Friends and colleagues pay tribute to radio executive and entrepreneur Paul Chantler

Radio executive and pioneer Paul Chantler has sadly died after a very short illness.

Paul was 64 and died in Eastbourne General Hospital this afternoon, Easter Sunday, having been admitted last week with breathing difficulties. He had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer.

He was one of radio’s most respected and popular characters, and co-author of many books and guides for radio people.

An influential player in UK commercial radio’s growth decades of the 80s, 90s and 00s, Paul held senior programming roles at Chiltern Radio, Essex Radio and Wireless Group.

He also worked at the BBC, Southern Sound, Invicta, and started his love for radio at Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells in 1971.

In his character black shirt, Paul lit up any room he walked into. Charming, clever and able, he latterly took to being an investor in start up stations and was very proud of his investments and directorships an Fix Radio and Podcast Radio.

Paul also co-wrote one of the Industry’s ‘go-to’ guides to libel and defamation, Essential Media Law, with Paul Hollins and was proud to have its latest edition’s preface written by LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

Paul had recently decided on a change of life and moved to a new apartment in Eastbourne.

He lived for radio, and was made a Radio Academy Fellow in recent years. He loved everything about the industry, from starting and running radio stations, to offering advice and consultancy, even appearing in a television programme about radio.

He was a friend to everyone who had the pleasure to meet him. He was an early supporter of this very site, being the first “site sponsor” under his company, United Radio, and continued to contribute articles and interviews.

We will miss him dearly. Who will tell us which swear words we can and can’t use on the radio now?

Colleagues and friends from the radio industry have been sharing their shock at the sad news, and we’ve included just some below.

His Podcast Radio colleague and friend Gerry Edwards wrote: “Paul’s zest for exploring new and bold ideas transformed the landscape of radio in the UK and afar. He has left an indelible mark on the entire broadcasting industry. He will be profoundly missed, whilst his visionary legacy will continue to inspire.”

His co-author Paul Hollins wrote: “Deeply saddened to share the news that my friend and co-author Paul Chantler has passed away after a short illness. Rest easy Paul and thanks for everything. x.”

Jason Bryant, from Nation, writes: “Paul was a brilliant programmer, good friend and formidable lunch date. Though he loved the high life, best restaurants and travelling the world, Paul understood what the mass market wanted from their radio stations.

“Throughout his career, in music, news and talk, Paul had many successes. He loved creating great radio, coaching on-air talent and helped so many people to reach their potential. Paul, you leave a great legacy – I will miss you, our chats and our lunches and I have no doubt the next part of your journey will be in First Class.”

David Lloyd paid tribute: “Paul was a real part of our industry. Always smiling. Always encouraging. Always thoughtful. He lived through commercial radio’s challenges and helped to find solutions for its victories. I shall miss his quiet support.”

Kevin and Vikki Stewart writes: “Paul’s passion and love of radio was matched by his affection for his beloved Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. He was an expert on both. A good friend to us for so many years he will be missed by us and all in radio who had the good fortune to work with him.”

Neil Greenslade, group PD at Nation Broadcasting said: “I want to thank Paul for his belief in me as both a presenter and programmer when I started my life in radio.
But more importantly the fun trips away… something as we all know Paul loved very much.

“Thank you for the good times.”

Keri Jones pays tribute: “I know many people won’t believe what they have read. And I can’t believe that Paul has gone.

“Although he spent most of his career away from the mic, Paul’s loss to our industry is immense, and a few paragraphs can’t do his contribution justice. Hundreds of people owe their careers and success to Paul’s coaching and guidance.

“Paul intuitively understood great radio, regardless of the format—dance at Galaxy or Vibe, Christian at Premier, or oldies at Supergold. He got people. And Paul knew what people wanted from information and entertainment. The two should not be mutually exclusive. He loved the US TV morning shows and encouraged us to embrace their relatability.

“Paul didn’t just excel as a presenter on Invicta and BBC Wiltshire; he made his most significant impact by recognising and developing newcomers’ talent and refining presenters’ on-air performance. TV viewers witnessed his motivational skills at Essex Radio in a fly-on-the-wall series. Thousands of listeners have learned how Paul brought out the best in his jocks at the Chiltern Network. As a presenters’ programme director, Paul worked closely with his team rather than isolating himself in an office. Accepting a reprimand from him was easy because you knew he was correct, and any tension was quickly dispelled—often over a quick pint at the pub. His passion for radio never waned; he continuously evolved, contributing to developing new formats. The successes of FixRadio and Podcast Radio stand as a testament to his keen eye for opportunity and exceptional execution of ideas. He was a one-off.

“This loss deeply affects our industry, but fortunately, his legacy endures through his excellent writing on broadcast law and journalism. It’s worth pondering how much Paul has saved broadcasters in legal costs over the years with his sage advice.

“It deeply saddens me that one of the radio greats has passed away. If, like the US presidents at Mount Rushmore, we were to immortalise UK radio icons in stone, I’d expect to see Paul, clad in his trademark black shirt, smiling down from the granite.

“I’m pleased that the Radio Academy recognised his contribution with a fellowship. It’s time for the sector to honour Paul with an annual award. His expertise extended to so many aspects of radio that I wouldn’t know which skill his award should recognise. But I know what he would want as the prize. Shelve the usual glass trophy. It must be a Shepherd’s pie and all the trimmings… at The Ivy.

“RIP, Paul, and thanks from the thousands of broadcasters you helped. I, for one, am eternally grateful.”