Richardson's 25 years on Today

By Caitlin Pike

After 25 years of bringing sport to listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Garry Richardson enjoyed an on-air tribute on Tuesday and was treated to a cooked breakfast and a celebration with fellow broadcasters off air.

"It’s a first to my knowledge and makes a change to the usual BBC coffee that’s £1.70 a slice these days," he told Press Gazette.

Richardson was first introduced on the Today programme in 1981. His most memorable broadcasting moment was a live interview with Bill Clinton in the royal box at Wimbledon.

"That interview sticks in my mind purely and simply because nobody gets to sit with the President in the Royal box for 15 minutes and also because it happened so quickly — I just wrote a letter, gave it to a Wimbledon official and 15 minutes later they said ‘Yes, come and do it’."

Over his 25 years of service, Richardson has observed subtle changes in the Today programme. The biggest difference is that most of the programme is now conducted live, either in the studio or from radio cars.

Richardson says prerecorded material was used a lot more in the past.

Another difference is the tone of the programme. "In the ’80s they would interview more people who were going to climb up Everest with a duck on their shoulder, there were a few more of those types of stories. That’s not to say the Today programme doesn’t do that now, but it’s slightly more serious."

Richardson has also broadcast to some extremely high-profile listeners during his 25 years. "I read a feature in a magazine years ago and it talked about the Prime Minister tuning in at 7.10am, the Queen Mother at 7.20am and the Queen at 7.50am."

And Richardson has no plans to hang up the microphone yet: "It’s a fantastic job being a sports broadcaster, I’m going off to the Commonwealth Games in Australia tomorrow and I’ve met Muhammad Ali.

"Twenty-five years on you think someone will come up and say to you ‘do a proper job’, but fortunately they haven’t."

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