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Jazz FM's Richard Wheatly dies

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 24 April 2015, 4.31pm edt

Jazz FM
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Jazz FM have announced that their Chairman, Richard Wheatly, has died.

He was 69.

Wheatly joined JFM in 1995, when the station had, reportedly, just three months' worth of money left. He changed the name back to Jazz FM and initiated a number of far-sighted business operations which returned the station to profit. By 2002, the station was the most listened-to online radio station in the world. After the sale of Jazz FM to the Guardian Media Group, he bought the brand back and relaunched the service on a variety of digital platforms.

In a statement released today, Jazz FM said:

It is with great sadness we announce that Richard Wheatly died earlier this week, following a short illness. Richard had been an integral part of Jazz FM for many years and is responsible for shaping the brand you know and love today. Following an impressive career in global advertising, Richard joined Jazz FM as Managing Director in 1995 and built the company into a successful business. Following its sale to the Guardian Media Group, he returned in 2008 to buy the station back, re-launching the brand to focus on serving his fellow jazz lovers across the UK. He wanted to bring jazz into people’s lives beyond the airwaves and co-founded the hugely successful Love Supreme Jazz Festival in 2013. Richard was a passionate jazz fan and his weekly Sunday night show on Jazz FM had a dedicated following. He was a well-known figure in the industry and served as Chair of both the National Jazz Youth Collective and First Radio Sales. Richard was much loved by everyone at Jazz FM and will be greatly missed.

Siobhan Kenny, Chief Executive of RadioCentre, the trade body for commercial radio, said:

“We are so saddened to hear the shocking news about Richard’s sudden death. He was a maverick in our industry when he launched Jazz FM. By creating Jazz’s Listen in Colour positioning along with the brand’s well-loved chameleon, he was successful in creating one of the most recognisable radio offerings of its time. He was driven by an entrepreneurial passion and a deep love of jazz music. The people who worked alongside him over his long career will testify that he was a decent man who brought something different to our industry and was always a calm presence in the room offering sage advice. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone at Jazz FM.”

More information

James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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