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Janice Long: BBC radio presenter and former Top of the Pops host dies aged 66

BBC radio presenter Janice Long, who was the first regular female host of Top of the Pops, has died after a “short illness” at the age of 66, her agent has announced.

Since 2017, Long had hosted the evening show on BBC Radio Wales.

Nigel Forsyth, her agent, 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.”

During a 40-year career, Long hosted shows across BBC stations including Radio 1 and presenting Top of The Pops on BBC1, as well as the breakfast show on Greater London Radio and XFM.

Lorna Clarke, controller of pop music at the BBC, was among those paying tribute.

She said: “Everyone in pop radio was saddened to hear of the passing of Janice Long.

“She was long admired for her role as a talent spotter and new music champion, giving Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Amy Winehouse their first radio sessions, as well as lighting the way for female radio and TV presenters throughout the industry.

“We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends at this sad time.”

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

“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,” he said.

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

TV presenter Carol Vorderman wrote on Twitter: “Rest In Music lovely vibrant trailblazer Janice Long. Janice is a huge star in our @BBCRadioWales tight knit family.

“As a woman in the industry, I truly admired her as the first woman ever to have a daily show on Radio One @BBCR1. We’re in a state of disbelief to be honest.”

Midge Ure was among the musicians who paid tribute.

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

Other musicians and bands offered condolences and highlighted the role Long played in supporting their music.

Joy Division and New Order’s Peter Hook said: “She was always a great friend and a great supporter of our music. She was a lovely lady and a pleasure to be around. RIP”.

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans noted that “Janice Long was a supporter and mentor for so many bands. To hear our records on her show was always the biggest thrill”.

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

After working as cabin crew and in telesales, Long 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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