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Tributes made after death of former radio station boss
Tributes have been paid to the founding manager of Brighton’s BBC radio station.
Bob Gunnell died peacefully at home in Hove on Saturday at the age of 87 after a short illness.
Mr Gunnell served on Hove Borough Council as an independent member, served as a magistrate for more than 20 years, created the Brighton and Hove Arts Council and was involved in Brighton Festival in its early days.
His son Neil said: “He showed us what it meant to be part of the community.
Involved “He was so involved in so many things and I now sit on a number of committees trying to help people get what they want – and that’s how he has rubbed off on me.
“I think the picture of him raising a glass sums it up – ‘I’ve done my bit, over to you’.”
After becoming the man at the helm of one of the BBC’s first eight experimental local radio stations, his voice first hit the airwaves in Brighton to report on the chaos that had been caused by 11in of snow falling in 1967.
His first transmission was: “This is BBC Radio Brighton on air for the very first time, over two months ahead of schedule.
“This is Bob Gunnell, your station manager, speaking from the Pavilion Studio, not from our official home.
“The sudden snowfall has had such a serious effect on our community that it was decided to attempt to open an emergency service.”
He was manager for the next 15 years. After retiring from the BBC in 1982, he went on to become a lecturer on radio techniques.
Mr Gunnell later became chairman of Brighton and Hove University of the Third Age when he fully retired at the age of 70.
Most recently he was active in Grey Matters Productions, making programmes of interest to older people in the community which are broadcast on Brighton’s Community Radio Station.
He studied at Hove County Grammar School for Boys and became a chemist’s apprentice before joining the BBC as a teenager.
Former Argus journalist and columnist Adam Trimingham said: “Radio Brighton was a step into the unknown for the BBC in 1968. By the time Bob departed it was part of the local landscape.”
Funeral Mr Gunnell leaves his wife of 41 years Anne, sons Terry and Neil, stepdaughters Terry and Karen, four grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The funeral will be at Woodvale Crematorium at 1.45pm on Wednesday.
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