Longtime BBC Radio presenter Roger Bennett passes away

MUMBAI: BBC Radio's longstanding presenter Roger Bennett passed away a couple of days ago. The 69 year old had worked with BBC Radio Bristol since its inception in 1970.     

In his years presenting Morning West he received many awards and became the longest serving breakfast presenter on British radio. He won the prestigious Sony Radio Presenter of the Year in 1983; was voted Local Broadcaster of the Year in 1994; and in 1998, was honoured with a Sony Gold Achievement award for his dedication to local radio.

He once said, "To me, local radio is an end in itself. I enjoy it as much now as I did when we set up Radio Bristol in 1970. For me it's better than ever." However his proudest moment came when Bristol University presented him with an honorary Masters degree in July 1997. "I was astounded when I heard about the degree but I'm very honoured. It makes it worthwhile getting up at 4.30 every morning for the past 23 years. And it's an award for BBC local radio too".

BBC Radio Bristol's managing editor, Jenny Lacey paid tribute to Bennett saying, "Roger was first and foremost a much-loved member of staff and we will miss him terribly - as will his countless listeners and fans across Bristol. He was a superb journalist who was able to get to the heart of any story, while still being unfailingly courteous to every one of his interviewees. He was very much admired by listeners, who saw him as epitomising everything that Radio Bristol stood for. He had a real passion for his beloved native city and a completely encyclopaedic knowledge of its highways, byways and history. All of us here express our sincere condolences to Roger's wife, family and friends. He was truly inimitable."

The BBC says that Bennett had always been at the heart of local news, following his father into journalism at the Bristol Evening Post and at one stage becoming Britain's only known TV columnist to not own a television set. After 17 years as a print journalist Bennett joined the BBC's inaugural local news team for Radio Bristol in 1970. Here he began working on Morning West, where - with Michael Buerk as presenter and Kate Adie reporting from the radio car - Roger took to the skies in a spotter plane, keeping listeners advised about traffic conditions.

In 1974, he became the main presenter, a position which he remained until his retirement in 2003. Since then Bennett continued to work for Radio Bristol in a freelance capacity and ever the consummate professional - despite being treated for cancer.

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