John Dunn (radio presenter)
John Churchill Dunn
4 March 1934
|Died||27 November 2004 (aged 70)|
|Other names||Long John|
John Churchill Dunn (4 March 1934 – 27 November 2004) was a British disc jockey and radio presenter who was best known for hosting the weekday drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 between 1976 and 1998. He was also known as "Long John" Dunn on account of his height.
Dunn was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
Dunn's career spanned more than 30 years and he was named Radio Personality of the Year three times. Dunn started his broadcasting career in the RAF, before he joined the BBC External Service in 1956 as a studio manager. He then became an announcer for domestic BBC Radio in the 1960s, famously stating "Here is the news – in English" after Emperor Rosko's first show on the first day of BBC Radio 1 in 1967.
Dunn became the regular presenter of Radio 2's Breakfast Special with the start of the new networks, but in 1972 he effectively swapped places with Terry Wogan – Wogan taking over the breakfast show, whilst Dunn moved to the 3 pm to 5 pm afternoon slot The Dunn Thing. This did not last too long, and in 1974 Dunn spent a year presenting Late Night Extra. In the mid-1970s, Dunn briefly returned to his previous role as an announcer and newsreader, but he moved to his long running drive time Radio 2 programme in 1976. Its time slot varied – initially it ran from 4:45-6:45 pm, for a while it ran from 6 pm to 8 pm, but in April 1986 it was moved to 5 pm to 7 pm.
After guesting on his drivetime show, writer/broadcaster Terence Pettigrew reversed their roles by inviting Dunn onto his BBC Radio 2 programme Caught in the Draft, a documentary about compulsory national service, which had originated during the Second World War and ended at the beginning of the 1960s. Like Pettigrew, Dunn had been conscripted, and begun his broadcasting career while in the forces. They were joined by other "old sweats", including presenter Michael Aspel, comedian Bob Monkhouse and Leslie Thomas (author of The Virgin Soldiers). The programme was produced by Harry Thompson, who later found fame as the originator and long-time producer of BBC TV's award-winning Have I Got News for You.
From 1972 to 1975, Dunn also presented the Radio 4 children's programme Fourth Dimension. This was a magazine programme comprising a mixture of documentary features, drama series and stories. In 1979 John provided the BBC TV commentary at the Eurovision Song Contest, held that year in Jerusalem, and was the commentator for the United Kingdom.
Dunn made radio history in 1996 when he presented his show live from Antarctica.
He remained in the early evenings until his last show on 2 October 1998, when he announced that he was retiring and that Johnnie Walker was to be taking over the show. (Walker had been a stand-in presenter for Dunn during 1997 and early 1998). From then on, he still continued to present documentaries for the network, as well as editions of Friday Night is Music Night.
Awards and honours
In 1998, John Dunn was awarded a Gold Sony Radio Award for the best drivetime music programme.
- "BBC – Radio 2 – John Dunn dies".
- Radio Times listing for 10 November 1987
- BBC Programme Listings – BBC Radio 1 2 October 1998
- "Radio 2 DJ John Dunn dies", BBC News Online,
- Obituary: "John Dunn, Affable voice of BBC Radio 2", The Independent, 30 November 2004.