Veteran Sheffield radio presenter goes off the air as station shakes up schedule during pandemic: ‘It’s goodbye for now’

A veteran Sheffield broadcaster who has been on the airwaves for more than 50 years is hanging up his headphones – as local radio schedules undergo a shake-up brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Gerry Kersey hosts a weekly three-hour show every Sunday afternoon on BBC Radio Sheffield, where he made his first appearance in 1968. Over the decades he has also worked for Radio Hallam - now Hallam FM - for whom he produced 11 shows a week for a spell in the 1980s.

He was to deliver a programme as usual on Sunday, March 22 - but from Monday, March 23, BBC local radio stations across the country are switching to standardised schedules. The move is understood to have been brought in to make it easier to share output if necessary during the Covid-19 outbreak.

"It's not been said to me that it's my last show," said Gerry. "As far as I'm aware it's a temporary arrangement. They've got to cut down, inevitably brought about by the coronavirus. They've changed the system just for now."

Radio Sheffield presenter Gerry Kersey. Picture: Dean Atkins

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    His light-hearted programme consists of music from the 1950s to the 80s, quizzes and stories. Gerry said March 22's edition represented a 'goodbye for now', adding: "If I'm asked to come back, yes, I'm up for it."

    Local radio, he said, will be 'vitally important' throughout the epidemic.

    "It's important to get the messages across, to stay safe and get people to keep doing things. Those who can remember back to World War Two, which I can as a child, will remember there's a similar feeling about now. It was something that was happening that you didn't know when it was going to end, as ordinary individuals."

    Gerry, who is now aged in his 80s, was born in Shiregreen and now lives in Bents Green. He said Sheffield could weather the worst of the outbreak.

    Radio Sheffield presenter Gerry Kersey. Picture: Dean Atkins

    "We're hard-bitten, some of us Sheffielders. But we are fairly good at looking after each other. All the rivalries about football clubs and so on go by the board. We are very good at pulling together, from memories of the Blitz - terrible times, far worse than they are now because there was a lot more damage. This time we've got a war against a tiny thing that you can't see. We've got to do all the right things."

    Gerry added: "We're doing what I've called the 'pavement polka' - when you see someone coming towards you, you do a quick sidestep. I've noticed it. And we talk to each other - but we stay the recommended and required distance."

    His March 22 show will be available to listen to on demand via BBC Sounds following its broadcast.

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    Radio Sheffield presenter Gerry Kersey. Picture: Dean Atkins