Steve Wright remembered as ‘pure gold’ who ‘devoted whole life to radio’

The popular radio DJ has died aged 69.

Steve Wright remembered as ‘pure gold’ who ‘devoted his whole life to radio’ PA Media

Steve Wright has been remembered as a broadcaster who was “born to be in a studio” and whose “heart soared when he was on the air”.

The radio DJ, who has died at the age of 69, was a fixture on BBC Radio 1 and then Radio 2 for more than four decades, attracting millions of listeners.

Nicky Campbell, who was his colleague for many years, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s where he belonged. He was absolutely born to be in a studio, it’s where he thrived. It was his natural habitat.

“His heart soared when he was on the air and that was contagious. Our hearts soared when we listened.”

He added: “I liked him so much. He was such good company. He was so, so funny. And he had a waspish wit and he was a delicious gossip.

“He used to gossip about this place all the time. He loved the BBC but he was so exasperated with it sometimes, so frustrated with it sometimes, so funny about it. Any time spent with Steve was pure gold.”

His fellow BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley said: “He just understood radio and he understood what people wanted.

“He devoted his whole life to radio and to his listeners, it was absolutely everything to him. And all he cared about was making people happy.”

Campbell compared Wright to the abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, saying: “He threw all loose-fitting ideas on a canvas and then you looked at the canvas and you thought ‘Well, this is mayhem’, but it was meticulous mayhem, and you looked at the canvas and it looked brilliant, and it was just absolutely wonderful, a beautiful, wonderful sound.”

Chris Evans, who was also a stalwart on Radio 1 and 2 for many years before joining Virgin Radio, said Wright was to afternoons as Sir Terry Wogan was to breakfast.

Wake Up To Wogan on Radio 2 ran from 1993 to 2009 and was the most listened-to radio show in the UK.

Evans wrote on Instagram: “Oh my goodness. What terribly sad news.

“It goes without saying that Steve was the soundtrack to millions of our afternoons for decades. 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 was to afternoons as Sir Terry was to breakfast. One half of the greatest morning and evening drive-time double act UK radio has ever had the amazing good fortune of having on its airwaves.”

Wright was also 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.

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 presented the long-running show Pick Of The Pops, which had previously been fronted by acclaimed radio DJ Paul Gambaccini.

Wright was made an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to radio.

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