Radio DJ Steve Wright Dies at 69

Steve Wright, who worked as a DJ for BBC Radio 1 and 2 for over 40 years, has died at the age of 69. No cause of death has been announced, though he was known to have had health problems related to allergies and overweight. His family confirmed his death in a statement on Tuesday 13th Feb saying “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 joined the BBC in the 1970s, and went on to host the afternoon shows on Radio 1 and Radio 2. He also presented TV programmes for the BBC, including Top of the Pops. He was last on air on Sunday 11th February, hosting a pre-recorded special Valentine’s Day edition of his Love Songs programme. According to one BBC star as reported by MailOnline, his death seemed ‘very, very sudden’ to his colleagues as he was working and talking to bosses just days before he passed away. The star said: “Steve had been talking to Radio 2 bosses just two or three days ago… we were aware he was struggling with his health a bit but nothing that seemed this serious.”

As he signed off his last broadcast programme, he told listeners he would be “back for more love songs next Sunday” and said “ta-ra then” before finishing the pre-recorded show with Delicate by Terence Trent D’Arby and Des’ree. News of his death was announced 48 hours later. A last show which has been recorded will probably not be broadcast.

Fans were stunned in 2022 when Steve was sacked from his Afternoon Show slot and he was replaced by Scott Mills. He said at the time: “Sometimes people want you, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there are changes and they give you another offer – and that’s OK. I understand that, I really understand that.” He remained on Radio 2 in a reduced role.


Fellow DJ 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.” Fellow Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley began her programme by saying it felt “very strange” to be doing a tribute to Wright, adding “It’s extremely hard to know what to say and to be talking about someone that you saw only days ago in this very studio where I am right now – doing a tribute show to that person just does not feel right.”

Steve Wright was born in Greenwich, south London, in 1954. His career at the BBC began when he started working as a clerk, and he started broadcasting in 1976 on Radio Reading. Four years later he joined BBC Radio 1, eventually launching Steve Wright in the Afternoon in 1981, the show that would ultimately define his career.


Steve Wright in the Afternoon is credited with inventing the now popular ‘zoo’ format, with contributions from an on-air “posse”, celebrity interviews and trivia. Steve Wright was honoured for his services to radio in the December 2023 New Year Honours list, and said he wanted to dedicate it “to all the people in broadcasting who gave comfort and public service during the pandemic”.

Presenter Jeremy Vine told BBC News: “It’s come as a complete shock to us. The Radio 2 family are in mourning. The thing about Steve is that he was 69 when he died, but he still sounded like he did when he was 30. He was such an incredible professional… a lovely man. He was so encouraging to the next generation of presenters like me. He was so generous with his time. He was such a huge figure in British radio. That cheerful voice is gone, and there are so many people who will feel his loss.”

Fellow Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn posted on social media: “I am so sad that my dear friend Steve Wright has passed away. He was a great broadcaster and we just loved one another’s company. I was shocked at the news and will miss him terribly.”

“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.”

BBC Sounds has put together a selection of tribute shows.

See also: King’s Cancer Diagnosis Prompts Leap in Searches for Advice


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