Noel Edmonds says late Steve Wright was a 'friend' to radio listeners

Radio star Steve Wright has passed away at the age of 69

BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright. (BBC)
BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright has died aged 69. (BBC)

What did you miss?

Noel Edmonds has said radio star Steve Wright’s death has hit fans so hard because people feel they have lost a friend.

The radio legend died on Monday (12 February) aged 69, with his family saying in a statement the following day: “It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that we announce the passing of our beloved Steve Wright.”

Wright’s death triggered an outpouring of grief among his colleagues and fans, and Edmonds appeared on This Morning on Wednesday (14 February) via video link from New Zealand to pay tribute.

What, how, and why?

Noel Edmonds paid tribute to Steve Wright. (ITV screengrab)
Noel Edmonds paid tribute to Steve Wright. (ITV screengrab)

“We have lost one of the greatest exponents of the art of radio,” he said. "And radio, if done well, is an art form. And I know Steve has been described as a DJ, for me he wasn’t a DJ, he’s been described as a broadcaster, I actually don’t like the term 'broadcasting' because that rather suggests that you are shoving content out there, spray and pray and it might hit the listener or reviewer.

"That wasn’t Steve’s style. Steve was one of a very small band, (Terry) Wogan being one of them, who was a brilliant communicator and the thing about being a communicator, you are born with it.” He went on: “The reason why so many people are genuinely distressed by this premature departure is that Steve was a friend. Because he could communicate.”

Paying tribute to Wright’s skill, Edmonds said he had plenty of tools and “weapons” at his disposal. He said: “The thing that really worked for him was the giggle, the Steve Wright giggle which he used in a number of different ways.

"We don’t all feel great when we go into the studio and you put on a face, you act a bit, and he would giggle even when he didn’t feel like it.

File photo dated 09/05/05 of Steve Wright, who has stressed that he is not retiring in a message posted ahead of his final Steve Wright In The Afternoon show on Radio 2.
Radio stars have paid tribute to Steve Wright. (PA Images/Alamy)

“What he would also do is use the giggle to cover up something if he’d had a complete cock up, we’ve all done it, you set off down a route with something you think is brilliant and very quickly, because it’s live, you get into it and you think, ‘Oh bloody hell I wish I hadn’t started this one.' He would giggle his way out of it.”

Edmonds said he felt fortunate to have been a part of a great era of radio with the likes of Wright, explaining that “we touched people in a way that will never happen again”.

“I mourn this passing of this great talent, this marvellous man,” he said. “He had integrity, he had sincerity, he had this incredible commitment to the people he would never meet. And we are unfortunately coming, I think, to the end of that radio era.

“So please cherish the Ken Bruces and the Tony Blackburns and the Gambos (Paul Gambaccini), cherish them, because we are coming to the end of an era.”

Paul Gambaccini's tribute to Steve Wright

Paul Gambaccini said Steve Wright was a 'master of timing'. (ITV screengrab)
Paul Gambaccini said Steve Wright was a 'master of timing'. (ITV screengrab)

Gambaccini also appeared on This Morning and told how he had plans to chat to Wright and emailed him not knowing that he’d passed away.

“We had spoken at great length on Saturday,” he said. “I sent him two emails yesterday not realising he had left us. I was due to talk to him tomorrow because of the subject of the new radio stations that the BBC are supposedly introducing.”

The star said Wright had been “an octopus” in his work, because of how much he could do.

“Steve understood that at its best radio is a club where everyone who listens is a member and all you have to do to be in the club is tune in,” he said. “And once you are in, you are into this wonderful happy world, the world of Steve Wright, with his posse, with his characters, with the factoids and also his technical skill… he was an octopus… he was an absolute master of timing.”

Gambaccini also remembered his radio friend in a piece in The Telegraph, in which he said the late star was “the ultimate mass audience broadcaster”. “He had a gift that lasted across the generations, and that’s why even at the time of his death his audiences were in the millions,” he said.

Read more: Steve Wright

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