BBC Asian Network controller Bob Shennan has defected to Channel 4 Radio, where he will head the launch of three national digital stations.

No official announcement has been made about Shennan’s departure but staff at the station have been informed in an internal email.

In the email to staff, the BBC director of audio, Jenny Abramsky, paid tribute to Bob Shennan.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for him,” she said.

“Bob has also been a key member of my senior management team. I shall personally miss him a great deal, but I hope you will join me in wishing him all the best in his new role. It will be good to have a familiar face, and someone who is deeply committed to radio as a whole, leading one of the biggest developments for Radio in the UK for many years.”

BBC Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt will take over Shennan’s role as the station seeks a permanent appointment.

As well as the BBC Asian Network, Bob Shennan was controller of Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra.

The vacancy will be advertised next week.