Matthew Bannister is a broadcaster and former senior BBC Executive. Since 2006 he has been the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s weekly obituary programme “Last Word”. He also hosts his own award-winning podcast “Folk on Foot” in which he goes walking with leading folk musicians in the landscapes that have inspired their music. “Folk on Foot” has won or been nominated for nine major awards, including Gold and People’s Choice LOVIEs for Best Arts and Entertainment Podcast, a Gold Audio Production Award for its producer Natalie Steed and a Silver British Podcast Award for Best Arts and Culture Podcast. Matthew was nominated as Best Music Presenter at the 2019 Audio Production Awards.
For ten years from 2008, Matthew presented the BBC World Service human interest interview programme “Outlook”. He has also fronted his own daily late-night show on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as covering the network’s mid-morning phone in, Radio 2’s “Jeremy Vine Show” and Radio 4’s “Broadcasting House” and “Saturday PM”. Matthew was on air on BBC Radio 5 Live on July 7th 2005, when bomb attacks killed 56 people on the London transport system. He presented four hours of live coverage of this breaking news story (one hour of it simulcast on Radio 4) before returning to the airwaves the same evening for another two-hour show.
Matthew’s broadcasting career began in 1978 at BBC Radio Nottingham where he presented the news and current affairs breakfast show. In the 1980s he was a reporter and news presenter on London’s Capital Radio and BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat. His TV credits include “The Cram” on BBC Two and Five’s “The Wright Stuff”.
Matthew has also been a senior media executive. He was Head of News and Talks at Capital Radio before becoming Managing Editor of BBC Radio London which he re-launched as BBC GLR in 1989. Here he developed the careers of Chris Evans, Chris Morris, Danny Baker and Emma Freud, who all went on to work with him again when he became Controller of BBC Radio 1 in 1993. His controversial re-positioning of Radio 1 to attract a younger audience and support new music is widely credited with being behind the success of Britpop and the dance music boom of the 1990s. Matthew went on to become Director of BBC Radio, Chief Executive of BBC Production and BBC Director of Marketing and Communication before standing down from management to return to broadcasting in 2000.
Matthew is a Fellow of the Radio Academy and The Royal Society of Arts. He has been awarded honorary Doctorates by Nottingham University and Sheffield Hallam University.