Tributes paid to ‘trailblazing’ BBC radio presenter Janice Long following death

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Janice Long has died at the age of 66 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)
Janice Long has died at the age of 66 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)

Figures from the worlds of music and broadcasting have paid tribute to “trailblazing” BBC radio presenter Janice Long following her death aged 66.

Long, who was the first regular female presenter on Top Of The Pops, died at home on Christmas Day following a short illness, her agent said.

Across a 40-year career, she hosted slots on flagship stations such as BBC Radio 1, helped launch the careers of artists including Amy Winehouse and led coverage of major music events such as Live Aid.

BBC radio DJs Greg James and Adele Roberts, TV host Carol Vorderman Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, rock band The Subways and The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess were among those sharing tributes.

James described Long as a “truly brilliant radio person”.

He added: “She was so kind and sweet to me when I was on earlies on R1 and she was on R2 nights at the same time.

“She picked the greats and got them in session before other DJs had even heard of them. She was such a laugh as well.”

Radio 1 disc jockeys Adrian John, Gary Davies, Janice Long and Bruno Brookes take part in an anti-drug use campaign (PA) (PA Archive)
Radio 1 disc jockeys Adrian John, Gary Davies, Janice Long and Bruno Brookes take part in an anti-drug use campaign (PA) (PA Archive)

Roberts hailed Long for forging a path for women in the media industry.

She said: “RIP Janice Long. Thank you for everything you did to inspire others and open doors for other women and radio presenters to prosper.”

TV host Vorderman echoed her comments, writing on Twitter: “Rest In Music lovely vibrant trailblazer Janice Long. Janice is a huge star in our @BBCRadioWales tight knit family.

“As a woman in the industry, I truly admired her as the first woman ever to have a daily show on Radio One @BBCR1. We’re in a state of disbelief to be honest.”

BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley added: “Such sad news. She was ALWAYS so wonderful, generous & kind.

“And thoughtfully played a message to you on the radio when our Rudy was born. Love & condolences to all her family and friends.”

Edith Bowman, who was a regular presenter on Radio 1 until 2012, agreed and described Long as a “trailblazer and role model for all women broadcasters”.

Merseyside band The Coral, who received early support from Long, said: “Sad to hear the news about Janice Long passing.

“She was great to us and like the best broadcasters, talking to her was always easy, like catching up with a friend. RIP Janice.”

Hook said she was “always a great friend and a great supporter of our music” and added: “She was a lovely lady and a pleasure to be around. RIP.”

Burgess, from The Charlatans, praised Long for her support of fledgling bands.

He said on Twitter: “Janice Long was a supporter and mentor for so many bands.

“To hear our records on her show was always the biggest thrill – her enthusiasm and love shone through. One of a kind. Safe travels, we’ll miss ya.”

Veteran radio DJ Tony Blackburn also paid tribute, writing on Twitter: “So sorry to hear the Janice Long has passed away.

“She was the sister of my great friend Keith Chegwin who passed away a few years ago now. On the few times I met her she was always fun to be with. RIP Janice.”

Rock band The Subways said they were “truly devastated” to hear news of the death of “the wonderful, beautiful, passionate Janice Long”.

“We first met her in 2004, and it remains one of our favourite interview experiences. Janice’s love for everything, not just music, will always be felt,” they added.

Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds, who co-wrote football anthem Three Lions, added: “So very sad to hear of the passing of my friend Janice Long, who will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “Janice Long was a stellar presenter, who was loved and respected across the industry, and her passing is a huge loss to music, broadcasting and the BBC.

“Over 40 years she blazed a trail across Radio 1, Top Of The Pops, Radio 2 and 6 Music to name just a few, before building a wonderful show and loyal following on BBC Radio Wales. She will be missed by her fans, listeners and colleagues.

“All our thoughts are with them, Janice’s family and her friends.”

Long grew up in Liverpool, the older sister of late entertainer Keith Chegwin.

After working as cabin crew and in telesales, Long started her broadcasting career as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool in 1979.

She became well known after joining Radio 1 in 1983, becoming the first female to have her own daily show on the station.

Long later became the first woman to be a regular presenter of Top of the Pops where she hosted the show for five years, and was one of the main presenters of the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Long was an early supporter of future stars such as The Smiths, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Primal Scream, Adele, Amy Macdonald and Winehouse, and was awarded a BASCA gold badge of merit for her outstanding contribution to music – a forerunner of The Ivors Academy.

Since 2017, she had hosted the evening show on BBC Radio Wales.

Her agent Nigel Forsyth said in a statement: “Janice was a wonderful, warm human being and exceptional broadcaster.

“She told a brilliant story and always made you roar with laughter with her sharp wit. She will leave behind her husband Paul and two children, who she thought the world of.

“Janice loved the BBC and started her career as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside in 1979, to complete it with the magnificent people at BBC Radio Wales.

“Janice wanted it known she was so thankful to the NHS and all who looked after her there.”

Long also presented on Greatest Hits Radio for a Saturday afternoon slot.

A spokesperson for the station said: “We’re incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Janice Long.

“Throughout her illustrious career, Janice played a significant role and contribution to broadcasting, most recently as an integral part of the Greatest Hits Radio line-up.

“She was one-of-a-kind and will be greatly missed by all of us and her treasured listeners.

“Our deepest condolences are with her family and loved ones at this time.”

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