Martin Kelner - 'the most charmless sacking I have ever suffered'

By James Cridland for
Posted 20 March 2016, 7.17pm edt


In a blog post, Martin Kelner has revealed the manner of his sacking from BBC Radio Leeds.

Kelner, who had been with BBC Radio Leeds since 1981, reveals that he was told after his programme on 18 March that he'd presented his last programme. The meeting, with Managing Editor Sanjiv Buttoo, took less than five minutes.

Sanjiv had, in a pincer movement, assembled all the staff upstairs for an "important meeting" so that no-one was around when I left after my show, and I had no chance for farewells with any of my colleagues. So I had the delightful experience of slinking out of the building alone and unseen.

In his blog post, Kelner reveals that he had voluntarily taken a pay cut when moved to lunchtimes in November 2012. After a stay in hospital for cancer treatment, he also reveals that, as a freelance broadcaster, the BBC required him to repay some of his wages.

When I started work again - initially I was only able to do one day a week, owing to being, er, nearly dead - I had to pay back money I owed. I didn't have the cash at the time, so I agreed to pay back £20 off every show fee. The really sweet thing is they didn't sack me until I had paid back every penny I owed from when I was busy dying. I finished paying them back about a month ago, just in time for the heave-ho.

This sacking - for no fault of Kelner's - is the latest in a line of poor judgements by the BBC. BBC Three Counties presenter Iain Lee was fired for not according enough respect to an interviewee who believed that homosexuals were an abomination. Tony Blackburn was apparently fired for changing his mind in evidence to a BBC enquiry - though Director of Radio, Helen Boaden, had done similar for the Pollard report in 2012.

Possibly most frustrating, for a presenter with considerable pedigree, is that Kelner was unable to say goodbye to an audience that has been with him for thirty-five years. As he says in his blog:

It has always seemed a little unfair to me, given so much effort is put in to make a connection between voice and audience, and in view of the BBC's loudly proclaimed attention to honesty and accountability.


Read his blog in full

More information

BBC Radio Leeds
West Yorkshire
James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.