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The Career of Steve Wright

In 1980, soon after joining Radio One from a successful stint on Radio Luxembourg, Steve Wright quickly established himself as one of the most inventive, amusing and popular broadcasters on the Network.
Pioneering his own brand of personality radio, he quickly endeared himself to the masses and his programmes (particularly the eponymously named Steve Wright In The Afternoon Show grabbed huge audiences - the highest shares on the station at the time.
Unlike his colleagues, he didn't take himself too seriously, he was funny, original and like a breath of fresh air on a Network dominated by the type of DJ ridiculed by Harry Enfield as Smashy and Nicey.
He was a trailblazer in this Country for what has been termed "Zoo" broadcasting, the technique in which the presenter surrounds himself with a crowd of people who contribute to the on-air gossip and now everybody does it - Chris Evans, Chris Tarrant, Chris Moyles, even Terry Wogan.
With his "Afternoon Boys" Posse, Impressionist Phil Cornwell whose cast of characters included John Cole, Mick Jagger and David Bowie ("Tell us what the time is! Tell us what the temperature is!"), and original Radio Sidekick Richard Easter, Steve quickly became the biggest star on the station and his Summer Road Shows with another favourite Dr. Fish Filleter were renowned across the Country.


In January 1994, with Simon Mayo, the Radio One Breakfast Show host, favouring a later slot in the schedule, new Controller Matthew Bannister was left with the unenviable task of replacing him and Steve was asked to switch his hugely popular afternoon show to early mornings.
However after only fourteen months, Steve resigned and his Breakfast Show was no more.


Steve Wright (Top Operative)
"Basically I took the job as a favour to Matthew. He said, 'Would you do Breakfast for a year?' 'Yeah, sure, I haven't done that one yet.' And as far as I was concerned it was successful. If you look at the figures I achieved, and then look at what was happening to the rest of the network, we held onto it very well. But I felt at the time I'd gone as far as I could go within that format. I wanted to do talk radio, and a television show. I just felt, 'Done that, been there. I didn't leave for any other reason. There was no difference whatsoever doing the show in the morn-ing. You just prep up through the night. It was just a question of time. My leaving was the one departure that was coincidence; had Radio 1 maintained its audience share I still would have left"


Matthew Bannister (Controller)
"The format of the show itself was all wrong for that time in the morning. "You listen in a different mode after lunch than you do before it. You want shorter, more topical, faster material in the morning"


Andy Parfitt (Producer)
"In the afternoon the preparation had a natural build-up and climax. Steve would come in at about ten, his posse would be around, they'd sit around talking and going through all the papers, they'd write some things over lunch and do some funny voices, and by the time he came to broadcast at three they were all fired up, and the show had a topical and fresh feel. But at breakfast, they'd prepare a lot of the show the day before, and only came in at 5.45 in the morning, and when it went on air it didn't sound like it was today. Just not fresh enough or exciting." "I think he cared mostly about what night happen to his reputation if he stayed at Radio 1 and saw his listenership drop. He was reading a lot of negative press about Radio1 every day. He thinks, 'I'm part of this, and not only am I part of it, but I'm actually their flagship show - me, Steve Wright, the most popular broadcaster in Britain.' One option is to say, 'Hell, I'm quitting this rubbish,' and that's what he did. It's like when a star striker leaves the football team when you're fighting against relegation".


So in the early part of 1995, Steve left to pursue a career in Talk and TV, hosting "The Steve Wright People Show" on BBC1 amongst other projects. From there he did a stint on Talk Radio before in March 1996 moving to back to the Beeb and Radio 2 to present the Saturday show "Steve Wright in the Morning".
In July 1999 when Ed "Stupot" Stewart vacated his afternoon slot on the same Network, it left the opportunity for Steve to resurrect "Steve Wright in the Afternoon" which he still presents to this day, combining the best play list on Radio 2 with star interviews with guests like Bruce Forsythe, Financial Expert Alvin Hall and Michael Winner.
He also presents a Sunday "Love Songs" radio show and on telly, various projects including Top of the Pops 2.


To his critics he may be part Dave Lee Travis, part Chris Evans and his chirpy style and cheerful manner may still polarise popular opinion; but listening figures don't lie and with The Steve Wright in the Afternoon Show now firmly entrenched back in the schedules and attracting record numbers of listeners, not everyone can be wrong........can they?

For more on the workings of Radio One, read Simon Garfield's excellent book: " The Nation's Favourite - The True Adventures of Radio One" published by Faber & Faber.