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Veteran BBC radio DJ quits local radio after 14 years

Veteran BBC radio DJ quits local radio after 14 years

DJ Tony Blackburn has announced that he is stepping down from his presenting role on BBC Local Radio after 14 years.

The broadcaster, 81, who has been presenting for BBC Radio since 1967, announced plans to step back in an X/Twitter post this week.

“Hi there, just wanted to let you know that I have decided to end my @BBCLOCALRADIO Sunday afternoon show that goes out on @BBCBerkshire @BBCOxford @BBCRadioSolent and @BBCSounds,” he wrote.

Blackburn said that his final local radio show will be on 24 March.

“I have been a part of the Berkshire line up since 2012 and have loved doing the show bringing music from the 50’s up to the present day,” Blackburn added.

He said that he might return to BBC Local Radio in the future, but he will focus his attention on his BBC Radio 2 shows, which include Sounds of the Sixties and Tony Blackburn’s Golden Hour.

Fans sent their well-wishes to the presenter on social media but expressed their disappointment at his departure from local radio.

Tony Blackburn joined BBC Radio in 1967 (PA)
Tony Blackburn joined BBC Radio in 1967 (PA)

“You’ll be missed by thousands, but I’m selfishly glad that you’ll still be on the air at least, just in a smaller way,” wrote on listener on X/Twitter.

Another added: “Tony. Take it easy, ok! You’re amazing – I get tired just by *thinking* of everything you do in a week.”

Blackburn first found success on pirate station Radio Caroline in the 1960s before joining the then-newly launched BBC Radio 1 as the station’s first DJ in 1967. During its first broadcast, Blackburn played “Flowers in the Rain” by rock band The Move.

The latest announcement comes weeks after he revealed he had also quit his Soul on Sunday programme, which he presented on BBC Radio London for 40 years.

The veteran DJ said: “Hi everyone, just thought I’d let you know that after many happy years on @BBCRadioLondon I have decided to leave the station and this Sunday will be my last Soul on Sunday.”

He assured listeners that the move was “totally my decision” and he had not been asked to step back.

“Over the years we have had a lot of fun with some fantastic live shows for Children In need and have played some great music... This is totally my decision and thanks to the many happy years there, but time to move on. Thanks for listening.”

Tony Blackburn pictured in November 1979 (Getty Images)
Tony Blackburn pictured in November 1979 (Getty Images)

Blackburn, who won the first series of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! back in 2002, has also been touring theatres nationwide with his Sounds of the Sixties live show.

Last year, Blackburn was forced to pull out of his UK tour and accompanying radio show due to a two-month-long bout of sepsis, pneumonia and blood poisoning.

At the time, Blackburn told his listeners he had a chest infection. But once he was fully recovered and was been discharged from hospital in August, he appeared on an episode of BBC Radio Scotland’s Afternoon Show in to give a health update.

“I was doing three [live shows] a week at one time forgetting that I’m now a little bit older, so I ended up in hospital for two months with sepsis and pneumonia and blood poisoning,” he said.

“And I didn’t realise how unwell I was until one day in the hospital my whole family were gathered around the bed. And I thought ‘this isn’t good’.”

After a three-month break, Blackburn has returned to his tour but initially reduced his schedule down to one show per week rather than three per week.

He said: “I haven’t been doing the [tour] show for about three months because I was told to rest a little bit. Now I’m back in form and we’re selling out.”