Sheffield radio presenter rules the airwarves

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A Sheffield radio presenter has clocked up 30 impressive years on the air by changing with the times but not pretending to be “down with the kids”.

Rony Robinson, 73, from Totley, first landed a daytime slot on BBC Radio Sheffield in 1984 and has retained a show with the station ever since.

Rony Robinson, left, with Coun Peter Rippon, Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Rony Robinson, left, with Coun Peter Rippon, Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Tomorrow marks 30 years since his debut show with co-host Tony Capstick, and earns him the prestigious title of ‘longest serving presenter hosting a weekday programme in the BBC’.

So what is it that’s kept Rony in his broadcasting seat for so long?

He said: “I really enjoy the job - it’s just always so interesting, meeting different people everyday.

“I’ve been offered bits of work here and there over the years but Sheffield is my patch and I wouldn’t want to host anywhere else.

“I’ve come to work with younger people, some young enough to be my grandchildren, and as they learn off me I learn off them - it keeps me in touch with what’s happening.

“My show has changed a lot over the years and I think that’s what’s key to me being with the BBC for so long - I’ve changed with the times but without pretending to be down with the kids.”

Reflecting on his career, Rony said he had been particularly touched by a listener called Bill who had phoned into the show following the death of his wife.

“He obviously wanted to talk to somebody about it and we were among the first people he turned to,” said Rony. “It just demonstrates the connection people can feel to the show.”

“Many listeners then sent letters and cards of support and well wishes, all of which we forwarded onto him.”

So during the past three decades ruling the airwaves what has gone wrong and right for Rony?

“I think every presenter has the dread of not having anything to move onto and having to keep talking until things fall back into place,” said Rony.

“Something usually goes wrong during the show but it’s often nothing too drastic. It’s all about taking the show seriously but having a laugh with it too.

“I’ve been fortunate to meet some fantastic people over the years and have had great conversations with them, both on and off air. The only person I didn’t get to interview that I would have like to is Bob Dylan.”

“For me the most recent show I’ve done is always my current highlight.”

To mark his milestone show, Rony’s BBC colleagues arranged a surprise broadcast at the Town Hall, with Sheffield Lord Mayor Coun Peter Rippon, past and present colleagues, friends and family, all in on the act.

Rony was under the impression he would be interviewing the Lord Mayor but as the interview got underway Coun Rippon revealed the show was in fact to mark the host’s milestone anniversary.

One of Rony’s former co-presenters Jenny Day, then took over the programme to celebrate his career with a host of special guests.

Rony was presented with a bespoke cake, designed by Sheffield baker Rachel Edwards, ahead of a celebratory reception in the Lord Mayor’s office.

“It all came as a huge surprise,” said Rony. “Being praised by these people is so important to me and I know my Dad would have been very proud - he used to record my shows on casette.

“I was once told that I would know when the time was right to retire - I know that time is not yet.”