David ‘Kid’ Jensen

One of the UK’s best loved DJs, David ‘Kid’ Jenson, has revealed he has Parkinson’s disease. The 67-year-old veteran broadcaster spoke out to encourage others to remain positive and to raise awareness of the neurological condition.

David "Kid" Jensen

Jensen released an official statement to disclose his condition, saying he had lived with Parkinson’s for five years and wished to demonstrate that someone with the condition could continue with many aspects of their life.

The stalwart of Radio 1 and former Top of the Pops television presenter said initially he was worried about revealing he had Parkinson’s. He felt people might “think less” of him.

However, he has come to realise his fears were unfounded, as he has received a positive response from people. He is using his high profile to back the campaign to find a cure for Parkinson’s and is supporting fundraising charities in their ongoing efforts.

 

Parkinson’s symptoms

Parkinson’s is a condition which leads to parts of the brain becoming progressively damaged over the years. There are three main symptoms, including tremors – involuntary shaking of various parts of the body – inflexible and stiff muscles and slow movement.

Someone with Parkinson’s is also likely to experience other physical and psychological symptoms, such as problems with balance, depression, insomnia and difficulties in remembering things. It is estimated one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s and 127,000 people in the UK are believed to have the condition.

Although there’s currently no cure, treatments can reduce the main symptoms and ensure a good quality of life is maintained for as long as possible.

 

Early career

Jensen has been involved in broadcasting his whole life. Born in Canada, he joined Radio Luxembourg in 1968 when he was just 18, as a resident DJ.

He earned his nickname, “Kid” Jensen, due to him being the youngest DJ at the radio station at the time. He was believed to be the youngest DJ in the whole of Europe.

Jensen had gained celebrity status by the mid-1970s and in 1974, he became a TV personality in Britain, presenting ITV pop shows. By this time, he had a radio job in the UK, working for Radio Trent – which later became Capital Radio.

 

Household name

He joined the BBC in 1976 and became a household name very quickly. Through presenting Top of the Pops on BBC1, he became high profile. He was known as a young, progressive DJ, who championed many new acts who were to become superstars, such as The Police and Gary Numan.

Top of the Pops

In 1980, he reverted to his name, David, rather than his nickname. He joked that at 30, he felt too old to be called “Kid”! In 1984, he left the BBC and went to work at Capital Radio, where he presented the Network Chart Show.

He also worked at London FM presenting a weekday drive-time show from 1998 and took over the Sunday afternoon chart show. In 2011, he joined Smooth Radio, where he hosted a retro chart show. He left the station in 2013. Today, he is a presenter for BBC Local Radio and hosts the popular weekend show, Kid Jensen’s Flashback 40.

 

Diagnosis

When he was first diagnosed as having Parkinson’s, he felt “self-conscious and self-obsessive” if a tremor started in his hands, as he felt like everyone was looking at him. He has now come to accept his condition and says he wants to prove to others that “it’s not a death sentence”. He says there are far worse things in life than Parkinson’s, which is something you can live with.

Jensen’s old friends, Sky Sports broadcaster Dave Clark and comedian Billy Connolly, were unintentionally instrumental in the DJ’s public revelation that he had Parkinson’s. Jensen said that after he learned how Connolly and Clark had Parkinson’s and that they were fundraising for charities, he felt it was time for him to reveal his own situation.

Thanking his family – including his wife of 43 years, Gudrun, their three children and seven grandchildren – and his friends for all their support, he says they are all aware now that he has Parkinson’s and continue to offer support, love and understanding. He now hopes to raise further awareness of Parkinson’s and to aid fundraising activities.

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