Ken Bruce: Radio star says: “I’m at that kind of age where nothing could go that wrong.”

After almost five decades at the BBC, broadcasting legend and PopMaster Ken Bruce changed jobs aged 72. And he’s never been happier.

Born in Glasgow in 1951, Ken Bruce joined BBC Radio Scotland as a continuity announcer in 1977 and presented his final mid-morning show – including his iconic music quiz segment PopMaster – on Radio 2 on 3rd March 2023. Divorced twice and a father of six, he lives with his third wife Kerith Coldham in Buckinghamshire.

Ken Bruce Greatest Hits Radio

Ken Bruce Greatest Hits Radio

Changing jobs aged 71 can be daunting for many people, but you seem to have embraced the shift wholeheartedly…

I have to say it’s gone, really, really well so far, and being at Greatest Hits Radio feels like a home from home already. It feels as if I’ve been there for years and years and years. It’s very comfortable.

How different is it working there to working at the BBC?

I’m doing much the same kind of programme; the same kind of thing as I was doing before, but it’s in a different place, with a different audience and a slightly different style of doing things, but it’s gone really well and I’m entirely happy.

BBC broadcasting legend Ken Bruce

Ken is a BBC broadcasting legend

How anxious were you about leaving the BBC after 46 years there in total?

It actually didn’t worry me that much at all, because I was going to be doing the same sort of thing. And to be honest, I’m at that kind of age where nothing could go that wrong.

It’s not like when you’re 40 and you make one false move and throw your entire career away. If it had all gone completely wrong, too bad. It doesn’t matter. I’ve had a good life and a good career but the fact that seems to have gone smoothly, and everybody’s been happy with it – and I’m happy – that’s the main thing. 

Since you’ve been at Greatest Hits Radio you’ve interviewed an incredible selection of huge stars including Cher, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, Boy George, Jason Donovan and Elton John. Who have you must enjoyed quizzing?

Sometimes with younger artists their day-to-day schedules are such a whirlwind that they haven’t really done much with their lives. They’re always pleasant but you don’t always get an awful lot in the interview, but the bigger more established stars know what they’re doing and want to give you something.

They’re generous with their time and they’ve lived a life and none more so than Elton John, who is a wonderful man to talk to.

Ken received a MBE in 2023

Ken received a MBE in 2023

Five decades is a long time to survive in any industry. What’s the secret of your longevity?

If I knew that I would have been planning for that a long time ago. I have no idea why or why what I do has remained in some way useful or popular. I just know it does seem to work. So, I don’t change it.

Your son Murray is autistic and you’re quite active in raising awareness of the condition. Tell us about some of the events you get involved with…

Well yesterday I hosted an awards ceremony for a charity called Dimensions. It’s for people with disabilities – either learning disabilities or any kind of disability – who are going out in the community and doing inspirational things for other disabled people and helping them, but also demonstrating that it’s possible to do great things even though you have some disadvantages and also possible to still make a useful contribution to society.

It’s really a heart-warming thing to be able to do and they are fantastic people. Everybody is so impressive.

 

PopMaster Ken Bruce

PopMaster Ken

And tell us about the documentary you made last year with Chris Packham. Has autism awareness increased recently compared to how it used to be?

It was called Inside Our Autistic Minds, and it was a fantastic project to get involved with and afterwards we had lots of people saying they were inspired by watching what we were doing.

It’s a constant fight but I’m passionate about demonstrating that everybody – whatever challenges they might face in life – has something to offer.

Most 73-year-olds are happy to put their feet up. Why do you keep working?

My job is fun to do. I get to play music and to listen to some very good music and I get to enjoy myself. It’s a dialogue everyday with somebody at home and it’s something that enhances me and at the end of every day I feel better for it, so as long as that continues, I’ll carry on doing it.

  • The new series of PopMaster stars on More4 in June.