BBC DJ Steve Wright has died aged 69 – with his family telling of their ‘deep sorrow and profound regret’.
The legendary broadcaster presented Steve Wright in the Afternoon for 12 years on Radio 1 and a further 23 years on Radio 2. Today’s shock announcement has left colleagues ‘heartbroken’ and prompted an outpouring of emotional tributes.
The DJ also presented the popular Sunday Love Songs weekend mid-morning show on Radio 2. His last show was a pre-recorded Valentine’s Day edition of the programme two days ago.
Wright told listeners in his final sign-off: ‘I’ll be back for more love songs next Sunday, ta-da then.’
The star’s family said in a statement today: ‘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.
‘As we all grieve, the family requests privacy at this immensely difficult time.’
Steve Wright, who has died at the age of 69, pictured in his recording studio in 1994
Wright seen in a recent photo from when he was out walking in central London
The DJ was married to Cyndi Robinson until they divorced in 1999. They are pictured on their wedding day
Wright’s show on Radio 2 last Sunday was pre-recorded, and it is understood that there is another programme ‘in the can’ though it is thought that it won’t be aired following his death.
Meanwhile, one BBC star told how the death was seen as ‘very, very sudden’ by his colleagues as he was in touch with bosses at the station within just the last few days.
They told the Mail: ‘Steve had been talking to Radio 2 bosses just two or three days and they had no idea he was going to die, we were aware he was struggling with his health a bit but nothing that seemed this serious.
‘It has come as a huge shock. Nobody can believe it. He was engaging with his colleagues so recently. It doesn’t seem at all real.’
Tributes have poured in today from colleagues today.
Presenter Sara Cox said: ‘It’s really hard to know what to say about the news of Steve Wright’s passing, except we are all shocked and devastated and blindsided by this news.
‘Steve was an extraordinary broadcaster, a really kind person, he was witty, he was warm, and he was a huge, huge part of the Radio 2 family, and I know my fellow DJs will all be absolutely shattered too.’
Zoe Ball has told Wright to ‘rest well you wonderful magic man’ following his death at the age of 69.
In a post to X, the broadcaster wrote: ‘Wrighty. Our radio friend, our inspiration, master of broadcasting, the Godfather, always there for us all with support, advice, love & most importantly laughter rest well you wonderful magic man.
‘Life won’t be the same without you here love you my friend my hero.’
Dame Esther Rantzen, who was interviewed by Wright on many occasions, said he was a unique broadcaster.
‘He created a kind of club which whether he was interviewing you or whether you were enjoying it as a listener, you looked forward to joining every day,’ she said.
‘It is a very rare quality, and he made it sound easy. It was frequently very funny, and when he left his daily afternoon show he really knocked a hole in the day for many of us who relied on his company. He will be a real loss.’
The legendary broadcaster presented Steve Wright in the Afternoon for 12 years on Radio 1 and a further 23 years on Radio 2. He is pictured in 1980
The DJ, seen in 2003, was made an MBE for services to radio
Wright with Bunny Campione at an event at Hamley’s Toy Store in London on October 24, 2004
Wright in a photo taken in 1995
The DJ with Alice Cooper at the Sony Radio Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel on May 12, 2004
Wright was hailed today by former colleagues and interviewees
Matt Lucas has referred to Steve Wright as ‘the most brilliant radio broadcaster of them all’ following the latter’s death at the age of 69.
In a post to X, the comedian wrote: ‘Steve Wright was the most brilliant radio broadcaster of them all.
‘So gifted and natural and engaging. It was always a pleasure and an honour to appear on his show. What a huge loss.’
Jo Whiley has thanked Wright, ‘the broadcaster’s broadcaster’, for all his support over the years.
In a post to X, the radio DJ and television presenter wrote: ‘What a man. What a legend. The broadcaster’s broadcaster.
‘One of the kindest, loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Thanks for the support & music chat over the years.
‘Can’t believe we won’t meet in the bowels of MV for our weekly catch up. Love ya Wrighty.’
Wright was born in 1954 in Greenwich, south London, and started his BBC career as a clerk.
He briefly left the broadcaster in 1976 for Thames Valley Radio but returned four years later to present weekend programmes.
Wright being surprised in his studio by Paul McCartney. Also pictured is his production assistant Dianne Oxberry
The DJ with George Michael in an undated photo taken within a BBC studio
BBC Director General Tim Davie said today: ‘All of us at the BBC are heartbroken to hear this terribly sad news. Steve was a truly wonderful broadcaster who has been a huge part of so many of our lives over many decades.
‘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.’
Helen Thomas, Head of Radio 2, said today: ‘Steve understood the connection and companionship that radio engenders better than anyone, and we all loved him for it.
‘He was a consummate professional whose attention to detail was always second to none, and he made his guests laugh, he was fair, and he wanted to showcase them and their work in the best possible light, bringing brilliant stories to our listeners.
‘Steve’s afternoon show was an institution that began on Radio 1 and later moved over to Radio 2 where it was broadcast for 23 years. He believed in the BBC passionately during his career that spanned for more than four decades, and he was always up for pursuing new ideas.
‘He brought joy to millions of listeners with his Sunday Love Songs as well as the legendary Pick of the Pops, which he took on last year and was having fun experimenting with, alongside a host of specials and new BBC Sounds formats which he loved doing.
‘Steve was the first presenter I ever produced more than twenty years ago, and I remember the pure amazement I felt, sitting opposite this legendary broadcaster whose shows I had listened to and marvelled at whilst growing up in Hull.
‘For all of us at Radio 2, he was a wonderful colleague and a friend with his excellent sense of humour, generosity with his time, and endless wise words. We were lucky to have him with us for all these decades, and we will miss his talent and his friendship terribly.’
Lorna Clarke, Director of BBC Music, said: ‘Steve was an extraordinary broadcaster – someone audiences loved, and many of us looked up to. He loved radio, and he loved the BBC, but most of all… he loved his audience.
‘From Radio 1 to Radio 2, he was with us for more than four decades, and brought so much joy to our airwaves, whatever he was up to.
‘We were privileged to have him with us for all these years.’