POPULAR Radio Solent breakfast show DJ Julian Clegg wiped away tears as he hung up his microphone after 23 years this morning (Thursday).
Julian thanked listeners on what was his 60th birthday saying it had been an “amazing” way to end his career.
As well-wishers gathered at the BBC’s studios in Southampton, he said: “To have so many colleagues, past and present – and even a message from the BBC’s director general Tony Hall – has made a lovely surprise.”
Julian, who lives in Tiptoe with his wife Carolyn and their dogs Teddie and Freddie, added: “It’s been amazing. I have been very flattered that people behind the scenes have gone to so much trouble to put it all together.
“I have had hundreds of cards and emails. Me and Carolyn have spent the past few nights sitting in bed and reading them all, they’ve been wonderful.
“Last night we were up until quarter to 10 reading them – we usually go to bed at 8.30pm every night so that gives you some idea!
“I shall be taking the advice of one of the cards which said treat the next month as though it’s annual leave, so I shall be having a lie-in on Friday.”
Asked to sum up his emotions, Julian said: “Shock! I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
BBC director general Tony Hall left a special message for Julian on his last day, praising him for his service.
Mr Hall said: “Let me thank you for nearly 23 years of waking the south up. You know I am a huge fan of BBC local radio and you’re the epitome of what makes us different and makes us stand out, and resonate with our audience.
“Your passion for the south shines through, you know what the audience cares about, and crucially you care about them.”
Among the guests for the special show were Eastenders theme tune writer Simon May, former BBC presenter Bruce Parker, and Paralympic gold medallist David Smith.
The New Forest Chamber Choir sang several numbers for noted choral music fan Julian, who announced he was leaving earlier this year.
There were also messages from local sporting heroes including Sir Ben Ainslie, and ex-Strictly Come Dancing star Karen Hardy.
Dame Esther Rantzen, who has a home in Bramshaw, phoned in to the show to pay tribute to Julian.
“You will be hugely missed and the whole of the area will go into mourning – they won’t know what to do with their mornings,” she said.
Many long-term listeners called to offer kind words, including one who correctly named Julian’s final Be the DJ song as Goodbye, sung by comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
The winner added: “I feel the way I’m sure many listeners do – that I’m losing a friend.”