FOR nearly 35 years he was the voice of Radio Solent.

Now one of the station’s most popular presenters is making a return – three years after leaving.

Nick Girdler is to host a new Sunday morning show running from 9am until midday from June 14.

He will replace Millbrook-born entertainer and DJ Mike Osman who said it was “100 per cent” his decision to leave the programme he has presented for the past 18 months.

Daily Echo: Click below to see a video of today's headlines in sixty seconds

“I decided in January that I was probably going to leave and they asked me to stay until May,” he said.

“I always decide when is the right time to go. It’s a tough slot between God and gardening but I have enjoyed every minute of it and I wish Nick all the very best.”

Mike, 49, who presents a Saturday show on Smooth FM with Chris Tarrant, said station bosses have already asked if they can call him for any future projects.

Meanwhile Nick’s return to the station has been widely welcomed by his loyal fans who never gave up hope the 58-year-old would return to the airwaves.

They even started an online petition which collected 231 signatures to have him reinstated.

Petition organiser Margaret Amy, 61, of Shirley, Southampton, said: “A lot of people have greatly missed Nick since he left Radio Solent.

“He is very highly talented, has a wonderful wit, and a great rapport with the listeners.”

Nick, who lives in Hampshire, said he’s looking forward to returning to the station.

“Broadcasting never leaves your blood, especially after all the time I’ve spent doing it.” he said.

“I know and love the Solent patch and the station’s army of loyal listeners. I can’t wait to get back on the air.”

BBC Radio Solent managing editor Chris Carnegy said: “It’ll be great to welcome him back to his spiritual home”.

Nick hung up his headphones in 2006 to go sailing around Britain's coastline in his yacht. His sudden departure coincided with the axing of many popular presenters including Richard Cartridge, and Peter White under former station manager Mia Costello.