"Steve Wright in the Afternoon". The final show was broadcast on September 30th. | Facebook


I grew up in a time before the World Wide Web, mobile phones, Social Media, You Tube and Sky TV, I know unbelievable isn’t it? The only live football game we were able to watch was the FA Cup Final in May. Match of the Day was on a Saturday night and The Big Match was on a Sunday afternoon, with both showing highlights of the weekends games. My love of football was strong then and I kept in touch with it by listening to BBC Radio 2 or Sport on 2 as it was known. Renton Laidlaw was the presenter with Bryon Butler and Peter Jones the commentators and the full-time results were read by James Alexander Gordon. I think probably this was where my love of radio started.

I wouldn’t say I was a huge music fan, I would listen to Radio 1 but it wasn’t something I religiously tuned into like I did with sport. That was until March 1981 when a new show started in the afternoons on Radio 1 from 2pm until 5pm. It was called Steve Wright in the Afternoon and it was about to change radio forever. Sadly I sit here today to pay tribute to the man that was the soundtrack to our afternoons.

I was of course listening to the radio when I heard the tragic news of his passing. It came as quite a shock and it felt like I had lost a member of my family. Steve Wright in the Afternoon was totally different than anything heard before on radio. He brought Zoo radio to our ears. A live radio show which consists of two or more presenters, music, chat, guest interviews, characters, an audience phone-in and competitions delivered in a spontaneous, comic way. Steve’s “posse” as they were known were Janey Lee Grace, Tim Smith with the traffic news coming from firstly Sally Boazman(aka Sally Traffic) and from 2014, Bobbi Pryor. One of the most memorable parts of the shows for me were the characters and I’ve got very nostalgic this past week listening back to some of them.

Probably my favourite was Sid the manager, “Hello Boy” and the sign off would always be , “I’ll speak to you later, Hello?” I can still hear the voice now. A very good friend of mine Ian and I still answer the phone to each other by saying “hello boy!”
Mr Mad “he’s not mad he’s raving mad!”

Mick Jagger, voiced so impressively by Phil Cornwall who said that he’d heard Jagger himself had said that he’d once heard himself on radio and that he couldn’t remember speaking to Steve Wright. Mr Angry from Purley, “I’m so angry I’m going to throw this phone down!”

Old Woman was played by Joyce Frost who was an actual old woman who sadly passed away in 2016. At one point Steve was asked to drop the character because of “stereotyping”, however Joyce stepped in and said she would be devastated if she lost her role on the show.

Others that featured were, Damian the social worker, Gervais the hairdresser, John Bole, Barry from Watford, Elvis with the feature Ask Elvis and so many more.

Steve had great features which held the show together. Things like “It’s another true story” which then became Factoids. In fact he could even make the weather sound fun and interesting. His preparation was second to none, it became his life. His fellow DJ Paul Gambaccini said Steve would finish his show on a Friday and fly to America and be back on Sunday just so he could listen to American radio shows for ideas and content. He would holiday there too and drive around in a car just listening to different radio stations.

After his move from Radio 1 to Radio 2, Steve Wright in the Afternoon was to become The Big Show. Not in any pretentious way it just was the biggest and by far the best. On July 1st 2022, Wright announced on air that the show would end in September 2022, as Radio 2 boss Helen Thomas “wanted to do something different in the afternoons”. The final show was broadcast on September 30th. He took it so well and continued his other show Sunday Love Songs which he used to pre-record. It was a show my wife would listen to and even when you heard it you could hear it still had that Steve Wright fun element.

My only regret is I didn’t listen enough in his latter years as I’d discovered Hawksbee & Jacobs on Talksport who were on at the same time.

However on BBC sounds you can find a collection of programmes and podcasts where you can hear Steve doing what he loved best, interviewing some of the biggest stars in the World.

Steve Wright to me was the G.O.A.T. and the King of afternoon radio. Like Terry Wogan or to me Chris Evans was to Breakfast. It’s made me think that my time in radio isn’t over just yet. A better work, health and family balance and I will be back in the future.