Broadcaster Janice Long has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Edge Hill University in recognition of her contribution to the popular music and national cultural life.
Receiving her award today from Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater, she said: “It’s a fantastic university and I’m so glad that I’m now part of it.”
Janice was the first female DJ to be given a daily show on national radio, but she began her career as a station assistant at Radio Merseyside. Her life as a broadcaster properly began with Street Life on Radio Merseyside.
From there she quickly progressed to Radio One, where The Janice Long Show featured music, news, interviews and, crucially, live sessions which were an important way for new artists to be heard and funded.
Janice was also the first female presenter on Top of the Pops, regularly appearing during the Eighties, and returning for the last ever show in 2006. In 1985 Janice was part of the team presenting Live Aid, the monumental worldwide charity event.
In 1995, Janice returned to Liverpool to establish her own station, Crash FM, an alternative channel showcasing the city’s music scene. This was backed by Bob Geldof, Primal Scream and Boy George, amongst others. The station later became Juice FM, and then Capital.
She has worked on a variety of stations including GLR and XFM, where she was involved in bidding for the station getting a permanent licence. Her career has also encompassed Radio 2, 5, 6 Music and Radio Wales.
The list of artists who have benefited from being give airtime by Janice at the beginning of their careers is long and illustrious, including Amy Winehouse, The Teardrop Explodes, the Icicle Works and the Farm.
Janice has given invaluable levels of exposure to artists from the University’s own record label, playing songs from its very first releases by The Inkhearts and Hooton Tennis Club to the most recent by graduate, Bill Nickson.
In the ceremony, Roy Bayfield, Director of Corporate Communications said: “This year the University is celebrating 100 years since some women got the right to vote with our Wonder Women campaign. Janice’s career shows how passion and humanity can be the bedrock of a flourishing and diverse career, and it is particularly fitting that her contribution should be celebrated within this year.”
In her speech to graduands she said: “I feel very blessed because I have a wonderful life. Every day I think, ‘gosh what must it feel like to do something you really don’t like?’. I am so lucky to do a job that I’m completely into.
“Who is going to say ‘oh I hate listening to music’ and ‘I hate going to gigs’ and ‘I hate hosting a radio show’ and ‘I hate interviewing all of these incredibly famous people’ so I count my blessings every day.
It has not always been easy for Janice as she rose to fame at a time when she faced many challenges, including sexism.
She said: “I have faced all kinds of things: body image, criticism for wearing DMs, all of that stuff I’ve had to fight against over the years. It’s gradually changing for everybody of all genders. But there are going to be obstacles and you just get over them, you ride them.
“She added: “Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams and ambitions. In media you have to dare to be different. Be yourself, be true to yourself and stick to your guns, have your dreams and follow them.”
After leaving the ceremony at Edge Hill, Janice will travel to London for the launch of an exhibition in the Royal College of Art. She is one of 100 portraits of women who did something first – called First Women UK, it is an exhibition celebrating 100 pioneering 21st century women.
Janice’s portrait will appear with Betty Boothroyd, the first female speaker of the House of Commons, and Nicola Adams OBE who was the first women to win British Olympic and European Games boxing gold medals, amongst others.
She said: “You can imagine how I’m feeling today. Last night was like Christmas eve, I am so excited.”