking an end to "the purest form of broadcasting".

BBC bosses plan to axe 48 jobs across England in local radio as it forces through a program to "modernise" the service.

Mr Cummings said: "After 40 years in radio, 30 in this amazing county of Gloucestershire and 18 with the privilege of doing this breakfast show I have decided to leave the industry.

"I decided not to apply for my job when we were all put into a redundancy scenario, but rather take this opportunity to move into a completely different life and leave the party a couple of years earlier than I had planned."

He added: "The thought of leaving you, the show and all these magical moments that we share is going to be an excrutiating wrench. Why? Because the relationship we have – and I really believe this – is the purest form of broadcasting that exists because we share every element of our lives in this amazing county together.

"Gloucestershire binds us together: we walk the same streets, attend the same events, scream from the same terraces. We care about the same things, we learn from each other and we share massive moments together.

"This unique relationship between the listener and presenter is something the BBC should invest in should sing about from the rooftops, as it is a BBC service that absolutely no one else offers.

"Local radio is a little bit about news, but mainly it's about a familiar voice who cares about the county and cares about you."

Mr Cummings added listeners were "stuck" with him until mid-July.

The BBC said: "Many of our presenters will continue to present on local radio at the end of this process in new presenter/producer roles, but we appreciate change like this is really difficult and we are supporting our teams closely.

"Our aim is to achieve a better balance between our local online and broadcast services at a time when millions of people increasingly turn to their mobile first for news and information.

"The changes see no reduction in funding or overall staffing levels across our 39 local bases in England."

Mark Owen, editor of Punchline-Gloucester.com, said: "This is bad news. Mark has been a great champion for business in Gloucestershire and I've valued working with him as his business briefer for the past twelve years.

"He's been the bedrock of the community, nobody else quizzes the politicians as Mark does and gives them a hard time. I also fear the nuances of this county could be lost – the community and business relationships built by Mark, you can't replace that instantly. Mark can pick up the phone and get people to respond. That's vital local journalism and on top of fresh cutbacks with the Citizen , it's not good for democracy and accountability."

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