Death – Janice Long obituary | Radio

Death – Obituary

The DJ Janice Long, who has died aged 66 following a short illness, became a pioneer in broadcasting as the first woman to have her own weekday show on BBC Radio 1 and the first to become a regular presenter of Top of the Pops.

Unlike some of the prominent DJs with whom she shared the airwaves during the first part of her career in the 1980s, Long was a genuine music fan, credited with giving a helping hand to a number of artists whom she had championed, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, the Teardrop Explodes, Amy Winehouse and the Coral.

She continued to promote new talent after she had left Radio 1 and Top of the Pops in the late 80s, hosting a long-running breakfast show on Radio 2, from 2000, and working for a variety of other stations, including Radio 6 Music, XFM and her own co-creation, the Liverpool station Crash FM. Until her death she was broadcasting four nights a week on BBC Radio Wales, as well as on Saturday afternoons on Greatest Hits Radio.

Janice Long, left, with the singer and actor Toyah Willcox in 1985.
Janice Long, left, with the singer and actor Toyah Willcox in 1985. Photograph: Radio Times/Getty Images

Long was born in Liverpool to Margaret (nee Wells) and Colin Chegwin, who encouraged their three children to pursue their interests in stage performance. Keith became a TV presenter and his twin brother, Jeff, went into music promotion. In her teenage years Janice was a member of the Merseyside Youth Drama company, but she began her working life as cabin crew for Laker Airways, followed by stints as a shopworker, insurance clerk and in telesales before marrying Trevor Long in 1977 and moving into broadcasting as a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside two years later.

Soon she was presenting a Sunday evening show, Streetlife, taking a weekly look at the post-punk scene in Liverpool, and in that role she helped Frankie Goes to Hollywood gain wider attention by offering them their first radio appearance. Long was quickly upgraded to her own afternoon show and it was there that she did an interview with the Radio 1 DJ Paul Gambaccini, who was so impressed by her style and knowledge that he recommended her to his bosses.

As a result she joined Radio 1 in late 1982 with a Saturday evening show, and within two years was occupying a much higher profile Monday to Thursday evening slot with the Janice Long programme, on which she presented a mix of new music, interviews and live studio sessions.

Radio 1 had been a bastion of the male DJ from its launch in 1967, and although Annie Nightingale had featured on its airwaves since 1970 with a Sunday evening programme, Long’s promotion to a regular midweek berth was groundbreaking.

Warm, witty and good company – on radio as in life – she aligned herself more to the studious interests of John Peel and David “Kid” Jensen than the happy-go-lucky “Smashie and Nicey” DJ mainstream. She was often paired with either Peel or Jensen on Top of the Pops, and appeared on the programme more than 60 times as the sole female presenter, paving the way for Jackie Brambles, Anthea Turner, Fearne Cotton and Jayne Middlemiss to come in later. In 1985 she was also chosen as one of the main presenters of the BBC’s coverage of the huge Live Aid concert at Wembley.

Janice Long, left, at a press conference for Live Aid in 1985. From left: Adam Ant, Elton John, Bob Geldof, Gary Kemp, Midge Ure and Tony Hadley.
Janice Long, left, at a press conference for Live Aid in 1985. From left: Adam Ant, Elton John, Bob Geldof, Gary Kemp, Midge Ure and Tony Hadley. Photograph: Alan Davidson/Rex/Shutterstock

Long’s successful six-year spell on Radio 1 and Top of the Pops ended in 1988, when she took time off to have a child with her partner, Paul Berry (whom she married in 2017), after a divorce from Trevor in 1982. As was common at the time, no one offered her a way to return.

Instead, in 1989 Long moved on to Greater London Radio (now BBC Radio London), where she presented the daily breakfast show before switching to the weekends. While maintaining her presence there she also took on occasional shows for what was then BBC Radio 5 and established an early behind the scenes connection with one of the new batch of commercial radio stations, the indie-focused XFM.

By 1995 she had gone back to Liverpool to set up an alternative rock and dance station, Crash FM (later Juice FM and now Capital Liverpool) with backing, among others, from Bob Geldof and Boy George. Although she did some presenting work for the station, once it was properly established she returned to the BBC, where from 1999 she presented a three-hour Saturday afternoon show for Radio 2, moving on to become a longstanding weekday breakfast presenter the following year.

While there she also appeared for two years on BBC Radio 6 Music from its launch in 2002, hosting its Dream Ticket programme of new music and studio sessions.

Long was with Radio 2 for 18 years in all, although after almost a decade she was shunted into the post-midnight slot and she eventually left in 2017 to present her own Monday to Thursday evening show on BBC Radio Wales. From 2020 onwards she also fitted in a Saturday afternoon programme on Greatest Hits Radio.

Janice Long on the Lorraine TV show in 2018.
Janice Long on the Lorraine TV show in 2018. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Aside from her prolific radio work, Long also featured on a number of light TV programmes over the years, including game shows, and in 2006 she was called back to co-present the final episode of Top of the Pops after it was decided to bring it to an end.

In 2018 she received an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University in recognition of her commitment to music, and the same year was featured in the Royal College of Art’s First Women UK exhibition, celebrating 100 pioneering 21st century British females. She was also a patron of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

Long is survived by Paul, their daughter, Blue, and son, Fred, her father and her brother, Jeff. Keith died in 2017.

Janice Long, DJ and broadcaster, born 5 April 1955; died 25 December 2021

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject’s life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.