Who is taking over from Steve Wright? DJ ends Steve Wright in the Afternoon - how will Radio 2 schedule change
Steve Wright in the Afternoon has ended after 23 years, with the radio host thanking listeners in an emotional farewell
It follows a major reshuffle of some of the broadcasting corporation’s biggest radio slots over the past 18 months, particularly at flagship station BBC Radio 1 where Annie Mac, Nick Grimshaw and Scott Mills have all departed.
So, why has Steve Wright left his BBC Radio 2 show - and who will replace him in the schedule?
Who is Steve Wright?
Steve Wright is a radio DJ from London. Born into a working class family in Greenwich, he joined the line up at BBC Radio 1 in 1980 where he initially held slots on a Saturday before launching Steve Wright in the Afternoon in 1981.
The show ran until 1993, with Wright taking over the legendary Radio 1 Breakfast show in 1994. His stint there lasted for 15-months before a disagreement with the network’s management led to his departure.
In 1996, after a brief stint at commercial station Talk Radio, Wright joined BBC Radio 2. He initially held a Saturday morning slot and presented the station’s Sunday Love Songs programme - a show he will continue to host.
Three years’ later, he was able to resurrect Steve Wright in the Afternoon, which soon became a major hit for BBC Radio 2. Alongside regular sidekicks Tim Smith, Janey Lee Grace and Bobbie ‘Travel’ Pryor, Wright introduced features like Serious Jockin’ (with no ‘g’) and factoids.
Wright’s show would play chart hits from the 1960s through to the present day and had a cheeky, upbeat tone.
He would interview high-profile guests from the worlds of music, TV, film and literature. Indeed, his last show contained interviews with Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie.
Wright’s shows were renowned for their slick editing, with all ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ cut from pre-recorded interviews and key segments having to be as close to perfect as possible to get his seal of approval.
In this pursuit of perfection, the DJ would regularly arrive at BBC Radio 2’s HQ at 9am to spend the next five hours pre-recording interviews and segments for his shows. On most days, he would not leave the station until well after his show had finished at 5pm.
While known to have an approachable and amiable manner in the halls of Wogan House, little is known about Steve Wright’s personal life. He ranked fourth in the most recent list of the BBC’s highest paid stars, with an annual salary of between £450,000 to £454,999.
Why did Steve Wright leave his BBC Radio 2 show?
Steve Wright signed off from his final afternoon programme on Friday 30 September. It had been announced in July that the long-running show would be coming to an end - although Wright will continue presenting Sunday Love Songs, seasonal specials and a new Serious Jockin’ podcast from November.
When announcing his show was coming to an end, the veteran DJ said he had been informed the the head of Radio 2 Helen Thomas that the station wanted to do “something different” in the afternoon timeslot.
During his final show, Steve Wright thanked his listeners for lending their ears to his programme over the years: “Thank you if you’ve ever seen your way to listening to us over 23 years at any time. Thank you, thank you and thank you again.”
He added: “Corny though it sounds, I quite like the way that we’ve all helped each other get through some of our ongoing problems together - the pandemic, the financial downturns, the ups and downs of life in the UK. Sometimes it’s been very difficult for everybody.
“[We] tried on this programme to bring just a little bit of light relief, a good genuine atmosphere, uplifting tunes, good conversation, a little bit of satire. We tried to make the show unique and just be good company. I can only hope that we’ve done that some of the time.
“I’m also really aware there are more things to think about than a radio show ending so I don’t want to be too self indulgent.”
Who will replace Steve Wright?
Steve Wright’s afternoon slot is set to be taken over by former Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills. Mills, 49, hung up his microphone on his long-running afternoon show in August after 24 years at BBC Radio 1.
The former Official Chart Show host has previously been a stand-in for Steve Wright in the Afternoon and Ken Bruce’s mid-morning BBC Radio 2 slot when the pair have been away.
His arrival will also see a change in the schedules, with the afternoon slot now set to run from the end of the Jeremy Vine Show at 2pm until 4pm. What used to be the final hour of Steve Wright in the Afternoon will now become part of Sara Cox’s drivetime show.
Scott Mills has confirmed on Twitter that he will start his new show on Monday 31 October. He jokingly said that BBC Radio 2 bosses had decided to hand him the show on Halloween to “scare me even more”.
In the meantime, the afternoon slot is being covered by OJ Borg. Other hosts who have previously covered for Steve Wright, like Craig Charles, may also stand in.