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Linnell presented the weekday Afternoon and Drive Time Show on BBC Radio Northampton from February 2018 until the end of March 2019. Before that he fronted the station's Lunch Show. On 29 March 2019, after ten years at BBC Radio Northampton, Linnell hosted his final regular daily radio show, having announced that he was taking semi-retirement. He continues to broadcast on a regular weekly basis for BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, and until the restrictions imposed as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, Linnell also hosted other, occasional, one-off shows for BBC Radio Northampton. For the 2019/2020 football season, Linnell was the host of the Friday evening football phone-in on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, where he has previously presented the Sky Blues match-day coverage, as well as other shows. He was part of the on-air team at the launch of Radio Hallam in Sheffield in 1974, and he was also a front-line presenter at the launch of Coventry and Warwickshire’s first local radio station, Coventry based Mercia Sound in 1980. He worked at Mercia for 15 years, first as presenter of a daily show and also as Sports Editor, before becoming the station's Programme Controller and Managing Director. He has also presented the breakfast shows at both BBC WM and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.
Early life and education
Stuart Linnell was born at Northfield in Birmingham on 22 January 1947. His parents were Captain Eric Linnell and Dorothy Linnell (née Swain). His paternal grandfather was Captain Charles Linnell MC MBE, President of the South African War Veteran's Association, who won his Military Cross at Passchendaele.
Linnell attended Kings Heath High School and Kings Norton Grammar School for Boys (now Kings Norton Boys' School), both in Birmingham. He later studied at Matthew Boulton Technical College and, later again, the Open University.
After beginning his broadcasting as a volunteer contributor to the Birmingham Hospital Broadcasting Network (BHBN), Linnell started his professional broadcasting career at the then regional BBC centre at Pebble Mill with BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970. In 1974, he was recruited to the UK's developing commercial radio network with the launch of Radio Hallam in Sheffield.
He spent six years at Radio Hallam as Sports Editor, hosting all the station's main sports programmes and commentating on many major fixtures including football, cricket, boxing and speedway. He added snooker to that list when the World Professional Snooker Championship moved to a regular, annual venue at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 1977. He also presented other, non-sports shows at Radio Hallam, and during his years in Sheffield, Linnell also appeared from time to time on the regional ITV station Yorkshire Television.
In 1980 Linnell was part of the launch team at Coventry's first local radio station Mercia Sound. He stayed at Mercia for 15 years, initially as Sports Editor hosting the station's sports programmes and commentating on various sporting fixtures. When the station started he was also presenter of the weekday afternoon show "Afternoon Delight", before going on to be Mercia's Programme Controller and then Managing Director. As local commercial radio developed, Mercia became part of a group of radio stations across the Midlands, which saw Stuart's management role involve BRMB in Birmingham, RAM FM in Derby and Leicester Sound.
In 1995 he returned to the BBC to host radio and TV programmes in the Midlands, including the Breakfast Shows on BBC WM and, later, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.
Linnell then spent some years freelancing for radio and TV stations broadcasting to the UK and to Ireland, and he worked for a short time with the ill-fated commercial radio group Laser Broadcasting, before returning to front-line presenting on BBC local radio in 2009. Since then he has presented programmes for BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Oxford, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, and BBC Radio Northampton.
After seven years hosting the weekday (Monday-Friday) Breakfast Show for BBC Radio Northampton, Linnell moved to the station's Afternoon & Drive Time Show, also on weekdays. For many years he also hosted the matchday Sky Blues Live football show for BBC Coventry & Warwickshire for whom he has also presented other programmes, including a period as host of the station’s faith-based Sunday Breakfast Show. For the 2019/2020 football season, Linnell was the regular host of the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Friday evening football phone-in show.
On 29 March 2019, Linnell hosted his final regularly scheduled afternoon show in Northampton, having announced that he was stepping down from full-time, daily broadcasting, and taking semi-retirement.
On television, he has presented the Saturday evening edition of Midlands Today on BBC One, and the Sunday lunchtime TV programme 'The Midlands At Westminster' (the forerunner to The Politics Show) which was on either BBC One or BBC Two depending on the needs of the programme schedules. He has worked for the UK national radio stations BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and TalkSport, and for the Irish national commercial station Today FM. He has also been a reporter for the TV stations Sky Sports News and Setanta Sports.
In 2008, Linnellstepped down after two years as Chairman of the Coventry Branch of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. He is a former member of the Chamber's main board.
In January 2019, he was appointed Chair of Healthwatch Coventry.
Honours and awards
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Linnell was made an MBE for services to broadcasting in 1995. He received his medal from Her Majesty the Queen at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
He won three Sony Radio Academy Awards – the most coveted awards in UK radio – one of them the Gold Award for the UK's best speech-based Breakfast Show (at BBC WM) in 1997, a category won the previous year by the BBC World Service and the following year by BBC Radio 5 Live. Indeed, his BBC WM Breakfast Show won Silver and Gold Sony's in successive years (1996 and 1997).
In 1999, he received an Honorary MA from Coventry University in recognition of his work as a broadcaster and for his services to the community in Coventry and Warwickshire. At the end of 2007 he graduated with a BA Honours in Humanities with Literature after six years study with the Open University.
In 2010, his Sunday Breakfast Show on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire received a Merit Award in the Sandford St Martin Trust Religious Radio Awards for a series called "Dear God" in which listeners were invited to send in their messages to God, some of which were broadcast on air. They ranged from the upbeat to the loneliness of bereavement. The messages were pinned to a board displayed first at the radio station and later in Coventry Cathedral. Linnell's Sunday Breakfast Show was also a finalist in the 2012 Jerusalem Awards for its "Rev's Records" feature in which faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Coventry, chose some of their favourite music.
In January 2019 Linnell took on the voluntary role of Chair of Healthwatch Coventry ( www.healthwatchcoventry.co.uk ), regarded as the champion for health and social care in Coventry. He was appointed to the post for a two-year term.
In March 2019 Linnell announced that, after 50 years behind the mic, he was taking a break from every day, every week, full-time broadcasting, but with the intention of hosting shows on a less frequent basis. He continued to appear from time to time hosting one-off shows on BBC Radio Northampton and on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, and for the 2019/2020 football season, he was the host of the weekly, hour-long, Friday evening football phone-in show on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.
Because of the restrictions imposed as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, his appearances at BBC Radio Northampton came to an end in the Spring of 2020. Since March 2020 Linnell has been broadcasting from home, appearing from time to time alongside BBC CWR Sports Editor Clive Eakin on programmes featuring Coventry City F.C.