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Obituary of Janice Long | Radio

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DJ Janice Long, who died at the age of 66 from a short illness, has become a broadcast pioneer as the first woman to have her own weekday show on BBC Radio 1 and the first to become a regular Top of the Pops presenter.

Unlike some of the prominent DJs she shared the airwaves with during the early part of her career in the 1980s, Long was a true music fan, credited with helping a number of artists she had championed, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, the Teardrop Explodes, Amy Winehouse and the Coral.

She continued to promote new talent after leaving Radio 1 and Top of the Pops in the late 1980s, hosting a lengthy breakfast show on Radio 2, starting in 2000, and working for various other stations. , including Radio 6 Music, XFM and its own co-creation, Liverpool station Crash FM. Until her death, she broadcast four evenings a week on BBC Radio Wales, as well as Saturday afternoons on Greatest Hits Radio.

Obituary of Janice Long |  Radio

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Janice Long, left, with singer and actor Toyah Willcox in 1985. Photograph: Radio Times / Getty Images

Long was born in Liverpool to Margaret (née Wells) and Colin Chegwin, who encouraged their three children to continue their interest in the stage. Keith became a TV presenter and his twin brother, Jeff, took up music promotion. During her teenage years, Janice was a member of the Merseyside Youth Drama Society, but she began her professional life as a cabin crew for Laker Airways, then as a saleswoman, insurance and telesales clerk before marrying Trevor Long in 1977 and switch to broadcasting. as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside two years later.

Soon she hosted a Sunday night show, Streetlife, taking a weekly peek at the post-punk scene in Liverpool, and in that role, she helped Frankie Goes to Hollywood garner more attention by giving them their premiere. radio appearance. Long was quickly promoted to her own afternoon show and it was there that she did an interview with Radio 1 DJ Paul Gambaccini, who was so impressed with her style and knowledge that he recommended her to her bosses.

As a result, she joined Radio 1 at the end of 1982 with a Saturday night show, and within two years she had a much bigger place Monday through Thursday night with the Janice Long program, in which she featured a mix of new music, interviews and live concerts. studio sessions.

Radio 1 had been a stronghold of the male DJ since its launch in 1967, and although Annie Nightingale had been on its airwaves since 1970 with a Sunday night show, promoting Long to a regular midweek spot was revolutionary.

Warm, witty and in good company – on radio as in life – she aligned more with the studious interests of John Peel and David “Kid” Jensen than with mainstream DJ “Smashie and Nicey”. She was often associated with Peel or Jensen on Top of the Pops and appeared on the program more than 60 times as the only female presenter, paving the way for Jackie Brambles, Anthea Turner, Fearne Cotton and Jayne Middlemiss to come later. . In 1985, she was also chosen as one of the main presenters for the BBC’s coverage of the massive Live Aid concert at Wembley.

Obituary of Janice Long |  Radio

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Janice Long, left, at a press conference for Live Aid in 1985. Left to right: Adam Ant, Elton John, Bob Geldof, Gary Kemp, Midge Ure and Tony Hadley. Photograph: Alan Davidson / Rex / Shutterstock

Long’s successful six-year spell on Radio 1 and Top of the Pops ended in 1988, when she took time off to have a child with her partner, Paul Berry (whom she married in 2017), after a divorce from Trevor in 1982. As was common at the time, no one proposed him back.

Instead, in 1989 Long moved to Greater London Radio (now BBC Radio London), where she hosted the daily breakfast show before moving on to weekends. While maintaining her presence there, she also appeared on occasional broadcasts for what was then BBC Radio 5 and made an early connection behind the scenes with one of the newer commercial radio stations, independent radio XFM.

In 1995, she returned to Liverpool to found an alternative rock and dance station, Crash FM (later Juice FM and now Capital Liverpool) with support from, among others, Bob Geldof and Boy George. Although she did some presentation work for the station, once this was properly established she returned to the BBC, where from 1999 she presented a three hour show on Saturday afternoon for Radio 2, becoming a longtime weekday breakfast presenter the following year.

While there, she also appeared for two years on BBC Radio 6 Music from its launch in 2002, bringing her Dream Ticket program to new music and studio sessions.

Long was with Radio 2 for a total of 18 years, although after almost a decade she was kicked back to the box after midnight and she finally left in 2017 to present her own Monday-Thursday evening show on BBC Radio. Wales. From 2020, she also appeared on a Saturday afternoon show on Greatest Hits Radio.

Obituary of Janice Long |  Radio

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Janice Long on the Lorraine TV show in 2018. Photograph: Ken McKay / ITV / Rex / Shutterstock

In addition to her prolific radio work, Long has also appeared on a number of light TV shows over the years, including game shows, and in 2006 she was recalled to co-host the final episode of Top of. the Pops after it was decided to bring this to a close.

In 2018, she received an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University in recognition of her commitment to music, and the same year was featured in the Royal College of Art’s First Women UK exhibition, celebrating 100 British women pioneers of music. 21st century. She was also a patron of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Long is survived by Paul, their daughter Blue and their son Fred, his father and his brother Jeff. Keith died in 2017.

Janice Long, DJ and host, born April 5, 1955; passed away on December 25, 2021

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