West Midlands radio broadcaster Tony Butler dies aged 88

West Midlands broadcaster Tony Butler has died at the age of 88.

Tributes are being made on social media by his friends and former colleagues, who are sad to learn of his passing peacefully in his sleep yesterday.

Tony is credited with starting the original football phone-in on BRMB in 1974 and was Head of Sport for the station.

He left BRMB 10 years later after a row with a fellow disabled broadcaster. The dismissal of such a high profile personality was front page news in Birmingham, and programmes on BRMB were severely affected as some of Butler’s former colleagues walked out on strike.

He joined the BBC shortly afterwards, and was appointed Manager of BBC WM in 1987 then went on to host a rival Football Phone-in and breakfast show.

After various other stints on radio stations around the Midlands, Tony worked on Gold where he teamed up with Tom Ross to continue the Football Phone-In.

Tony retired in 2012 at the age of 77 after 40 years on the air. You can hear him talking about his retirement here.

Daz Hale, who currently hosts the Football Phone In on BBC WM, said: “So sad to hear about the passing of Tony Butler . This is the man who , back in the 1970’s , INVENTED the Football Phone In . A great broadcaster who became a great friend . Rest in Peace Tone . Okay? Okay !”

Tom Ross said: “Am devastated to hear that my old boss Tony Butler has passed away. Tony gave me my job at BRMB for which i will always be grateful. I am so glad many years later I got the chance to repay him by inviting him to host the phone in with me.

“He revolutionised the way sport was covered on radio and was the phone in master. He managed the BRMB charity football team and helped to raise thousands for needy causes. I learned so much from him and we became great friends- always spoke his mind.

“I had so much respect and love for him and owe him so much- without him I would not have had a radio career. RIEP legend.”