Blaise Tapp: Losing radio’s Steve Wright is like losing a good friend

The death of the great radio DJ Steve Wright last week prompted an outpouring of grief that is usually reserved for sporting icons or senior members of the Royal Family.
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The announcement on prime time BBC Radio 2 - Europe’s most listened to station - that he had died suddenly aged just 69, sent shockwaves crashing through kitchens and living rooms everywhere, not to mention cars and HGV cabs. It’s not pushing it to say that a nation was stunned by the news.

For more than 40 years Wrighty, as he was known to so many of his listeners, provided the soundtrack to millions of lives, which explains why so many of the tributes from people he’d never met have been so genuine and heartfelt. To many, it feels as though they’ve lost a dear friend.

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He was the master of the art of radio, which if done properly is the most effective of all mediums, above even my beloved written media, which I dedicated nearly 25 years of my career to. Radio is the thing I turn to within minutes of being shaken awake by a hungry eight-year-old as that instant shared connection with people across the country is a signal that the new day has truly begun.

The death of Steve Wright prompted an outpouring of grief. Photo: BBCThe death of Steve Wright prompted an outpouring of grief. Photo: BBC
The death of Steve Wright prompted an outpouring of grief. Photo: BBC

It isn’t just a mug of strong coffee that helps me to begin to feel human each morning but also a large dose of current affairs, which I get from Radio 4’s Today, a programme I’ve listened to avidly over the past 20 years. Once it has finished at 9am, I switch over to Radio 2, which keeps me company for most of the day if I am working from home.

A creature of habit, I only ever move the metaphorical dial if there is a big breaking news story that I need to learn about, which usually means Five Live rather than switching on the telly as only students and the very elderly have the box on during the daytime. The best broadcasters don’t need pictures to keep the audience hooked, which is why I prefer to listen to football - the commentary is, generally speaking, far superior on the radio than it is on television.

I love the interaction of radio and occasionally participate in the on-air conversation and get a genuine thrill whenever I get a ‘shout out’, which is DJ-speak for reading someone’s name.

Radio is the one of the few things I couldn’t do without, which as has been proved this past week, is also the case for a large proportion of the population.