THE BLOG

Sir Terry Wogan: A Radio Legend and Why

31/01/2016 15:49 GMT | Updated 31/01/2017 10:12 GMT

There will be many more personal and articulate tributes written to Sir Terry Wogan than this I am sure. But as a lover of radio, it seems right to explore what made Sir Terry so outstanding as a broadcaster. I grew up with Wogan the TV show. It was a must watch in the 80s, getting an insight into the personalities and celebrities of the day, with gently pressing interviews. It wasn't until my adult life and his later stint on the Radio 2 breakfast show, that I recognised his talents in the medium that I treasure.

His famous answer to being asked about the millions of listeners he had, was to say he had one listener. There in a single answer, a short sentence, is why Sir Terry Wogan was so good at radio. He made each listener feel like it was they that he was talking to. Radio has always been about developing a relationship with one person, working on that special connection and developing it. To talk about this as a skill is a lot easier than actually doing it. You have to be warm and sincere and too often the personality of the presenter takes over and the listener is forgotten. That old adage of, if you're having fun on the radio so is your listener, does not always work. In fact it often doesn't. Terry Wogan never let his personality become the focus.

In fact, he became a pioneer for the audience to take control of the show. Long before Twitter and email had taken hold, he was effectively giving up his 'links' to those listening. Much of the humour and insight came from those taking part in the show from their kitchens, cars or beds. They controlled the agenda, the focus for jokes. That is not being lazy, it was extremely clever and at the heart of what made his radio programme so powerful and so enjoyable. I remember reluctantly listening when I first moved in with my wife, claiming he was too old for me. But before long, I was chuckling along with everyone else.

These days it has become the cliche to use listener content - "give us your thoughts on social media" etc - but Terry Wogan did it with class. He never excluded people listening, he invited each and everyone of us to take part.

I would say the biggest tribute I can pay to Terry Wogan, is to repeat my claim of the last few years, that his departure from Radio 2's breakfast show left a chasm that no station has been able to fill. Sure, Chris Evans' figures have remained strong in comparison to Wogan's, but his frenetic show is a million miles away from the wonderfully leisurely and personal experience his predecessor produced. Many people miss that style of breakfast show - and there is nothing on UK radio waves really targeted in the same way. Let's hope there are talented presenters coming through that took onboard some of Sir Terry Wogan's wonderful skills.