BBC Radio 1

Template:Radio station

BBC Radio 1 is a British radio station, specialising in popular music aimed at a young audience (children, teenagers and young adults). Radio 1 was launched at 7am on September 30, 1967 as a direct response to the popularity of illegal pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline.



The first DJ to broadcast on the new station was Tony Blackburn, whose (sometimes sickeningly) cheery style won him the prime slot on what became known as the "breakfast show". The first record played on Radio 1 was Flowers in the Rain by The Move. The breakfast programme remains the most prized slot in the Radio 1 schedules, with every change of presenter exciting considerable media interest.

The initial rota of staff included the legendary John Peel (with the station until his untimely death in October 2004) and a gaggle of others, some hired from pirates, such as Ed Stewart, Terry Wogan, Jimmy Young, Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, Pete Murray, and Bob Holness.

Radio 1 initially broadcast on 1214Khz mediumwave (or 247 metres as it was referred to at the time) and moved to 1053/1089Khz (275/285 metres)in 1978 (it was the only BBC National station without an FM frequency). In the 1970s and early 1980s it was allowed to take over Radio 2's FM transmitters for a few hours per week, most notably for the Top 40 Singles Chart on Sunday afternoons. In 1988 the 97–99 MHz frequencies became available when the existing police communication allocation changed, and Radio 1 acquired them for its own national FM network. Its old mediumwave frequencies were reallocated to commercial stations in 1994. In the 1990s it also began broadcasting on Sky Television's analogue satellite, initially in mono and later in stereo. Today it can be heard on DAB, Freeview, Sky Digital and the Internet as well as FM.

There were major changes to the station in the mid 1990s by the then controller, Matthew Bannister. He led a campaign to rid the station of its 'Smashie and Nicey' image and revert it to a youth station catering for the under 25s. Although originally launched as a youth station, by the early 1990s, its loyal listeners (and DJs) had aged with the station over its 25 year history. Bannister had a ruthless purge of the older DJs and banned old music (typically anything recorded before 1990) from the daytime playlist. Listeners rebelled as the first new DJs to be introduced represented a crossover from other parts of the BBC media empire with Emma Freud and Danny Baker. Bannister promoted Chris Evans to the prime morning slot even though Evans' own media interests were in conflict with the public benefit remit of the station. Evans was eventually sacked in 1996, and was replaced by Mark Radcliffe (along with his sidekick Marc Riley), who was in turn replaced by Zoe Ball just 6 months later in October 1997. Listening figures continued to decline but the station succeeded in its aim to target a younger age group. In 2000, Zoe Ball was replaced by friend and fellow laddette Sara Cox, but despite heavy promotion listening figures for the iconic breakfast show continued to fall. In 2004 Cox was replaced by Chris Moyles and early signs are that Moyles has managed to arrest the decline adding 700,000 listeners in his first few months.

Ironically, many of the DJs ousted by Bannister (such as Johnnie Walker and Steve Wright) joined Radio 2 which has currently overtaken Radio 1 as the UK's most popular radio station, using a style that Radio 1 had up until the early 1990s


Radio 1 is notable for the range of music it plays. While most commercial stations concentrate on a particular theme, such as 1980s music or "classic rock", Radio 1 plays a diverse mix of current songs, including independent/alternative, rock, house/electronica, drum 'n' bass, world, pop and rap.

Due to restrictions on the amount of commercial music that could be played on radio in the UK until 1988 (the so-called "needle time" limitation) the station has recorded a great many live performances and studio sessions over the years, many of which have subsequently (and perhaps ironically) found their way onto commercially-available LPs and CDs. There have also been innumerable rockumentary shows and interviews. Although this type of programming arose from necessity it has given the station some much-needed diversity.


Current presenters on this station include Steve Lamacq, Zane Lowe, Mary Ann Hobbs, and Mike Davies, who all host their own respective rock and indie orientated shows. Also in the station's stable are R&B, garage and rap supremos such as Tim Westwood, The Dreem Teem and Trevor Nelson. Club DJs Pete Tong and Judge Jules, amongst many others all present their own weekend dance shows. With these music specialists presenting in the evenings, the daytime schedules are mostly taken up by less specialised, more mainstream shows primarily hosted by Chris Moyles at breakfast (06:55–10:00), Jo Whiley (10:00–13:00), Colin and Edith (13:00–16:00), Scott Mills (16:00–19:00), Zane Lowe (19:00–21:00) and Nemone (04:00–06:55). Following the untimely death of John Peel in October 2004, Annie Nightingale is now the longest serving presenter at the station having worked their since 1969. Her show can be heard Fridays (01:00–03:00).


Aside from the daily scheduled programmes, Radio 1 also broadcasts a number of special programmes throughout the week. One of these is The Official UK Chart, broadcast on Sundays from 4–7 pm.

See also

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