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Jo Whiley celebrates DJ ‘legend’ Steve Wright on BBC Radio 2 following his death

British DJ Jo Whiley has paid tribute to broadcasting “legend” Steve Wright during her slot on BBC Radio 2.

On Tuesday, a statement shared to the broadcaster by Wright’s family announced the death of the “beloved” presenter, aged 69.

At the start of her programme on the radio station, Whiley, 58, said it felt “very strange” to be doing a tribute show to Wright given she had seen him “only days ago”.

“(This is) a very strange show to be doing,” she said.

“It’s extremely hard to know what to say and to be talking about someone that you saw only days ago in this very studio where I am right now – doing a tribute show to that person just does not feel right.

“It’s very hard to find the words to say and to talk about someone in the past tense when it’s someone that you wish was very much still here.

“So it’s tough. The Radio 2 family are devastated.

“There have been many tears… we’ve all worked with Steve Wright for years and years and years, and it’s just very difficult to take in that he’s no longer here.”

She went on: “I mean, Steve was the soundtrack to our lives wasn’t he?

“He lived for radio and the fact that he died but his show went out just the other day is the way he would have wanted it to be.”

During her show Whiley asked members of the public to get in touch and share their memories of Wright.

She told listeners: “We are celebrating the life and the work of the legend that was Steve Wright – with your help.”

Wright joined the BBC in the 1970s, going on to host shows on BBC Radio 1 and 2 for more than four decades which attracted millions of listeners, and was a long-standing presenter of Top Of The Pops.

He last appeared on air on Sunday, hosting a pre-recorded special Valentine’s Day edition of his Love Songs programme on Radio 2.

New Year honours list 2024
George Michael with BBC Radio DJ Steve Wright (PA)

The broadcaster joined BBC Radio 1 in 1980 to host a Saturday evening show before moving on to host Steve Wright In The Afternoon a year later until 1993.

Wright then fronted the Radio 1 Breakfast show for a year until 1995, and completed a stint at commercial radio stations before returning to BBC Radio 2 in 1996 to host Steve Wright’s Saturday Show and Sunday Love Songs.

In 1999, he recreated Steve Wright In The Afternoon every weekday on Radio 2, with celebrity interviews and entertaining trivia featured in his Factoids segment, before stepping down in September 2022.

Former BBC Radio 1 host Scott Mills took over the afternoon slot as part of the station’s schedule shake-up.

Wright continued to present Sunday Love Songs on BBC Radio 2 and since October last year, he presented the long-running show Pick Of The Pops, which had previously been fronted by acclaimed radio DJ Paul Gambaccini.

His friend and long-time BBC radio colleague Ken Bruce said he was “totally shocked” by the news as he revealed they were planning to celebrate Wright’s “richly deserved” MBE with a lunch in the near future in a tribute post on social media.

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

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

Celebrities who had been guests on Wright’s show, including The Office star Stephen Merchant and former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis also paid tribute.

BBC director-general Tim Davie also weighed in, saying everyone at the BBC is “heartbroken” at the “terribly sad news”.

He added: “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.”

DJ Sara Cox, who became emotional as she spoke of Wright’s death during her BBC Radio 2 slot on Tuesday, paid tribute to the DJ in an Instagram post which spoke of his “genius”.

“Every Sunday morning we’re gonna miss you Steve,” she said.

“Thank you for making me so welcome at Radio 2, for your ever evolving radio genius, for showing the rest of us how’s it’s done.”