It was just before 5pm. I was interviewing Lord Bilimoria for my ALL TALK podcast when I caught sight of a news alert on my phone. I couldn't believe what I was reading. Steve Wright had died. My brain went in several different directions. But I had to keep interviewing Lord B. So I did, and tried to forget what I had seen. But all I wanted to do was cry.

I finished the interview, went back upstairs to the LBC newsroom where everyone was in a state of shock. To all of us, Steve was a broadcasting legend. Even the younger producers. Corey and Chris, my producers did a sterling job. "Who do you want to talk to?" said Corey. "Tony Blackburn. Paul Gambaccini and Mike Read," I said. We couldn't get hold of Mike but Tony and Paul were lined up. I started to write a tribute. Corey saw what I was doing as gently asked if I'd like to prerecord it, rather than read it live. He's well aware of my propensity to blub on air. So that's what I did. I broke down four times while doing the recording. Over the next hour I kept thinking that I should still do it live but in the end I asked Corey to make the decision as I wasn't sure I was best placed to do that. So that's what we did. And here's the result. ANd after the tribute you can hear my interviews with Tony Blackburn and Paul Gambaccini.

It's been a dark day, but the tributes to Steve from across the industry and from his listeners have been so heartwarming.


Here's my tribute in written form

Today the radio industry lots one of its all time greats. If like me you grew up listening to Radio 1 in the late 70s and 80s you grew up with Steve Wright in the Afternoon. This evening we learned the terrible news that Steve Wright has died at the age of 69. It’s true to say that he nurtured my love of radio. I loved his characters – Sid the Manager, Damian the social worker, Ruth from Belfast. His humour was infectious. His love of the music he played was infectious. When I lived in Germany I remember sending him a 45 single of Big in Japan by Alphaville which was a huge hit there. He played it and it became a top 10 hit here. Such was his power over the record buying audience. I remember about three years ago, towards the end of one of my shows my producer buzzed in my ear and said “Steve Wright’s just phoned in”. “What, THE Steve Wright? No way,” I said, but it was Steve and he wanted me to phone him after the show. I did and we talked for at least 45 minutes. Honestly, it was as if I’d known him all my life. I appeared on his show a couple of times and what an experience it was. One of the best things I ever did. Steve phoned me a couple of weeks ago. I was still starstruck and showed the phone to my husband John who was Steve’s biggest fan. I answered it. “Hello old friend,” he said, “I was listening last night and I just wanted to tell you what a great show you did, because people don’t do that often enough, and I just wanted you to know’. That was the mark of the man. Kind, generous, just an all round good guy. As I say this I can’t believe I’ll never speak to him again. I tried to persuade him to do my All Talk podcast, but he hated talking about himself. Try me next year, he’d always say. And now I can’t. It is no exaggeration to claim that Steve Wright is in the top 10 music broadcasters of all time. I loved the guy.

UPDATE: I've just had an email from my German lecturer at UEA back in the early 1980s, Gordon Turner, who reminds me that I was extolling the virtues of Steve Wright even then.

Hearing the news of sudden death of Steve Wright as it broke at the start of PM on Radio 4, I was immediately taken back to an afternoon in my office at UEA when you passionately made the case for him as a one-off, innovative and highly entertaining practitioner of the art of present a music programme. Of course, I no longer know if -  after your impressive career trajectory - you remained the devoted fan that you were then but I am nevertheless writing to express my condolences at Steve Wright’s sudden passing. He will be sorely missed. No doubt because of your little lecture all those years ago, I too became an admirer of his engaging and witty style of presenting but then I’ve never believed that teachers can’t learn from students!

IainDale · My Tribute To Steve Wright, includes interviews with Tony Blackburn and Paul Gambaccini