Tributes have been paid to “outstanding” BBC Radio Manchester journalist Jonathan Ali after his death aged 50 from cancer.
Ali, who worked at the BBC’s Manchester radio station for 26 years, was diagnosed with a form of rare bone and tissue cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. He died at Christie Hospital, Manchester, on Thursday last week.
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Ali joined the BBC out of university, first on radio in Leicester and then Manchester from 1993 where he spent much time as a community reporter covering the Greater Manchester towns of Rochdale, Bolton and Bury.
He reported on some of the biggest stories in the city during his decades-long career, including the IRA bombing of 1996 and the Commonwealth Games of 2002.
BBC Radio Manchester managing editor Kate Squire said: “Jonathan, or ‘Jali’ as everyone called him, was an outstanding journalist – absolutely passionate about local broadcasting and Greater Manchester.
“His journalism changed things and had a real impact on people.
“He was a hard-working, enthusiastic and intelligent journalist and a kind, loving and funny friend. Our hearts are so heavy. We will miss him terribly and our thoughts are with his family.”
Manchester Evening News sports reporter Chris Slater tweeted: “Jonathan was a great bloke always had time for me and was helpful when we came across each other on jobs.”
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham tweeted: “The news that BBC Radio Manchester’s Jonathan Ali has passed away is deeply saddening.
“He had a real commitment to all of the communities of Greater Manchester. He was very much one of our own and we will all miss him very much. Thoughts with his family and everyone at BBC Radio Manchester.”
Ali continued his work at BBC Radio Manchester while he received treatment at Christie Hospital. When a fire broke out at the hospital in April 2017, he covered it for the BBC on radio and TV.
Ali was brought up in the Hawkshaw village near Bury and studied at Bury Grammar School before going on to Oxford University.
The BBC said Ali was deeply interested in the history of Bury and wrote a book about soldiers from the town who fought in the First World War, which won praise from film director Danny Boyle.