Veteran broadcaster Ken Bruce has said it is “vitally important” that we listen to the autistic community after he was made an MBE.
The 72-year-old Scottish radio presenter, who has an autistic son Murray, was recognised for his services to autism awareness, radio and charity during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday.
After the presentation, he told the PA news agency: “It’s a great privilege to be awarded the MBE – it wasn’t something I ever thought would happen to me.
“I’m delighted it’s been awarded not just for radio, but for autism awareness because I think it’s vitally important that we listen more to the autistic community – to what they have to say, to people who have lots of gifts and abilities that we’re not using enough at the moment.
“So if this helps in some way to bring awareness a little bit higher in people’s minds, then I’m all for it.”
In 2009, Bruce released his autobiography Tracks Of My Years, speaking about his experience raising Murray, who is non-verbal, with his third wife Kerith.
The radio DJ said that in the past some people in society have believed “autistic people are not able to contribute too much to society”.
He added: “They get put in a little box and just left – and not given enough chance to really develop their skills, their talents and to contribute to society.
“Many of the autistic people I know are eager to add something to society – to help in some way and to contribute, and so if we can possibly help that develop a little more, that would be a great thing.”
Bruce was given his medal by the Princess Royal, which he said was a “lovely” experience and that they spoke about autism and radio.
Bruce left BBC Radio 2 in March, having presented his mid-morning programme for more than three decades, and began a new show on Greatest Hits Radio in April – taking with him his popular music quiz, PopMaster.
According to data from research body Rajar published this week, Greatest Hits Radio appears to be enjoying a Bruce bounce, with the average audience now at 6.6 million – up 14% on the previous quarter, and more than double the 2.9 million listeners two years ago.
Bruce said: “I’m delighted to know that the audience are there and listening to me. All I have to do is keep doing it now and hope they stay.”
The radio presenter said transitioning from the BBC had been “quite easy” as his programme at Greatest Hits is “very similar”.
He added: “When you’re doing a radio programme, you’re doing it for the listeners not for a particular station.
“So I was able to transition to it quite easily, I think, and I’m enjoying it here.”
Reflecting on how he had built such a dedicated following, he said: “If there is a secret, it’s just being there a long time – people getting used to you and you being part of the furniture.
“One of the great strengths is that people get used to having you around, and as long as you’re not annoying them too much, then you can stay as long as you like and as they like.”