Radio Times reveals the nation’s favourite radio voices

Eddie Mair, Kirsty Young, Leona Graham and Steve Allen top the polls after 32,000 votes

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A whopping 53 million people tune into UK radio each week. And if any more evidence were needed that we are a nation of radio lovers, more than 32,000 votes were counted in our poll to find your favourite voices on the airwaves.

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Topping the poll of Radio Times magazine readers were Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young and Eddie Mair, host of Radio 4’s daily news show, while RadioTimes.com users voted in their droves for Absolute Radio’s Leona Graham and LBC’s Steve Allen.

So what exactly makes a great ‘radio voice’? “I think you just have to talk to people,” says Young. “I just think of it as a three-way conversation with the listener as a silent partner, so I’m just talking the way I would over lunch.”

Mair describes his style as “calm, slightly slurred”, while Graham says “people who listen to me have said I have a slightly husky tone… our breakfast show presenter keeps calling me ‘the British Suzi Quatro’”.

Allen, meanwhile, admits he can sometimes come across as “caustic” or “bitter” and says that hearing his own voice is “my idea of hell”. Clearly, his listeners disagree. 

The last time Radio Times ran a radio voice poll was back in 2002. Jane Anderson, Radio Times radio editor, applauded the changes that have taken place since then and took the opportunity to pay tribute to the late, great Terry Wogan, who topped that poll.

“It’s been 14 years since RT ran a voice poll,” said Anderson. “Charlotte Green was then your leading woman without having a show of her own, and sadly, our last leading man, Terry Wogan, died in January. His lilting Irish burr, almost musical in its delivery, delighted our readers for decades. But Terry’s influence lives on.

“When he won, he topped a list dominated by those who spoke ‘BBC English’. That’s now changed: four of today’s Top Ten voices are Scottish, two are Welsh and, in the case of Neil Nunes, his rich, deep baritone arrives with a Jamaican accent. Radio has come such a long way since 2002, some 53.5 million people now listen every week, back in 2002 it was 48.6 million – and happily radio’s burgeoning popularity is reflected in our poll!”

The polls asked readers to name their favourite male and female radio voices from a shortlist of 40 compiled by industry experts.

See the full list of winners below:

Radio Times magazine poll

 
Women Men

1 Kirsty Young

2 Charlotte Green

3 Jenni Murray

4 Mishal Husain

5 Jane Garvey

6 Lynn Bowles

7 Corrie Corfield

8 Susan Rae

9 Sarah Walker

10 Anne-Marie Minhall

1 Eddie Mair

2 John Humphrys

3 Ken Bruce

4 John Suchet

5 Neil Nunes

6 Henry Blofeld

7 Barry Cryer

8 Charles Collingwood

9 Michael Berkeley

10 Steve Allen

RadioTimes.com poll  
Women Men

1. Leona Graham

2. Kirsty Young

3. Lynn Bowles

4. Cerys Matthews

5. Kathy Clugston

6. Charlotte Green

7. Jenni Murray

8. Jane Garvey

9. Mishal Husain

10. Lauren Laverne

1. Steve Allen

2. Ken Bruce

3. Eddie Mair

4. Colin Murray

5. Martin Kelner

6. Henry Blofeld

7. John Humphrys

8. Russ Williams

9. Neil Nunes

10. Charles Collingwood

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Read interviews with the winners, and more of your favourite radio stars, in the new issue of Radio Times, in the shops and via Apple Newsstand from Tuesday