Wogan was the consummate broadcaster who’d been in the public eye for five decades. But that in itself doesn't fully account for the warmth of the response or the sense of loss felt by so many.
What was his secret and what can church leaders learn from the impact he made on the nation? Here are four things the best broadcasters and best leaders do regularly.
1. Communicate clearly and concisely
Terry Wogan was a clear and concise communicator. Radio links are invariably short so everything gets distilled to its simplest most potent form. Listeners loved Wogan’s warm, friendly style and so chose to tune in every day.
Contrast that with the average sermon. With falling church attendances there is a lesson to be learned. People increasingly feel church isn't for them and vote with their feet. If we as Christians can communicate better, brighter, more and more succinctly, we may have a chance of capturing the imagination. Delivering better sermons in itself won’t turn the tide of unbelief. But it won’t hurt either.
The microphone and the camera never lie. In a live broadcast these tools will reveal a personality with ruthless precision.
Sir Terry flourished because he was a genuinely lovely person who people simply wanted to know. It was the wonder of broadcasting that brought Wogan’s personality right into our homes.
To put it simply: Terry Wogan cared.
All of us need to feel loved. A good pastor is a real friend. They walk the journey and are part of our everyday lives. By a smile, a hug, a quiet word we know that they care. We need more pastors who will make people feel truly loved and cared for.
3. Be consistent
As millions tuned into Radio 2 each day, they knew exactly what they were going to get. They knew that they would hear a cheery, non-confrontational and relentlessly upbeat person.
With him there was the feeling that any trouble was passing and there was always hope. Such virtues of course are the essence of the gospel and should imbue each one of us. If this kind of positivity could flow out from our leaders and inspire our churches then what a difference we could make.
Can our leaders be as reliable, dependable and consistent as Terry Wogan’s voice was for many years? It’s a big ask. But consistency is key. As Anthony Robbins said, ‘It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.’
Terry Wogan didn't just crack jokes about others (remember his legendary Eurovision commentary?). He could laugh at himself as well. Chris Evans has said of Sir Terry 'he was the butt of most of his jokes'.
People warm to those who don't take themselves too seriously.
We can all think of Christians who sadly seem to find it hard to laugh at all...let alone at themselves. Pastors should be approachable. When leaders use self deprecating humour, they aren't just cracking a joke. They're reminding their congregation that they aren't taking themselves too seriously. Perhaps that could be a lesson for each of us?