Following a chequered early career as a dustbin man, bus conductor and member of a skiffle band, Harding has gone on to be an incredibly influencial figure in the folk music scene. His Radio 2 folk show has been a staple of the BBC airwaves for the past 15 years, and he has been the presenter for Radio 2’s annual folk awards since their inception in 2000.
Reminiscent of the axing of Mary Ann Kennedy’s Global Gathering radio show earlier this year, fans and musicians have reacted angrily to the news of his departure, once again blaming BBC controllers for their lack of audience understanding. Folk singer Emily Portman, of whom Harding has long been a vocal advocate, said she was “disappointed” with the decision.
Controller of Radio 2 and 6Music Bob Shennan spoke extremely highly of Radcliffe: “Mark is a firm favourite with Radio 2 listeners, along with his unrivalled broadcasting credentials and longstanding passion, knowledge and hands-on experience of folk music.” Of Mike Harding, Shennan thanked the veteran broadcaster for spending “15 years at the top of his game, delighting fans with his expertise and rooting out the very best folk music.”
However, the departure may not have been as amicable as Bob Shennan suggests, as Mike Harding took to Facebook after the announcement to state ‘I did not choose to go – was told I was going.’
Harding’s final show will be air December 26 2012.
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