DJ Steve Wright, a presenter on BBC radio stations, has died.
Wright, who was 69, presented for BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 for more than four decades.
He was last on air hosting a pre-recorded Valentine’s show on Sunday, the BBC said, and died on Monday.
Paying tribute, his family said in a statement: “It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that we announce the passing of our beloved Steve Wright.
“In addition to his son, Tom, and daughter, Lucy, Steve leaves behind his brother, Laurence and his father Richard. Also, much-loved close friends and colleagues, and millions of devoted radio listeners who had the good fortune and great pleasure of allowing Steve into their daily lives as one of the UK’s most enduring and popular radio personalities.”
Bosses at the BBC also paid tribute, with Lorna Clarke, director of music, describing Wright as “an extraordinary broadcaster – someone audiences loved, and many of us looked up to”.
She continued: “He loved radio, and he loved the BBC, but most of all… he loved his audience.”
Former BBC radio colleagues including Ken Bruce, Simon Mayo and Tony Blackburn joined the tributes, with Mayo describing the DJ as “one of the greats” and “a fabulous, creative whirlwind of a presenter”.
Current Radio 2 breakfast presenter Zoe Ball said life would not be the same.
Born in Greenwich, south London, in 1954, Wright’s started his career at the BBC as a clerk, leaving the corporation to join Thames Valley Radio to start his broadcasting career in 1976.
Four years later, he was back at the BBC, presenting weekend programmes on Radio 1 before launching the show that would ultimately define his career, Steve Wright In The Afternoon, in 1981.
He had a brief stint hosting the Radio 1 breakfast show for a year from 1994, before Chris Evans was moved into the role, and then left to join Talk Radio – but was back at the BBC once again in 1996.
He began presenting a Saturday programme and Sunday Love Songs on Radio 2 from 1996, before launching his afternoon show in 1999, a slot he would keep until 2022.
Following schedule changes at the station the slot was taken over by Scott Mills, but Wright stayed with Radio 2 to present Sunday Love Songs as well as a series of specials and podcasts.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said staff were “heartbroken” to hear of his death, which comes just weeks after he was made an MBE for services to radio.
“Steve was a truly wonderful broadcaster who has been a huge part of so many of our lives over many decades,” Mr Davie said. “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.”
Radio 2 said it planned to celebrate Wright’s life with a range of programming across the station.
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