born: 08 May 1904
died: 25 March 1996
John Snagge moved with ease from radio administration to performing, as an announcer, newsreader and sports commentator, and his rich, fruity vocal tone was one of the most distinctive in the medium.
After education at Winchester and Pembroke College, Oxford, he began his radio career at Stoke-on-Trent in 1924, when he was appointed Assistant Station Director. In 1928 he moved to Savoy Hill as an announcer, and in 1931, at the invitation of the first director of Outside Broadcasts, Gerald Cock, he commentated on the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. This, his crowning achievement in front of the microphone, continued for 50 years until he bowed out in 1980. So intimately did he become associated with the event that, when television coverage began in 1938, the new medium still took Snagge's commentary.
As an announcer, he brought the news of the invasion of North Africa, the D-Day Landings and VE Day, and he was senior commentator at the Coronation in 1953. Meanwhile his distinguished executive career at the BBC continued: Assistant, Outside Broadcasts (1933), Assistant Director (1939), Presentation Director (1939-45), Head of Presentation, Home Service (1945-57), Head of Presentation, Sound (1957-63) and Special Duties (1963-65). At this point he officially retired, but was as busy as ever as a freelance broadcaster.
In spite of his sonorous voice and old-school image, Snagge retained a healthy sense of self-parody, witnessed by his occasional appearances on 'The Goon Show' and, most startling of all, a contribution to a Sex Pistols B-side.
Commentator University Boat Race (1928 -1980)
BBC Commentator (1928 - 1980)
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