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Radio 2’s Steve Wright dead at 69

BBC

Radio 2’s Steve Wright dead at 69

The presenter was last heard on Sunday in a pre-recorded Valentine’s special of Sunday Love Songs on Radio 2.

Steve Wright has died aged 69 the BBC have announced. Over 40 years of broadcasting saw him DJ on stations BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 as well as hosting several series for television, including his own prime-time Saturday night BBC One series in the 1990s.

Tim Davie, BBC Director General:

“All of us at the BBC are heartbroken to hear this terribly sad news. Steve was a truly wonderful broadcaster who has been a huge part of so many of our lives over many decades. He was the ultimate professional – passionate about the craft of radio and deeply in touch with his listeners. This was deservedly recognised in the New Year Honours list with his MBE for services to radio. No-one had more energy to deliver shows that put a smile on audiences’ faces. They loved him deeply. We are thinking of Steve and his family and will miss him terribly.”

Steve was dropped from weekday BBC Radio 2, amid much unhappiness from listeners, in 2022. The programme had been a staple of Radio 2 for 23 years and built up a loyal fanbase in that time. The three-hour show ended in September of the year however Wright continued to host his pre-recorded two-hour Sunday Love Songs format, seasonal specials and regular Serious Jockin’ output for BBC Sounds and Radio 2. In more recent times he’s also hosted retro chart countdown Pick of the Pops.

Steve however remained loyally with the BBC, while many of his other counterparts, who had also been treated shoddily by the radio service, opted for commercial radio with Paul O’Grady joining Boom Radio and Ken Bruce signing up to Greatest Hits Radio.  Helen Thomas, Boss of Radio 2, despite the station axing weekday Wright two years ago, said “Steve’s afternoon show was an institution”…

“Steve understood the connection and companionship that radio engenders better than anyone, and we all loved him for it. He was a consummate professional whose attention to detail was always second to none, and he made his guests laugh, he was fair, and he wanted to showcase them and their work in the best possible light, bringing brilliant stories to our listeners.

“Steve’s afternoon show was an institution that began on Radio 1 and later moved over to Radio 2 where it was broadcast for 23 years. He believed in the BBC passionately during his career that spanned for more than four decades, and he was always up for pursuing new ideas. He brought joy to millions of listeners with his Sunday Love Songs as well as the legendary Pick of the Pops, which he took on last year and was having fun experimenting with, alongside a host of specials and new BBC Sounds formats which he loved doing.

“Steve was the first presenter I ever produced more than twenty years ago, and I remember the pure amazement I felt, sitting opposite this legendary broadcaster whose shows I had listened to and marvelled at whilst growing up in Hull. For all of us at Radio 2, he was a wonderful colleague and a friend with his excellent sense of humour, generosity with his time, and endless wise words. We were lucky to have him with us for all these decades, and we will miss his talent and his friendship terribly.”

The Beeb this afternoon announced that Steve, who is widely credited for creating the ‘zoo format’ of UK radio broadcasting, with its zany, multi-personality approach to output, died on Monday.

Paying tribute, his family said in a statement:

“It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that we announce the passing of our beloved Steve Wright. In addition to his son, Tom, and daughter, Lucy, Steve leaves behind his brother, Laurence and his father Richard. Also, much-loved close friends and colleagues, and millions of devoted radio listeners who had the good fortune and great pleasure of allowing Steve into their daily lives as one of the UK’s most enduring and popular radio personalities.”

Born on August 26, 1954, in Greenwich, London, Wright started his career in radio during the 1970s. He gained prominence as a DJ on BBC Radio 1, where he hosted various shows, including the original Steve Wright in the Afternoon, which later transferred to an ever-youthful Radio 2 in 1999.

Steve Wright in the Afternoon mixed pop music and conversation with contributions to the – usually showbiz – chatter from the news and traffic hosts to several fictional personas – such as Mr Angry, Gervais the camp hairdresser and The Old Woman – whom Steve interacted with, as well as becoming a top spot for celebrities to pop in for a talk about their latest happenings. On television, he narrated Top of the Pops 2 for BBC 2, hosted primetime The Steve Wright People’s Show for BBC One, introduced chart rundown Top of the Pops and clip show Auntie’s TV Favourites to name just a few.

Throughout his career, Wright has won several awards for his radio work, including multiple Sony Radio Academy Awards and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award.  Wright was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2024 New Year Honours for services to radio.

BBC Radio 2 have in its programming this afternoon been paying tribute with memories from listeners celebrating the life and work of Steve.

Lorna Clarke, Director of BBC Music:

“Steve was an extraordinary broadcaster – someone audiences loved, and many of us looked up to. He loved radio, and he loved the BBC, but most of all… he loved his audience. From Radio 1 to Radio 2, he was with us for more than four decades, and brought so much joy to our airwaves, whatever he was up to. We were privileged to have him with us for all these years.”

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