Charlotte Lock, launch director of the BBC Sounds app, has stepped down nine months after taking up the role. She’s steered the project through some turbulent times, memorably appearing on the Fortunately podcast at the start of this year to defend the decision to experiment with making some shows temporarily Sounds-only, and leaves as the BBC is seeking an overall “Controller” for the app.
The reason given for her departure is a geographical one: Lock and her family are based in the north of England, and she’s been commuting to London in order to do the launch director role. Now, she says BBC Sounds “needs visible and hands-on leadership in London,” which she can’t provide while doing so much travelling. She is switching to a role with BBC Sport, reviewing their offering to younger audiences. BBC Sport, by the way, is a BBC North division, and as such is based at the Media City campus in Salford, Manchester.
James Purnell, the BBC’s Director of Radio and Education, announced Lock’s departure in an internal email. He said:
“I respect Charlotte’s reasons for opting out of this next phase for Sounds, and with her agreement, I want to share that context with you. I persuaded Charlotte to move from her role as Director of M&A for R&E and Content to lead the launch phase of Sounds, knowing that meant typically travelling 20 hours each week back and forth from her home in the North of England. Charlotte has been clear that the next phase of Sounds needs visible and hands-on leadership in London and cannot be done remotely – a commitment that unfortunately, Charlotte can’t make long-term with a young family and home in the North.”
The criticism of being too London-centric is one that is often levelled at the BBC, because being geographically representative is one of the responsibilities that comes with its public funding. I’ll dig into this further in Tuesday’s newsletter.