Death of Broadcasting Giant

Ed Doolan receiving his Life Member award at a Birmingham Press Club luncheon

Ed Doolan receiving his Life Member award at a Birmingham Press Club luncheon

Tributes were paid today (January 16) after broadcasting legend Ed Doolan, who had been unwell since Christmas, died in his sleep earlier today, aged 76. He had been suffering from vascular dementia for a number of years.


“Ed was a broadcasting giant – also an inspiration and a friend to many people in the Midlands and across the country,” said Sarah Harness, Editor at BBC WM.

During his career, Ed, who in 2015 was enrolled as a Life Member of Birmingham Press Club in recognition of his services to the industry,  was awarded the MBE for services to radio. He also won a Sony Gold Award and had the unique distinction of becoming the first person to be awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Birmingham, Aston University and the (former) University of Central England, now Birmingham City University.

In paying tribute, David Jennings, head of regional and local programmes at BBC West Midlands, said: “Ed was one of the great names of Local Radio.

“For 30 years from 1982, Ed's daily show was an appointment to listen on BBC WM.  Recently, Ed had been living with dementia, but continued to broadcast a recorded weekly programme featuring interviews from his vast personal archive.

“Ed was a genuine broadcasting giant loved by generations of radio listeners in the West Midlands. On his daily show, he was the people’s champion - tireless in his pursuit of truth and fairness for all. Ed faced dementia with indomitable spirit and bravery, raising awareness of the condition and was the subject of a BBC West Midlands documentary about that battle.

“His contribution has been immense and will continue to inspire presenters across local radio now and in the future.  All our thoughts are with Ed’s wife Chris and their family,” said David.

Sarah added: “Ed’s UK career was launched at BRMB in 1974 and he first broadcast on BBC WM in 1982 but had already become a well- loved figure in the area by then.  He was undoubtedly the people’s champion and I don’t think there was any major public figure he didn’t hold to account on his mid-morning show. Ed was a man of the people and really did get things done and today really is the end of an era.”

She said: “Our audience will need time to talk about their loss and share memories.  But so will we.”

When he was enrolled as a Press Club Life Member, Ed recalled the time he was actually refused membership!

He said:  “It was in March 1973. I turned up at a Press Club meeting and they told me I couldn’t join.  They said I worked in radio – and wasn’t a journalist!

“Anyway, I kept going back and eventually did join when I produced my German Press Card,” said Ed, who worked at Radio Deutsche Welle before joining commercial radio station BRMB in Birmingham.