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Stuart Linnell MBE is a UK radio and television broadcaster who is particularly well known in the Coventry and Warwickshire area and also in Northamptonshire. He presents the daily (Monday-Friday) Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Northampton, having previously presented the station's lunch show. Linnell also hosts the Sky Blues Live football show, and from time to time other shows, on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.
He was part of the on-air team at the launch of Radio Hallam in Sheffield, was involved with Coventry based Mercia Sound for 15 years, and also presented the breakfast shows at both BBC Coventry & Warwickshire and BBC WM (which serves Birmingham and the wider West Midlands).
After a few years as a volunteer contributor to the Birmingham Hospital Broadcasting Network (BHBN), Stuart Linnell started his professional broadcasting career with BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970, before moving to the UK's then developing commercial radio network with the launch of Radio Hallam in Sheffield in 1974.
He spent six years at Radio Hallam as the station's Sports Editor, hosting all the station's main sports programmes and commentating on many major fixtures including football, cricket, boxing and speedway, and also snooker from the World Championship tournaments at the Crucible Theatre. He also presented other, non-sports shows at Radio Hallam, and during his time in Sheffield Linnell also appeared from time to time on the regional ITV station Yorkshire Television).
In 1980 Stuart was part of the launch team at Coventry's Mercia Sound. He stayed at Mercia for 15 years, initially as Sports Editor hosting the station's sports programmes and commentating on various sporting fixtures. He was also the weekday afternoon show presenter, before going on to be Mercia's Managing Director and Programme Controller. In that time, as Mercia became part of a group of radio stations across the Midlands, he also worked for BRMB in Birmingham, RAM FM in Derby and Leicester Sound.
Stuart then spent some years freelancing for radio and TV stations broadcasting to the UK and to Ireland, and worked for a short time with the ill-fated commercial radio group Laser Broadcasting, before returning to front-line presenting on BBC local radio in 2009. Since then he has presented programmes for BBC Radio Derby, BBC Oxford and BBC Hereford & Worcester, and he now hosts the weekday Breakfast Show for BBC Radio Northampton. He can also be heard regularly on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.
On television, Stuart has presented the Saturday evening edition of Midlands Today on BBC One, and the Sunday lunchtime TV programme 'The Midlands At Westminster' (the forerunner to The Politics Show) on BBC Two.
He has worked for the UK national radio stations BBC Radio Five Live and TalkSport, and for the Irish national commercial station Today FM. He has also been a reporter for the TV stations Sky Sports News and Setanta Sports.
Alongside his broadcasting career, Stuart is a conference moderator and facilitator and he also hosts awards events and black-tie functions.
On 1 June 2007, Stuart was the MC for the unveiling of a statue by Faith Winter of Sir Frank Whittle, the Coventry born jet pioneer. The statue is situated under the Whittle Arch, near to Coventry city centre. It was unveiled by Sir Frank's son, Ian Whittle. It shows Whittle at RAF Cranwell in May 1941 looking towards the sky to observe the first test flight of a Whittle-powered Gloster E.28/39.
In 2008, Stuart stepped down after two years as Chairman of the Coventry Branch of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. He is a former member of the Chamber's main board.
Honours & Awards
Stuart was made an MBE for services to broadcasting in 1995. He received his medal from Her Majesty the Queen at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
He won three Sony Radio Academy Awards – the most coveted awards in UK radio – one of them the Gold Award for the UK’s best speech-based Breakfast Show in 1997. His BBC WM Breakfast Show won Silver and Gold Sony's in successive years (1996 and 1997). At the International Radio Festival of New York Stuart received Gold and Bronze awards for the programme formats of Mercia Sound and Leicester Sound.
In 1999, he received an Honorary MA from Coventry University in recognition of his work as a broadcaster and for his services to the community in Coventry and Warwickshire. At the end of 2007 he graduated with a BA Honours in Humanities with Literature after six years study with the Open University.
In 2010, his Sunday Breakfast Show on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire received a Merit Award in the Sandford St Martin Trust Religious Radio Awards for a series called "Dear God" in which listeners were invited to send in their messages to God, some of which were broadcast on air. They ranged from the upbeat to the loneliness of bereavement and were pinned to a board displayed first at the radio station and later in Coventry Cathedral. Stuart's Sunday Breakfast Show was also a finalist in the 2012 Jerusalem Awards for its "Rev's Records" feature in which faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Coventry, chose some of their favourite music.
1987 FA Cup Final
While Managing Director and Programme Controller of Mercia Sound in the late 1980s, Linnell continued to broadcast and was a member of the Mercia Sound reporting and commentary team during Coventry City's FA Cup run in 1987. The run culminated in Coventry City beating Tottenham Hotspur 3–2 in the Final at Wembley Stadium.
Mercia Sound produced two cassette recordings of their coverage of the semi-final, v. Leeds United at Hillsborough, and of the Final. Both sold out and many have been kept as momentos by Coventry City supporters.
The "Dan, Dan, Dan" Call
During an edition of the "Sky Blue Live" programme on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire in February 2013, Stuart took a call from a Coventry City supporter who had left that night's match (at Crewe) two minutes before the end and had missed seeing Coventry score two late goals to win 2-nil. The fan's disbelief when Stuart corrected his understanding that his team had failed to score, with Stuart trying to interrupt him by repeating his name ("Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan...", etc...), saw an audio clip of the call go viral, reaching a world-wide audience via Audioboo, YouTube, the BBC's main website and the online editions of several newspapers.
The story was included on page 3 of The Sun newspaper and the clip has been re-broadcast on many radio & TV stations round the word, including the BBC national stations, BBC Radio 1, Radio 2 and BBC Radio 5 Live. It was also included on Football Focus (BBC1) and Soccer AM (Sky Sports) TV shows.
Stuart's voice was heard at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
One of Stuart's colleagues at BBC Radio Northampton, journalist Martin Borley-Cox, directed the one-act play "Another Fine Mess", for White Cobra Productions. Martin invited Stuart to record the role of the radio DJ, heard immediately prior to the start of the play.
With the story, about a Laurel and Hardy tribute act with a troubled relationship, set in the 1980s, Stuart set the scene by playing a string of 80s hit records. Between each track, Stuart referred to people and events relevant to the era.
During 2016 the production was staged in theatres at Northampton, Warwick, Chester, Whitstable, Hastings, Market Harborough and Bedford, in that order, prior to a week at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Stuart Linnell attended Kings Heath High School and Kings Norton Grammar School for Boys (now Kings Norton Boys' School), both in Birmingham. He later studied at Matthew Boulton Technical College (now part of Birmingham Metropolitan College) and the Open University.
Rather than reporting the news, Linnell found himself making it on Thursday, 16 January 2014. On his way to work at BBC Radio Northampton at around 5.30 am, he was knocked over by a police car while crossing the road near Northampton town centre. Taken to Northampton General Hospital A&E Department, Linnell tweeted "Didn't expect to start the day in A&E! But then I didn't expect to be knocked over by a police car!"
His accident received widespread media attention. Although still recovering, Linnell was back on air the following week, telling followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook, that while he had returned to work his injuries would take some time to heal.
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