Media: A Moment with Marquis

Nobody seemed more surprised than the man himself. Last week, new Rajar figures placed him top of the listening tree at eight million-plus a week, an additional 410,000, and he said on air he couldn't quite believe it.

We're talking Terry Wogan, of course, and anyone who has spent even a few minutes with his Monday to Friday 7.30am to 9.30am Radio 2 show will know to take a large pinch of salt with almost anything he says. Wogan may be amused by his success, but not particularly surprised.

On the face of it, it is remarkable that the most popular programme on the whole of UK radio - let alone on its most listened-to station, Radio 2 - should be hosted by an Irish pensioner who made his name more than 30 years ago as the mid-morning presenter of an anodyne show known principally for encouraging his listeners to "fight the flab". Neither were Wogan's other long-standing jobs - taking the mickey out of the Eurovision Song Contest and chairing the inane Blankety Blank - a natural precursor for radio ratings success in his golden years.

Yet successful he undoubtedly is and not just with the middle-aged middle class to whose dated musical tastes Wake up to Wogan ostensibly caters: astonishingly, his appeal increasingly is to the young.

Whatever is the secret of this improbable media winner? What Wogan knows, but is too well-mannered and naturally modest to admit openly, is that it is personality. His personality. It cannot be the playlist or the news and weather updates or the spoonful of religious reflection towards the end of the show, so it has to be Wogan himself and, nowadays, he is anything but bland. His interactions with his producer and newsreaders, his reactions and responses to letters and e-mails from listeners clamouring to get on his show are, in the main, acid, slightly short-tempered, often dismissive, frequently close to the boundaries of good taste and therefore invariably funny.

Wogan has an instinctive touch, a knack of articulating the outlook of the bewildered majority, a feel for the human condition.

There is a running joke among contributors who refer to Wogan's "other listener" - as if there are only two. This is the essence of radio: an interweaving of the one-to-one relationship with the shared experience of a great listening community. The irony of no fewer than eight million "other listeners" will surely tickle the man who has created this vast band of dedicated followers.

Wogan for prime minister, I say.