Mike Harding on Radio 2

Mike Harding plays my (almost) weekly dose of folk and acoustic music. As with Bob Harris, his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the music and the musicians is a wonder to behold.

Last week he spoke with Cathy Jordan, a lovely Irish singer who has taken a mere 20 years to complete the album All the Way Home. The fantastic Eddi Reader joins her on the track Eileen McMahon, just one of several traditional songs.

I was lucky enough to see Eddi Reader in concert last year at what has become my favourite venue, Union Chapel, Islington.

Mike’s next programme, tomorrow, Wednesday evening, features Seth Lakeman in concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra. I’m a big fan of his music too, and have also seen him in concert several times over the last few years.

Actually, I’m torn. I would like Mike Harding to play more tracks by my favourite singers; but then, it’s lovely hearing people, such as the aforementioned Cathy Jordan, who are new to me.

I think he introduced me to the Unthanks, who are currently on my List Of People To See In Concert.

So, big hat-tip to Mike Harding, Radio 2, every Wednesday at 7pm.

BBC – BBC Radio 2 Programmes – Mike Harding.

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54 thoughts on “Mike Harding on Radio 2

  1. Mike Harding and Ricky Ross from Another Country Radio Scotland are my two favourite radio music programmes and have provide me with so many new people to listen to but am disappointed that it doesn’t seem possible to get a list of the artists playing on the current Mike Harding show and trying to catch the names as Mike introduces them is not always easy.

  2. I have just spent an hour putting up shelves accompanied by Mike and Paddy on i player when the end of the programme came I couldn’t believe the hour had past-what a wonderful programme, thank you Mike for another fantastic hour of music.

  3. Oh dear. The new ad for the programme on the Cambridge Folk Festival just reinforces the message from the recent Radio 2 Folk Awards that ‘Folk is for oldies, by oldies’. Come on BBC start pushing the new young folk stars more, please.

  4. Greedy Folkers!

    I was at the Propaganda records stall at Cambridge Folk Festival yesterday, I was stood next to the great Mike Harding buying exactly the same two CDs. He paid twenty GBPs, I was charged 24! Even in Folk circles, we have folk more privileged than the majority. So much for the folk tradition of standing up for the common man!

  5. Is it true Mike Harding no longer works for the BBC? If true (saw it in the Manchester Evening News tonight) what’s the story? Who will be taking the show over and what direction will it take? And good luck, Mike, wherever you go and whatever you do!

      • Why on earth are the BBC getting rid of Mike just as folk takes off in such a big way. Madness! He’s a fantastic ambassador for folk. Don’t let him go — a change of heart would be wonderful. Please?

  6. Wednesday evenings will never be the same…Mike has brought the Folk on 2 programme to an increased audience and has presented the show with good-humoured enthusiasm, knowledge and sheer professionalism for 15 years. His respect for the talents of the performers and encouragement to younger new-comers is unbounded. It will be an extremely hard act to follow – I seriously doubt if the new presenter will be up to the job.

  7. A very sad day for Mike Harding. Why has this decision been taken for a show that is so popular and brilliant. PLEASE BBC reconsider…This decision is a mistake.

  8. A 15 year career on BBC 2, and many more years as a leading exponent of folk music in this country bringing some of the best traditional and contemporary folk music to the great British public, Mike Harding is sacked unceremoniously. Another hatchet job by another ageist Controller without any sense of decorum or respect, whatsoever.

    But let me get this right:

    Bob Shennan, the Controller for BBC 2 Radio led the way in BBC Sport from 1987 to 2000. Then, in 2000 he goes off to work as Controller of 5 Live, launching 5 Live Sports Extra. Oh, but don’t forget Bob reached out to an audience of just under 7 mill.

    In late 2004, Bob had managerial responsibility for BBC Asian Network. Left the BBC in 2008 for Channel Four Radio. Came back in 2009 to Control Radio 2 and 6 (which almost disappeared), introducing Paul O’Grady, Alan Carr, and Zoe Ball to Radio 2 in early 2009.

    Apart from hiring Zoe Ball and now Mark Radcliffe, that’s quite a career in music programming, Bob!

    Bob is also chairman of the Radio Academy. For all those few who don’t know this, the Radio Academy is the charity dedicated to “the encouragement, recognition and promotion of excellence in UK broadcasting and audio production”.

    Blimey, what a sad state of affairs, hey Britain!? At £200,000 + per annum maybe Bob needs remedial lessons in leadership management, or at the very least an evening class in HR etiquette.

  9. I was going to add my few words to this column but I don’t think I can come anywhere near the comments of Fred, (see 11.32am). Suffice to say Mike will be sorely missed and Mr Shennan has made a huge mistake!

  10. Sick, fed up and stunned ! I’ve followed Mike Harding since I first saw him at a folk club in Barnsley in 1970. He is a National Icon and should be treasured. Shame on the prat at the BBC and whilst I admire Mark Radcliffe he is no substitute for Mrs ‘Ardins Kid !

  11. Pingback: Mike Harding ‘leaves’ Radio 2 | Radio Top Soup

  12. I hear the slot is going to Mark Radcliffe. Harding’s programme is really one of the best in the week, in fact my favourite. I have not enjoyed Mr Radcliffe’s efforts in the past and will not be listening on Wednesday evening’s anymore.

  13. Life moves on folks. We can’t expect to freeze Radio 2 forever. Time for a younger presenter. No-one is denying all that Mike H contributed, but he was in a bit of a rut (and played too much country and blues music on what was supposedly a folk programme). I have commented on here before about folk being presented as ‘for oldies’ on Radio 2, hopefully Mark R (a recognised folky who did a good job at the Radio 2 Folk Awards) will attract more younger listeners. 🙂

    • Hey Jim. First and foremost. Someone dedicates as much as Mike Harding has in this country to folk music you don’t just sack him for a younger DJ. That is dis, that is the ultimate in disrespect. And by the way of pigeon holing anon, and not to be a genre busting dude, blues and country, especially country can very well fall under the umbrella of folk music (just so you know!). And by the way Mark, who I regard highly, don’t get me wrong, is 54 years old. Now that is a generation that feels pretty darn ageless, considering what we (yes, myself included) have overseen as well as lived through in the evolution of popular trad and contemporary music over the years. But it ain’t no spring chicken. So hence, thanks for the compliment that we 50-somethings can draw “younger listeners”. Fanstastic! And I’ve never thought of folk as for oldie’s, never ever. Even when I was loving it in my teens, 20’s and later; here, there, or BBC 2.

  14. Yet again we see just how biased the BBC is against sections of our society. If you’re a lover of Folk, Blues and Country then forget the BBC we are a group of people who don’t fit into their demographic. If you happen to like Mike’s mix of music then Shennan’s prodigy Radcliffe is going to be a disappointment. I know I and many others will be looking for other things to listen to. And to Jim Clutter why should older people people give way to younger? Surely it’s listeners they want not just young listeners, and he’s on Radio 2 for goodness sake not Radio 1
    ?

  15. The show’s been stuck in a rut for years with Mike playing the same select group of favourite artists week after week, also every average performance or album being described as brilliant. To much Blues and Country material played, I don’t here Bob Harris or Paul Jones playing folk music on their shows.

  16. I don’t know about Paul Jones, but I do know Bob Harris plays folk music from time to time. And as for playing music not strictly ‘folk’ in a ‘folk, roots and acoustic’ show, well, personally I like to see the edges blurred: it’s a good way to hear new music. I think what has irked most people in this instance is the manner of Mike Harding’s departure. Apparently, the call came out of the blue: he’d been given no feedback from Radio 2 bosses over the years. I’m sure he would have welcomed the opportunity to ‘tweak’ his programme, to evolve, to introduce new features maybe, or to broadcast live. Anything to avoid, as you say, being stuck in a rut. Which, if that’s a big concern at Radio 2, then let’s get rid of Ken Bruce and Steve Wright and Alex Lester too. Thanks for reading my little blog and for commenting.

  17. I am appalled at the way Mike Harding was told that he was being axed. After 15 year of loyal service to the Beeb it would have been courteous at least to bring him in and explain their reasoning as to why they wanted him to go. I think he has done a great job and will be sorely missed. I can’t say I enjoy listening to Mark Radcliffe either and I certainly can’t see him filling the shoes that Mike Harding will leave – because they were very big ones indeed. He really did deserve more respect from the BBC who are supposed to cater for the public, well this person is truly disappointed in the way they have gone about dismissing this great entertainer.

  18. Is this another hole the Beeb are trying to squeeze Mark Radcliffe in to. I’ve never liked Radcliffe’s vague ramblings and I had no idea he was so versed in the British folk scene. The one quality that stands Mike apart from other R2 presenters is his knowledge of his subject. He knows the scene, the groups and most importantly the folk people. So wrong!

  19. What are the BBC playing at? No way to treat Mike after years of success, no way to treat his audience and no way to treat folk music as a whole. I can only hope someone else sets him up in a rival slot – I would switch straight away…

    Planet Rock provide radio for the fans of that genre – someone should do the same for those of us who like folk as well (and Mike Harding!) – set your mandolins to stun!

    • Just tuning in now after a hiatus of a month or more and have come to understand from your blogs that Mike Harding has been sacked! I have listened to Mike from New York City steaming on the internet for a few years and will miss him terribly. He seemed the embodiment of the folk and root scene, bringing to my attention many great folk artists about whom I would never have otherwise heard. Mike should come to New York City and reinvigorate the folk scene here bringing his great knowledge of the British, Scottish and Irish artists with him!

  20. The fact he’s going is dismaying and the way it was done is disgusting. Mike’s shows are a source of inspiration and discovery, as are the Folk Awards. He plays a superb range of music within the fascinating folk and acoustic genre, keeping things flexible and open-minded but without too much blurring of boundaries – just as Bob Harris, Paul Jones and Jamie McCullum do in their respective “specialty” shows. These four presenters and their programmes are indispensible to active and discerning listeners of all ages. I dread the BBC’s coverage of all this fantastic and fascinating music becoming indistinguishable from wall-to-wall mainstream pop. People like Mike should be treasured and rewarded for their work and dedication.

  21. Well done BBC, Just when you need to be getting your listeners/viewers onside, you make this mad and ill advised decission. Mike Harding’s show is a highlight of your present line up. I’ve been enjoying it now for about 3 years.

    Now you need to do the honourable thing. Admit you have made a mistake, apologise to Mike Harding and give him a 5 year contract.

    if you don’t, a few freinds and myself will be following Mike to whomever is lucky enough to secure his services and for what will no doubt, be a longer programme than the, way too short hour a week he gets at the moment.

  22. I agree. To axe someone of the calibre of Mike Harding and replace him with Mark Radcliffe is ludicrous, typical of the BBC. Have they never heard of the old saying “If it aint broken don’t mend it”

    I for one will not be listening to Mark Radcliffe, his voice grates on the ear, not like the mellow tones of Mike Harding.

    Good luck Mike

    Liz Peace

  23. Seems to me that BBC is in desperate need of a good HR department:
    Rule 1. Spot the paedo’s and sort them out (Saville et al).
    Rule 2: Inform any changes to the presenters in the first instance (not via the public domain as with Mike and so many others recently)
    Rule 3: Do not get rid of the good ones that really know what they are talking about (Radcliffe and Maconey from Radio 2 to Radio 6 and now Mike Harding gets the chop).

    Why not ask your listeners what they want … after all we pay your salaries.
    Keep Mike Harding… no one has done more for this genre … just look at the listening figures!
    ### fed up with crass management at the BBC #####

    • Mike Harding deserved better than this. Radio 2 show the public you LISTEN you can redeem yourself by reversing the appalling decision to sack Mike. Be big, be bold and reinstate Mike.

  24. Radio 2 is in danger of making a big mistake here, if it tries to modernise Folk on 2 it will lose a loyal following. What next axe Paul Jones (do they have a death wish?) If they try and modernise the Rhythm and Blues show – get real Rhythm and Blues Radio 2 style – is totally different to the modern rubbish on Radio 1 going under the title of Rhythm and Blues. Keep the stations distinct.

  25. Mmm mm err, Ah I must be listening to Mark Radcliffe, Now I like Mark and appreciate his phenominal music knowledge,but he is no match for Mike Hardin. Mike is not just a folk music presenter,he is FOLK MUSIC. He lives and beaths it and we should not let his departure pass without protest. Come on BBC,you must reconsider this outrageous dictat. Is Mark cheaper.or threatening to leave,or under employed ? Let us know the real reason why you are letting go the authentic voice of folk music,because Mike was ,is ,and should continue to be the flag bearer of the best of folk.We must keep him.

  26. I have been listening to Mike Harding’s show for many years and, in fact, he introduced me to the Folk genre. Mike has always delivered shows of the highest quality, bringing us the best of both the old and new. Mike’s interviews with the artists are always interesting and engaging.

    It looks like we are about to lose the best show on national radio and the reasons given for the change are weak. Like many of the previous comments I too would like Mike’s show to stay on the air. Mike has done so much to promote the Folk genre and I am sure that many listeners like me will sorely miss his weekly radio show. I look forward to having Mike back on the radio, web or TV at the earliest opportunity.

    If the decision to replace Mike’s show with Mark Radcliffe does go ahead then we should wish Mark well. I am sure Mike will wish Mark well with his usual generousity of spirit, even though he is entitled to feel gutted by this decision.

  27. You really do need to start paying attention to the listening audience Radio 2; what a really stupid decision to get rid of a legend in the world of folk music. Mike Harding will be sorely missed and the number of listeners who tune in when he’s gone will reflect this – I for one will not be tuning in to whoever replaces him.

  28. Getting rid of Mike is an apalling decision, Mike is the only presenter that can do this show. His knowledge of the genre is second to none and his show is the best thing on Radio 2, A while ago you got rid of Mark and Stuart’s show to 6 music and that was a real shame as it was superb, Now this ! what the hell are you thinking of. Are you trying to get rid of your listeners? because, believe me, you’re going the right way. It would seem that in all the years since that last big ageist axe you have learned nothing. If you have any sense you’ll get Mike back as soon as you can.

  29. Good, gald to see the back of him. One fewer ranting Ramblers who think the countryside is exclusively for their own use. Now I can listen to the programme again

  30. Listened to Mark Radcliffe out of devotion to Radio 2 and before I discovered Mike Harding new online programme (http://www.mikehardingfolkshow.com/) – excellent. Yes, his voice can grate – I suppose it is an acquired taste, but what disturbed was too much talking by Mr Radcliffe. It is music programme, so play music.

  31. MR sounds like Bruce Forsyth on a stutteringly bad day. Light on knowledge,loves the sound of his own voice – doesn’t bring a lot to the party. I’m out

  32. What a sad state of affairs.When I was a kid I used to take clocks apart to find out how they worked. I never managed to properly put them back together again.Why has this programme been dismantled and rebuilt in such a clumsy andsenseless manner?I leave working clocks alone now. I’m also turning my back on Wednesday night folk on bbc2.

  33. Staggering. What other organisation could take a world leading product and bin it with so little ceremony. Mike’s show was the best of the week for me. I find his “replacement” smug and too keen to listen to his own voice. Ok in it’s place but not on a R2 folk show. What were you thinking?!

    • Can’t say MR does a lot for me either. I always have recorded the folk programme and played it back later but since MR’s appearance I have only played the first programme and I didn’t think much of that. I’m going to watch the folk awards tonight
      on the red button (Ch 301) and see MR in the flesh but if he waffles too much he’s for the chop!. Thankfully Mike Harding online every Sunday is a lifesaver. BBC you should be ashamed of yourselves!!

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