Interview for BBC Radio 2 • Sunday, January 23, 2022

Janice Long: A Life In Music

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
BBC Radio 2
Interview by:
Zoe Ball
Read interview on BBC Radio 2
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Interview

In January 2022, Paul McCartney contributed a vocal message for a tribute to English broadcaster Janice Long by BBC Radio 2.


I was very sad to hear that my old Liverpudlian friend Janice Long has passed away. Janice was a fun-loving lady and she always had a twinkle in her eye. And if you talk about music, she was always very knowledgeable and she loved it. So whenever we met, it was a great pleasure and we would always have a real good laugh. So my sympathy goes out to her family and friends. We’ve all lost a great Scouse girl, but I will always have fun memories of her and of the time we spent together. Love you, Janice.

Paul McCartney

From BBC Radio 2 – Janice Long: A Life In Music:

Zoe Ball pays tribute to Janice with her family, friends, colleagues from BBC Radio1, Radio 2, Radio Merseyside, GLR, Radio Wales and big names from the music world she supported. Sir Paul McCartney describes the twinkle in her eye and Noddy and Suzan Holder describe the help and support she gave to students at LIPA.

Janice Long started her trail blazing radio career in 1979 as an assistant and then the much respected presenter of ‘Streetlife’ on Radio Merseyside with a budget of £10. The actor David Morrissey remembers visiting her on air when he was a new member of the Liverpool Everyman theatre and Holly Johnson describes the start of a lifelong friendship when she became the first person in the world to interview Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Jane Garvey remembers going up to her room and shutting herself away from her family for special times listening to Janice on Streetlife. It gave Jane hope that it wasn’t impossible for young woman to get into radio. She also talks about Janice taking things seriously, but wearing her expertise lightly and gaining respect from musicians.

Janice was then recruited to Radio 1 from 1982-1987, after Paul Gambaccini recommended her as the best interviewer he had encountered on a nationwide book tour. Janice continued to rewrite the record books when she was the first woman to be given a national daily show and fellow Radio 1 pioneer Annie Nightingale remembers Janice making her mark as the first female presenter of Top Of The Pops, in an often hilarious partnership with her friend John Peel.

Andy McCluskey of OMD talks about Janice, live on Top Of The Pops, shouting across the studio “tuck in your shirt, McCluskey” and always hunting for new music in the Liverpool venues and clubs when they were both starting out on their careers. Adam Clayton of U2 thanks Janice for her support and for introducing one of their first performances of Top Of The Pops.

Steve Wright remembers Janice often just popping in to his afternoon show and making him laugh. He regards Janice as the kindest, most relatable and natural person. Tina Campbell read the news for Janice when she co-presented the GLR Breakfast show and worked with her at Radio 1 and 2.

We will hear about Janice wrapping her arm literally and metaphorically around new radio recruits and inviting hard up musicians to stay in her spare room after a gig. Sara Cox remembers Janice welcoming her into the Radio 2 studios when she first covered for Alex Lester. Chris Hawkins treasures her 20 minute programme handovers.

Sean Dixon of The Soup Dragons says her name appearing on his phone screen, through thick and thin, meant he was in for a wonderful chat. Pete Wylie talks about a heart as big as Liverpool and the fact that Janice was ultra-professional – not, by her own admission, slick, but always in the moment – listening eagerly to the latest releases and the classics and most importantly every answer in a well-researched interview. She was the soundtrack to his life.

Nell Bryden recorded her first session with Janice, who she tells us was the David Bowie of DJs, only funnier and that she marched to the beat of her own drum and became an “instant hang” both on and off air for her.

Writer and broadcaster Pete Paphides remembers Janice being like a big sister sharing her record collection in the room and a vital aid to procrastination when he was supposed to be doing his homework. He loved the fact that musical correctness had no place in her shows – she didn’t care if an artist or act was cool or uncool – it was just something she liked and wanted to share.

Carol Kirkwood says the nightly Radio 2 weather forecasts were the highlight of the week and jokes that she laughed so much she thought she might lose her job.

Elvis Costello talks about Janice, more recently, coping with technical difficulties and still conducting a masterclass in interviewing on BBC Radio Wales.

Brian Nash, formerly of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, is now a Funeral Celebrant in Liverpool and conducted Janice’s funeral and wake. He talks of Janice as being a legend who is known to all the musicians and songwriters in Liverpool by just one name – Janice – there are lots of people who share the name, but these artists only meant one person when they talked of Janice.

We will also highlight Janice’s sense of mischief and irreverence and her support for so many musicians, giving the first airtime and sessions to many who are now huge stars, such as Adele, The Smiths, Primal Scream, Amy Winehouse and the Manic Street Preachers. Her enthusiasm for brand new artists was unparalleled.

Other contributors will include Fi Glover, Richard Hawley, Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds, Sandie Shaw, Jack Savoretti, Peter Hook formerly of New Order, Jo Whiley, Greg James, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Gary Numan, Maggie Philbin, Bob Harris and Adam Walton of BBC Radio Wales.

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