Janice Long, best known as a presenter on Radio 1, Radio 2, Top of the Pops and most recently on Radio Wales has died after a short illness at home on Christmas Day with her family, her agent has confirmed. She was 66 years old.
Janice Long became a household name when she joined BBC Radio 1 in 1983. Following time as cabin crew and in telesales, Janice became a station assistant at BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool in 1979. Shortly afterwards she started presenting her own show Streetlife for the station on Sunday evenings, focusing on local bands in the thriving Liverpool music scene. Frankie Goes to Hollywood did their first radio session for her show.
When she joined Radio 1 in 1983, she was the first female to have her own daily show on the station and later became the first woman to be a regular presenter of Top of the Pops where she hosted the show for five years. She was also one of the main presenters of the epic Live Aid concert in 1985.
Since 2017, Janice hosted the evening show on BBC Radio Wales. She also hosted A Long Walk with… Janice Long, which was first broadcast in August 2017 on BBC Radio 2.
In between her journey from Radio 1 to Radio 2, Janice also presented the Dream Ticket for BBC 6 Music, the GLR breakfast show and XFM breakfast show.
Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC says, “Janice Long was a stellar presenter, who was loved and respected across the industry and her passing is a huge loss to music, broadcasting and the BBC.
“Over 40 years she blazed a trail across Radio 1, Top of the Pops, Radio 2 and 6 Music to name just a few, before building a wonderful show and loyal following on BBC Radio Wales. She will be missed by her fans, listeners and colleagues.
“All our thoughts are with them, Janice’s family and her friends.”
Her agent, Nigel Forsyth, adds, “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.“
Lorna Clarke, Controller, Pop Music for the BBC says, “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.”
Colin Paterson, Head of BBC Radio Wales says, “As a radio presenter her programmes were never about herself. For Janice, her broadcasting career was an opportunity to discover, share and champion music. There are few people who have done more to nurture new talent from music and the arts. She brought her passion for music to Radio Wales in 2017, supporting Welsh artists and Welsh language music ever since. We’ll miss her passion, her knowledge and her laugh. Our thoughts are with her many friends and her family who meant so much to her.”
Janice’s dedication to promoting new talent was recognized when she was presented with the lifetime achievement award at The Liverpool Music Awards with for her outstanding contribution to the music industry. Other bands & artists she has given a first break to include The Smiths, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Primal Scream, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Amy Macdonald, Boy Azooga, Rachel K Collier and Richard Hawley.
Janice Long was awarded a BASCA Gold badge of merit for her outstanding contribution to music and, this year, was awarded an honorary doctorate for Music and Art by Edge Hill University. Janice Long also had her photograph portrait hung in the Royal College of Art as part of an exhibition celebrating woman pioneers, alongside Dame Shirley Williams, Betty Boothroyd and Nicola Adams.
Janice was a patron of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), founded by Paul McCartney, and a judge for the Mercury Music Awards.
Acting was the dream for Janice during her early years. She was a member of Merseyside Youth Drama and acted leading roles alongside Sue Jenkins and Dean Sullivan. But when life took a different turn and she promised herself she would return to it when she was older. She recently appeared in a BBC Radio 4 play written by Roy Boulter and Louise Wener where Janice played herself alongside Joe Absalom.
Image credit: BBC