Keith Warmington steps down after 26 years with the BBC
POPULAR BBC Radio Bristol presenter Keith Warmington has chosen to step down from his role after 26 years with the corporation.
Local weather girl Jemma Cooper will also no longer present forecasts as part of a restructure, although she is staying with the BBC.
Mr Warmington, 63, worked for the BBC as a freelance in 1983, before taking a full-time role in 1987.
He presented Drivetime on Radio Bristol between 1995 and 2006 before taking over the 7pm until 10pm slot.
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Over the years he has interviewed a host of personalities including Michael Parkinson, Tony Blair, George Melly and Pete Postlethwaite.
"I was able to introduce mum, who was a massive fan of the film Brassed Off, to Pete Postlethwaite and she couldn't get over him holding her hand in both of his," Mr Warmington told The Post.
In 2001 Mr Warmington was named Top Local Broadcaster of the Year by Venue magazine,
He chose to take voluntary redundancy when the BBC restructured their local programming resulting in his popular 7pm to 10pm slot no longer existing.
A talented musician, he will now focus on playing gigs all over the country with friends Stuart Gordon and Steve Tilston.
Mr Warmington's show is being replaced by the Mark Forrest show from Monday which will be broadcast to all 39 local BBC radio stations from the studio at BBC Radio Leeds.
Originally from Cornwall, Mr Warmington came to Bristol to work as a French teacher at Merrywood Boys school in Knowle.
He was first introduced to radio by a friend and loved the experience. After a BBC manager heard his voice he was offered a two-week trial and shortly afterwards he had been sent on a journalism course and had become a newsroom reporter. From there he quickly progressed to a producer who collated and read out the news.
Before long he found himself being asked to present.
"Radio is the best medium in my opinion. It is instant and you are in people's homes, cars and in cafes," Mr Warmington said.
He spent two years gathering news for television and radio before, in 1995, he jumped at the chance of presenting Drivetime.
"I took that job and did it for 11 years," he said.
"It was a mix of news, which I loved, but also gave me the opportunity to interview people performing at the Old Vic and musicians would come in and do sessions.
"I was lucky. I was able to work my way up back then. That would be impossible nowadays."
In 2006 a new manager arrived and Mr Warmington found himself presenting the 10pm to 1am slot for a short time before then settling into the 7pm to 10pm slot.
He said: "It was some of the most enjoyable broadcasting of my career.
"Broadcasting in the evening is different because people listen for longer and you feel like you get to know listeners better and vice-versa.
"There is also less control over your show so you can make it yours.
"I did miss Drivetime for the hard-nosed interviews because there was nothing better than holding a politician to account but at the same time it was good to play music and chat to people all over the West Country."
Although his relationship with the BBC has come to an end Mr Warmington has no axe to grind.
"I always said to myself that I wanted to finish my career while I was still sounding good – I didn't want to drag it out forever," he said.
"When they offered redundancy I put my hand up because it was a really good opportunity for me.
"If I had been 20 years younger it would have been a horrible blow.
"But I will be busy performing music all over the UK and we are making an album this year."
He has many memories from his time with the BBC including shaming the council into giving a disabled child a school place and being news editor the day Margaret Thatcher resigned – a moment he described as "great fun".
"The two days I do remember are the Twin Towers in 2001 and the July 7, 2005 attacks in London," he said.
"Although a local station those were events that affected the nation and were as important in Bristol as anywhere else."
A BBC spokesperson confirmed that Jemma Cooper will no longer present the weather.
They said that forecasts for the West in breakfast, lunchtime and Weekend regional TV bulletins would now be delivered from the weather hub in Plymouth.
The evening bulletins will continue to be presented by Ian Fergusson from the BBC in Bristol with Ms Cooper standing in as his deputy when Mr Fergusson is unavailable.
The spokesperson confirmed Ms Cooper remains an employee.