JEREMY Vine, Greg James and Jo Whiley have led tributes to “legendary” BBC radio presenter Janice Long following her death aged 66.

The radio DJ, who became a “trailblazer” as the first woman to have her own daily show on Radio 1 and the first regular female presenter on Top Of The Pops, died at home on Christmas Day following a short illness, her agent said.

During her 40-year career, Liverpool-born Janice, who lived in Rainford for a spell when she was younger, helped launch the careers of future stars including Amy Winehouse, Adele and The Smiths, and led coverage of major music events such as Live Aid.

Janice grew up in Liverpool, the older sister of late entertainer Keith Chegwin.

After working as cabin crew and in telesales, Jshe started her broadcasting career as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool in 1979.

She became well known after joining Radio 1 in 1983, becoming the first female to have her own daily show on the station.

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She later became the first woman to be a regular presenter of Top Of The Pops where she hosted the show for five years, and was one of the main presenters of the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Broadcaster Vine shared a photo of Long at her radio booth to Twitter and wrote: “Going to miss you, #janicelong.

He also posted an image of Long with her brother, the late entertainer Keith Chegwin, adding: “Brother and sister, both left us far too young, at 60 and 66.”

BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James described Long as a “truly brilliant radio person”.

He added: “She was so kind and sweet to me when I was on earlies on R1 and she was on R2 nights at the same time.

“She picked the greats and got them in session before other DJs had even heard of them. She was such a laugh as well.”

BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley hailed Long a “trailblazer and role model for all women broadcasters”.

She added: “Her passion for music was unrivalled. I loved her Radio 1 show with a passion. Condolences to her family”

Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts agreed, writing on Twitter: “Thank you for everything you did to inspire others and open doors for other women and radio presenters to prosper.”

BBC Radio Wales, where Long had hosted an evening show since 2017, aired a tribute show to her on Boxing Day afternoon hosted by presenter Mal Pope and featuring some of her favourite songs.

Greatest Hits Radio, who she presented for on a Saturday afternoon, also celebrated the life and work of Long with a show on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the station said: “She was one-of-a-kind and will be greatly missed by all of us and her treasured listeners.”


Comedian Paul O’Grady also said he was “gutted” to hear of the radio DJ’s death as he posted a post of her smiling to Instagram.

He wrote: “She was the first woman to present Top of the Pops and a legendary presenter on Radio, a medium that she was passionate about.

“I used to love listening to her on late night Radio 2 particularly when I was writing books as she was such good company and kept me going.”

Scottish singer Midge Ure, who co-organised Live Aid with Bob Geldof, also reflected on memories with Long at the benefit concert.

He said: “Dreadful news. Janice stood with us on the pitch at Wembley stadium as we announced Live Aid. A broadcast legend and absolute music lover.”

BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce recalled having “such a laugh” with Long while filming Antiques Roadtrip together” and added that she was a “great broadcaster” and “always terrific company”.

Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order and The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess also shared tributes.

Hook said she was “always a great friend and a great supporter of our music” and added: “She was a lovely lady and a pleasure to be around. RIP.”

Burgess, from The Charlatans, praised Long for her support of fledgling bands.

He said on Twitter: “Janice Long was a supporter and mentor for so many bands.

“To hear our records on her show was always the biggest thrill – her enthusiasm and love shone through. One of a kind. Safe travels, we’ll miss ya.”

Pop band Frankie Goes To Hollywood said Long “always had their backs” and credited her with being the first presenter to play and interview the band on the radio.

The Pet Shop Boys also reflected on Long’s early support for their band and said they were “very sad” to hear of her death.

Rock band Doves, singer Billy Bragg and Reverend Richard Coles, who was part of the pop duo the Communards, also remembered the radio DJ for helping to launch their music careers.

Her agent Nigel Forsyth said in a statement: “Janice was a wonderful, warm human being and exceptional broadcaster.

“She told a brilliant story and always made you roar with laughter with her sharp wit. She will leave behind her husband Paul and two children, who she thought the world of.

“Janice loved the BBC and started her career as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside in 1979, to complete it with the magnificent people at BBC Radio Wales.

“Janice wanted it known she was so thankful to the NHS and all who looked after her there.”

Janice's family, meanwhile, have paid tribute to a “loving” and “inspirational” woman. 

Her husband Paul Berry said: “I’ve lost the love of my life and I’m going to spend the rest of it half a person.

“She had my back from the day we met, you couldn’t possibly ask for more love and loyalty from a wife.”

Long and Berry, who were married in 2017 but were together for many years prior, shared two children, Blue, 25 and Fred, 33.

Across a 40-year career, she hosted slots on flagship stations such as BBC Radio 1, helped launch the careers of artists including Amy Winehouse and led coverage of major music events such as Live Aid.

Her daughter Blue praised her mother for forging a path for women in the media industry, saying: “Mum I love you. You paved the way for me to have an incredible life.

“You were a trailblazer for so many women to go conquer and succeed.

“The first woman to host Top of the Pops and the first woman to have her own daily show on Radio 1.

“You have shown me that anything is possible and to never stop fighting for what you want and deserve.”

While her son Fred referred to his mother as an “absolute G”, adding: “She wasn’t only a mum to me but a whole bunch of my friends that she took in and cared for and I’ll never forget everything she has done for me.

“She inspired me to be what I want and told me never to settle for anything less.”

Janice's father Collin also said: “I’ve not only lost a daughter but a true friend that I’ll never forget.”

Long was an early supporter of future stars such as The Smiths, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Primal Scream, Adele, Amy Macdonald and Winehouse, and was awarded a Basca gold badge of merit for her outstanding contribution to music, a forerunner of The Ivors Academy.

Since 2017, she had hosted the evening show on BBC Radio Wales and she also presented on Greatest Hits Radio for a Saturday afternoon slot.