BBC North personality Frank Wappat has died aged 84. The presenter, who worked for the corporation for four decades, became a popular name across the North of England with his long-running nostalgia programme.
Wappat retired from the BBC in October 2010, however hadn’t been heard on the airwaves for some months before hand having suffered a stroke. It wasn’t the first, he had suffered from ill health for a number of years with his first stroke in 1999, however had always managed to return to the airwaves after fighting back. He took the decision to retire after forty years with the beeb following a diagnosis that he had Aphasia.
“The reality is that I can no longer give 110% to my radio shows, so I have sadly resigned from my broadcasting commitments. No one likes to make tough decisions and this one has been the hardest of my life.” – Frank Wappat, 2010
At the peak of his career his shows were networked across several local BBC Radio stations from the studios of BBC Radio Newcastle, reaching as far south as the North Midlands. He specialised in restoring rare tracks and music from the very beginning of audio recording as well as a huge personal collection of records covering stars from the 1930s onwards.
Frank founded the Al Bowlly Circle, Memory Lane Magazine, British Band-
He was also a supporter of discovering local talent and promoting local stars. He recorded unique sessions with everyone from regional music groups to comedians.
Frank began his broadcasting career with pirate radio in London at the Radio 390 station. He joined the newly launched BBC Radio Newcastle in 1971. While he was its loudest defender he would also criticise corporation management, especially in later years, over decisions which defied what listeners wanted.
I didn’t get the chance to work with him for too long but his name was synonymous with this radio station for decades. Frank retired due to ill health four years ago. Our thoughts are with his wife and family and friends at this difficult time. – Andrew Robson, BBC Newcastle editor speaking to the BBC
Wappat died earlier today (February 17th 2014), his 84th birthday, of heart failure at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle. He leaves a second wife, Susan, and son Paul Wappat who was at one time also a broadcaster for the BBC and latterly Smooth Radio.