I’ve dedicated the Alcohol Free Life podcast on the week of Steve’s passing to a tribute to my friend and ‘boss’ for 24 years

The irony was not lost on me…Tuesday 13 Feb was World Radio Day and I was responding to some comments on my social media post about just how much I miss being on Steve Wright in the afternoon, our show ended late 2022 and for someone addicted to radio (it is indeed addictive) its been a tough adjustment.  A message pinged into my inbox followed by several more,….and I flicked over to a news page only to recoil in horror.

‘Steve Wright, legendary broadcaster had died suddenly aged 69’

What a shock, and a devastating loss.  I had a massive weep, and rang my former co-host Tim Smith and then I had to get my act together to appear on Sky News to pay tribute.  The next day or so saw me on various radio stations and Good Morning Britain alongside Tony Blackburn to share thoughts about Steve, and what he meant to us.

One of the comments on my social media said:

‘He was the sound of my life’

I couldn’t have put it better, I loved Steve Wright growing up, as a wannabee pop star I attended Radio 1 road shows and when Cola Boy (my five minutes of fame) hit number 8 in the pop charts, I was really disappointed not to meet him on Top of the Pops.

I was working as a presenter at Virgin Radio when I heard about a possible opportunity at BBC Radio 2, they were looking for someone to temporarily cover the early hours Saturday morning slot, and via a producer colleague, I knocked up a demo and sent it off.  I was thrilled to bits when I got the gig, but knew I wouldn’t be able to stay at Virgin Radio, as they saw it as a conflict of interest.   So what to do with the rest of the week?

I was invited to a Radio 2 party, and a colleague pointed out Steve, and said:  Did you know Wrighty is starting a show on BBC Radio 2, weekday afternoons’  I mustered some ‘front’ from somewhere, went and introduced myself and said…If you want a co-host, I’m your gal!’  He laughed and said, I like your cheek, come and audition.’  I did, and the rest is history.

In case you are not from the UK, Steve really was a legend in broadcasting. renowned for his long-standing career in radio, he has left an indelible mark on the industry and the hearts of his listeners.  Steve Wright’s charisma is often cited as one of his most memorable traits.  We all loved him for his timeless wit and humour, He was very relatable, with lots of clever one-liners and playful interactions with callers, and he kept audiences entertained for decades.

He was innovative, and initiated the ‘zoo’ format in radio.  Lots of recent tributes from celebrities said that he was the reason they worked in TV and Radio.  He was doing it for 40 years, and he lived and breathed radio.  I’ve never met anyone in radio so hard working, and he was something of a perfectionist. He was always so relatable, he wanted to be across the zeitgeist and he kept everyone entertained –  from the truck driver, the parents on the school run, the factory workers…. my old mum in her care home.   Steve was funny, both on and off air, I remember one day when Dr Hilary came into the studio, it was his birthday and somehow Wrighty had managed to hide his gift till we went on air… it was a full size ‘skellington’!

Being a co-host on Steve Wright in the afternoon changed my life in so many ways, I had young children and was sharing stuff about my growing passion for holistic living, organic food, skincare without chemicals et al and a publisher heard me and offered me a publishing deal.  Imperfectly Natural Woman was published in 2006 and I had a ‘second’ career/  I was grateful that i called it ‘imperfectly’ natural, as of course I was for all those years, stepping around the v un-holistic elephant in the room that was alcohol.  Of course I tried to stop, but I was literally caught in the alcohol trap.

My ‘saviour’ came in the form of a guest on the show.  Usually if we are interviewing an author we are lucky to get their book a day before, but Xmas 2017 I was handed a copy of The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley, because she was coming in to the show early Jan…‘You’ve got two weeks to look at this’ our producer said.  I just KNEW.  The lightbulb came on, Clare was so relatable and basically described me, functioning but drinking way too much, waking at 3am and hating mysefl.  If stopped on Dec 30, and then told Clare when she came in, that I was doing Dry Jan…‘Keep going’ she said, ‘Here is my number.’

I never looked back,  It was wonderful for Clare to be on our show too, and later I got Catherine Gray on the show author of the Unexpected joy of being sober, lots of Sober Club members and podcast listeners have said that hearing Clare or Catherine talking about sobriety on mainstream radio got them started!

When the show came to an end Sept 2022 I can’t pretend we weren’t all more than a little heartbroken.  It really was the end of an era, and there was a huge outpouring of love for the show, and lots of people encouraging the BBC to rethink their decision!

In this podcast I share some thoughts on grief, and how none of us know how long we have got left!  They used to say we’d have ‘3 score and 10’ (70 years) Of course most of us hope for 20 or 30 more, but poor Steve only made it to 69, but once we recognise how precious our time is, we have to stop procrastinating and do what we love.  If you’re caught in the alcohol trap, don’t wait till the holiday is over, or the kids leave home, quit now!  If you’ve been wanting to start a new career, write a book, travel….do it NOW!

It all comes down to feeling ok about yourself, authenticity, self love, call it what you will, and that’s tough when you’re over drinking.  Ask yourself: ‘Could my life be better physically and emotionally without booze?’ If the answer is ‘Hell Yes!’ Quit, Trust me, life is better without!

RIP Steve.  You will be missed.

Janey offers 1-1 coaching, I train people to be sobriety / wellbeing coaches and run The Sober ClubJoin us for connection, inspiration and accountability




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