Friday 6 December 2019

Sir Terry Wogan's colleagues hail 'radio genius'

Veteran broadcaster and Radio 2 stalwart Sir Terry Wogan
Veteran broadcaster and Radio 2 stalwart Sir Terry Wogan

Sir Terry Wogan will be missed greatly at BBC Radio 2, his colleagues have said as they described him as a "radio genius".

Fellow presenters were among those to pay tribute to the 77-year-old outside Broadcasting House in central London just hours after news of his death broke.

Drive Time presenter Simon Mayo first met Sir Terry covering the 1992 Olympics, and recalled his ability to put people at ease.

He told the Press Association: "He was warm, funny, welcoming, generous. You would think 'Oh my goodness, it's Sir Terry' and then as soon as you met him he'd offer you a biscuit and some cold curry that had been brought in the night before. I've worked with intimidating broadcasters and Terry wasn't that."

Describing him as a "radio genius", he said listeners saw Sir Terry as a friend.

He said: "I think people are shocked and stunned because of the fact that he was a radio genius. The staple of all great radio is the friend behind the microphone and he was the ultimate friend behind the microphone."

Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2, made meeting Sir Terry his first priority when he took over the station seven years ago.

He said: "I thought the first thing I ought to do is go and see Terry.

"He was just such a welcoming, warm, generous person.

"Instantly I felt I'd just really lucked out doing this job to be perfectly honest.

"I realised what sort of a man he was, and that was the man I'd seen and heard in television and radio."

He described him as a natural when it came to radio, and recalled fellow presenter Jeremy Vine's shock when Sir Terry turned up five minutes before a show one day having done no preparation.

Mr Shennan said: "The thing about Terry was that he really didn't go into a lot of preparation for his programme. He fed off the audience. He didn't pre-judge what it would be about that day.

"Jeremy said to Terry 'How are you going to prepare for everything, have you done all your prep for that?' And Terry said 'No, I'll just get out of the lift and I'll wander into the studio. I'll open the microphone and we'll see what people have got to say.'

"And that was how he did it. And it was why he was so good."

Mark Goodier, who presented a tribute show to Sir Terry on Sunday morning, said he fulfilled all his expectations when they first became colleagues.

He said: "In my case I grew up listening to many of the people I have been lucky enough to end up working with.

"It's difficult to explain that if you wanted to do that job and end up working with your heroes, it's not always going to be as rewarding as you might think.

"Terry completely invalidates the expression 'never meet your heroes' because he was always courteous and charming."

He also paid tribute to Sir Terry's ability to do shows and make speeches off-the-cuff.

"He was funny on the air because he knew how to deal with listeners and their correspondence.

"He told me on several occasions that he never prepared anything. That's an incredible thing to be able to do. He was just a natural and there ain't many of them."

Richard Madeley, who had been sitting in for Sir Terry on Radio 2, said "none of us saw this coming", adding that he expected to see the veteran presenter back working early next month.

Speaking just after leaving the studio, he recalled first meeting Sir Terry some years ago while presenting television show This Morning, when the long-time Children In Need host came on to promote the charity programme.

He said: "What we realised straight away was there was no disconnect between the Terry Wogan that we saw on the television or heard on the radio, and the real man, none at all."

He also marvelled at Sir Terry's flair for turning up just before a show and doing a good job. He said: "He would just walk in, shoulder off his coat and start broadcasting without there being any kind of gap."

PA Media

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