Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

Tributes paid as much-loved former UAE DJ dies

Tony Newell presented the breakfast show on the original Capital Radio in Abu Dhabi

Capital Radio staff at an event in the 1980s. Courtesy Clive McNeil
Capital Radio staff at an event in the 1980s. Courtesy Clive McNeil

Tributes have been paid to a popular UAE radio personality from the 1980s who had died in Cyprus.

Tony Newell was a presenter on Abu Dhabi’s now defunct Capital Radio for almost 12 years.

He arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1986 and quickly gained a huge following for his professionalism on air, personal flamboyance and generosity as a person.

Newell, 60, was from the UK and died after a battle with cancer. He had been working for a rock music station in Paphos on the southwest coast of the island.

Tony Newell, who passed away in Cyprus last week. Rock FM Paphos 
Tony Newell, who passed away in Cyprus last week. Rock FM Paphos

Hundreds of people have now been recounting their fond memories of the man on social media and elsewhere.

“I used to bump into him in and around town as he used to DJ at various events,” said Fadi Mansour who worked with Newell at Capital.

“He was a nice guy, very warm and always smiling,” said Mr Mansour, who now works for Heart FM in Dubai. “It is a shame he’s gone at such a young age.”

He had bright clothes and looked like someone from the 1970s. A nicer guy you couldn’t wish to meet

Paul Harris, Rock FM

June O’Neil lived in Abu Dhabi during the station’s heyday in the 1980s. Now back in her native Scotland, she remembers Newell as a man who cut a dash through town with his blond hair and flamboyant clothes.

“He wore skinny trousers in the 1980s - before anyone else,” said Ms O’Neil.

Newell also believed in the community ethos of the station and went above and beyond to make people living in the city feel involved.

“On Capital Radio he did the football results for the school boys on a Thursday morning to ‘match of the day’ music.

“He was relaxed [on air] but official, easy to understand and always sounded like he wanted to be there," she said.

Capital Radio was Abu Dhabi’s first attempt a pop music station. It was established by the Ministry of Information and Culture a few years after the UAE was formed. The station had a DIY ethos - DJs played whatever music they wanted, personally answered the station’s phones and even locked up at midnight after that day’s programming ended.

Mega stars such as Tina Turner and Shirley Bassey visited its studios on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche where the broadcasting mast stands to this day beside Spinney’s supermarket. The station ceased broadcasting in 1999, while a new station under that brand opened last year. But over its original 20-year run, Capital Radio provided the soundtrack to Abu Dhabi’s growing internationalism.

“He was a considerate person with a kind soul," said Ms O'Neil. "I never heard him say anything bad about anyone.”

Newell moved to Cyprus in the early 2000s and joined Rock FM where he had also been presenting the breakfast show.

Colleagues in Paphos have been paying tribute to the man.

“He had a lovely deep voice but as a person he was different,” said Paul Harris, 62, who is a presenter on Rock FM and is originally from Nottingham.

“He had bright clothes and looked like someone from the 1970s. A nicer guy you couldn’t wish to meet.”

Updated: May 26, 2019 04:46 PM

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