It's been a hoot,says Night Owl Alan.
NORTH East radio legend Alan Robson paid tribute to his faithful army of listeners as he presented his last Night Owls show on Metro Radio.
The late-night phone-in programme came to an end on Thursday after more than 40 years of bizarre callers, quizzes, pranks, stories of UFOs, vampires, mythical creatures and hauntings.
And although listeners will still be able to hear a 'Sunday super show' Night Owls on Greatest Hits Radio starting from August, it was still an emotional goodbye for the host.
Alan said the two weeks since he announced the show was coming to an end had been "worse than you could ever imagine".
Among the many tributes from devastated fans were messages from Ant and Dec, who grew up with the show, and Alan Shearer, who was introduced to Newcastle United fans by Alan when he signed for the club in 1996.
"It's hard, when people love you it just wipes me out," said Alan. "A thousand people a day loving you - it's tough. "Today a woman in a shop just burst out crying and cuddled us. And last night taxi drivers and wagon drivers were all flashing their lights. Amazing."
Born in Benwell, Newcastle, Alan started as a singer in a 'shabby rock band' and tried stand-up comedy before quitting a job in the civil service to have a stab at broadcasting for Metro Radio.
He said: "I never liked talk radio so I did it badly for about two weeks - they told me to slag people off but it's not in my nature, I would rather talk to people.
"If they trust you they'll tell you things they'd never tell you if you're slagging them off - and we've been together ever since."
Alan did Night Owls Crazy Night from 1979 before heading the Night Owls programme.
He has won three Radio Academy Sony Awards and one Arqiva award. Last year, he picked up Gold at the New York Radio Awards for best radio personality - local market.
Over the past 43 years, Alan says he has broadcast from 'pretty much every continent', done bungee jumps out of planes and followed in the footsteps of famous pirates in the Caribbean.
But, he says, "The people are the highlight - you never know what you're going to get.
"People think 'Night Owls, drunken people', but in over 40 years we've never had a drunk.
I've had barristers tell me about their most recent case, I've had children telling me what they're doing at school. "This is the North East, and Night Owls is a part of that."
He says he was twice called in by Northumbria Police to talk down potential jumpers from the Tyne Bridge.
The last episode of Night Owls on Metro Radio and TFM was special extended episode, running from 7pm to 2am, and was a celebration of his career, featuring highlights from over the decades.
Alan in the studio As he prepared to host his final show, Alan said: "We've all got our heroes and most of them have grown up with me, like Ant and Dec.
"Matt Baker's interviewed a thousand stars, but when he came in here he was like jelly. The fact that anyone's heard of me is a huge honour - I'm just a scrote from the West End, my family had nothing, but we've managed to make a dent." And it was an emotional Alan who finally signed off at 2am yesterday. He thanked his team and promised he wouldn't break down - only to come close to doing just that. He ended with his customary sign-off: "Good night, God bless you and I wish you well."
Today a woman in a shop just burst out crying and cuddled usAlan Robson
Alan in the studio