Tony Blackburn has led tributes to “legendary broadcaster” Sir Jimmy Young who has died at the age of 95.
Sir Jimmy, who spent almost three decades at BBC Radio 2, was the voice of the station, Tony said, adding that he was “proud to know Jimmy and call him a friend”.
“I interviewed him just a couple of years ago and, although he was in his early 90s then, his mind was as sharp as ever. 2016 has been a terrible year for losing iconic figures from our youth. Today we lost another.”
His words were echoed by Jeremy Vine, who took over Sir Jimmy’s radio show in January 2003. He told the Press Association: “Jimmy’s most remarkable achievement was to understand the listener was at the heart of his show.
“The listener ranked equally with the politician and he, in a strange way, started the whole business of getting listener interaction on his show in a way we see now all programmes doing. He did it first in the 70s.”
He also praised Sir Jimmy’s “longevity” and “stamina” as a presenter, saying: “To do 29 years on Radio 2 and to still be on air for 10 hours a week, live, at the age of 82 is unprecedented.”
Sir Jimmy interviewed each prime minister of the day during his time at the station, which Jeremy said was because he “stood out a mile as a different kind of interviewer and I think the politicians liked that”.
“You wouldn’t get blindsided on the Jimmy Young show – you’d be treated in an honest and open way as an interviewee.”
Jeremy, who never met Sir Jimmy, added: “I wish I’d been able to thank him personally but I’m very grateful to him for the show he created because it’s still going great guns because of the thing he built. The show I do is the one he built, basically.”
The BBC’s director general Tony Hall described Sir Jimmy as a “true broadcasting pioneer” who “defined Radio 2″.
“He will be dearly missed by his many fans.”
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio, said: “Sir Jimmy Young was a truly unique broadcaster who pioneered a form of presenting that generations have followed. He made current affairs relevant to millions of listeners and helped shape Radio 2 into the station it is today.”
Others paid tribute on Twitter, including Radio 2 broadcaster Ken Bruce.
“So very sad to hear about the death of my old friend Sir Jimmy Young. One of the most able broadcasters I ever worked with.”
So very sad to hear about the death of my old friend Sir Jimmy Young. One of the most able broadcasters I ever worked with.— Ken Bruce (@RealKenBruce) November 7, 2016
Much respect to Sir Jimmy Young who died today, aged 95. The word 'legend' is overused, but not in his case. A true icon of radio.— Iain Dale (@IainDale) November 7, 2016
#Jimmy Young's died.So sad. Such memories from my childhood and teens.I loved his versions of The Man From Laramie and Unchained Melody— Tony Robinson (@Tony_Robinson) November 7, 2016
And Piers Morgan wrote: “RIP Sir Jimmy Young, 95. Another giant of British broadcasting dies just months after his great friend & colleague Terry Wogan.”