Steve Wright: DJs pay emotional tributes to ‘radio legend’

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‘No-one was that good’: Colleagues pay tribute to Steve Wright

By Yasmin Rufo
BBC News

Tributes have poured in for Steve Wright, with fellow DJs remembering him as a broadcasting “legend” and a “radio genius”.

Nicki Chapman, who is filling in for Zoe Ball on Radio 2’s breakfast show this week, was moved to tears on air.

“I said to myself I wasn’t going to cry and I have done it once,” she said as she read out messages from listeners.

Wright, who hosted shows on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 for more than four decades, died on Tuesday at the age of 69.

His Radio 2 colleague Jo Whiley told Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that “he was a master of his craft”.

“He devoted his whole life to radio and all he cared about was making people happy,” she said.

Whiley hosted a tribute show on Radio 2 on Tuesday evening and said it felt “very strange” to be doing it given she had seen Wright “only days ago”.

“We were all in tears and felt very sad, I hate talking about him in the past tense,” she said on the Today programme.

Fellow former Radio 1 presenter Nicky Campbell told Today that Wright “was born to be in a studio”.

“His heart soared when he was on the air, and that was contagious.”

Wright, Mike Read and Bruno Brooks stir up an evil brew in London in 1988

Mike Read, who co-hosted a show called Read and Wright with the DJ on local radio before they moved to Radio 1, told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday that he was a “ringmaster” and “good at pulling people in”.

“He worked tirelessly, he was a radio man not just somebody who turned up, did the show and went home. It was in his mind, always thinking of ideas”.

Tony Miles, known to listeners as Smiley Miley from the Radio 1 roadshow, added his tribute on BBC Breakfast, calling Wright a “radio genius”.

“Hundreds of thousands of people would come and see him on a roadshow, he just had this way of communicating and bringing his characters to life,” he said.

Radio 1 DJs Simon Bates, Tony Blackburn, Dave Lee Travis, Long, Wright, Read and Gary Davies

Ex-Radio 1 breakfast show host Chris Evans shared a tribute on Instagram, writing that Wright was the “soundtrack to millions of our afternoons”.

“Nobody will ever come close to the length and breadth of the way he encompassed all things entertainment, in his own highly original and light hearted style,” he wrote.

“He was to afternoons as Sir Terry [Wogan] was to breakfast.”

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‘Delightfully nuts’

Radio 2 colleagues Gary Davies and Tony Blackburn paid tribute to their friend on BBC Newsnight, calling him a “very generous broadcaster”.

“If you were a guest, he wanted you to shine, it wasn’t about him,” said Davies.

Blackburn added: “He was such a lovely man and was delightfully nuts, that’s what I loved about him. Whenever we saw one another, we burst out laughing,”

Tony Blackburn (pictured with Wright and Paul Gambaccini in 2002) described the afternoon host as a “great broadcaster”

Blackburn also recalled how Wright was a “pioneer of zoo radio”, a format that featured his on-air “posse” as well as celebrity interviews and entertaining trivia featured in his Factoids segment.

His friend and long-time Radio 2 colleague Ken Bruce said he was “totally shocked” by the news, revealing they had been planning to celebrate Wright’s “richly deserved” recent MBE with a lunch in the near future.

“An outstanding and innovative broadcaster whose listeners loved him. What a loss to the world of radio,” Bruce added.

In a heartfelt video message shared to Instagram, Paul Gambaccini called Wright “one of the all-time greats”.

Sara Cox became emotional when she reacted to the news of Wright’s death during her Radio 2 slot on Tuesday. “We are all shocked and devastated and blindsided by this news,” she said.

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