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BBC Radio 1 is a Britishmarker national radio station operated by the BBC which also broadcasts internationally, specialising in current popular music and chart hits throughout the day. Radio 1 provides alternative genres after 7:00pm including electronic dance, hip hop, rock or interviews. It is aimed primarily at the 15–29 age group. Radio 1 was launched at 7:00am on 30 September 1967 as a direct response to the popularity of offshore pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, which had been outlawed by Act of Parliament.


First broadcast

The first DJ to broadcast on the new station was Tony Blackburn, whose cheery style, first heard on Radio Caroline and 'Wonderful Radio London', won him the prime slot on what became known as the "Radio 1 Breakfast Show" (although its original formal title, as shown in the Radio Times was Daily Disc Delivery, while Blackburn himself referred to it eponymously as the Tony Blackburn Show). The first words on Radio 1 – after a "countdown" by the Controller of Radios 1 and 2, Robin Scott, and a jingle, recorded at PAMS in Dallasmarker, Texasmarker, beginning "The voice of Radio 1" – were "... And, good morning everyone. Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1". This was the first use of US-style jingles on BBC radio, but the style was familiar to listeners who were acquainted with Blackburn and other DJs from their days on pirate radio. The first complete record played on Radio 1 was "Flowers in the Rain" by The Move (although technically the first music played was "Theme One" by George Martin leading into part of "Beefeaters (On Parade)" by Johnny Dankworth, Blackburn's signature tune carried over from pirate radio). The second single was "Massachusetts" by The Bee Gees. There has been some speculation that the inclusion of "Flowers in the Rain" was intended to signal the end of the "flower power" "Summer of Love" of 1967. The breakfast show remains the most prized slot in the Radio 1 schedule, with every change of breakfast show presenter exciting considerable media interest.The initial rota of staff included John Peel (who remained with the station until his 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, Simon Dee, Pete Murray, and Bob Holness. Annie Nightingale, who joined just after the launch in 1970, was effectively Britain's first female DJ and is now the longest serving presenter, having constantly evolved her musical tastes with the times.

Seventies peak

Initially, the station was unpopular with some of its target audience who, it is claimed, disliked the fact that much of its airtime was shared with Radio 2 and that it was less unequivocally aimed at a young audience than the offshore stations, with some DJs such as Jimmy Young being in their 40s. The very fact that it was part of an "establishment" institution such as the BBC was a turn-off for some, and needle time restrictions prevented it from playing as many records as offshore stations had. It also had limited finances (partially because the BBC did not increase its licence fee to fund the new station) and often, as in January 1975, suffered disproportionately when the BBC had to make financial cutbacks, strengthening an impression that it was regarded as a lower priority by senior BBC executives.

Despite this, it gained massive audiences, becoming the most listened to station in the world with audiences of over 10 million claimed for some of its shows (up to 20 million for Blackburn's Breakfast Show). In the early-mid 1970s Radio 1 presenters were rarely out of the British tabloids. The popularity of its touring summer live broadcasts the Radio 1 Roadshow drew some of the largest crowds of the decade and the station undoubtedly played a role in maintaining the high sales of 45 rpm single records although it benefited from a lack of competition. (Independent Local Radio did not begin until October 1973 and took many years to cover virtually all of the UK).

Nineties changes

In his last few months as controller, Johnny Beerling commissioned a handful of new shows that in some ways set the tone for what was to come under Matthew Bannister. One of these "Loud'n'proud" was the UK's first national radio series aimed at a gay audience (made in Manchestermarker and aired from August 1993). Far from being a parting quirk, the show was a surprise hit and led to the network's first coverage of the large outdoor Gay Pride event in 1994. Bannister took the reins fully in October 1993. His aim was to rid the station of its 'Smashie and Nicey' image and make it appeal to 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. Many long-standing DJs, such as Simon Bates, Dave Lee Travis, Alan Freeman, Bob Harris, Gary Davies, and later Steve Wright, Bruno Brookes and Johnnie Walker left the station or were sacked, and in January 1995 old music (typically anything recorded before 1990) was banned from the daytime playlist.

Many listeners rebelled as the first new DJs to be introduced represented a crossover from other parts of the BBC (notably Bannister and Trevor Dann's former colleagues at the BBC's London station, GLR) with Emma Freud and Danny Baker. Another problem was that, at the time, Radio 2 was sticking resolutely to a format which appealed mainly to those who had been listening since the days of the Light Programme, and commercial radio, which was targeting the "Radio 1 and a half" audience, consequently enjoyed a massive increase in its audience share at the expense of Radio One.

After the departure of Steve Wright, who had been unsuccessfully moved from his long-running afternoon show to the breakfast show in January 1994, Bannister hired Chris Evans to present the prime morning slot in April 1995. Evans was a popular but controversial presenter who was eventually sacked in 1997 after he demanded to present the breakfast show for only four days per week. Evans was replaced from February 17, 1997 by Mark and LardMark Radcliffe (along with his sidekick Marc Riley), who found the slick, mass-audience style required for a breakfast show did not come naturally to them. They were replaced by Zoe Ball and Kevin Greening eight months later in October 1997, with Greening moving on and leaving Ball as solo presenter. The re-invention of the station happened at a fortuitous time, with the rise of Britpop in the mid-90s – bands like Oasis, Blur and Pulp were popular and credible at the time and the station's popularity rose with them. Documentaries like John Peel's "Lost In Music" which looked at the influence that the use of drugs have had over popular musicians received critical acclaim but were slated inside Broadcasting Housemarker.

Later in the 90s the Britpop boom declined, and manufactured chart pop (boy bands and acts aimed at sub-teenagers) came to dominate the charts. New-genre music occupied the evenings (indie on weekdays and dance at weekends), with a mix of specialist shows and playlist fillers through late nights. The rise of rave culture through the late 80s and early 90s gave the station the opportunity to move into a controversial and youth-orientated movement by bringing in a club DJ, Pete Tong. This quickly gave birth to the Essential Mix where underground DJs mixed rave and club based music in a two hour slot. Dance music has been a permanent feature on Radio 1 since with club DJ's such as Judge Jules, Danny Rampling and Seb Fontaine all having shows as well as Radio 1 hosting an annual weekend in Ibizamarker.

Listening figures continued to decline but the station succeeded in targeting a younger age-group. Eventually, this change in content was reflected by a rise in audience that is continuing to this day. Notably, the station has received praise for shows such as The Sunday Surgery, Bobby Friction and Nihal, The Evening Session with Steve Lamacq and its successor Zane Lowe. Its website has also been well received.

A new evening schedule was introduced in September 2006, dividing the week by genre. Monday is mainly pop-funkrock-oriented, Tuesday is R&B and hip-hop, Thursday and Friday are primarily dance, with specialist R&B and reggae shows.

However, the breakfast show and the UK Top 40 continued to struggle. In 2000, Zoe Ball was replaced in the mornings by friend and fellow ladette Sara Cox, but, despite heavy promotion, listening figures for the breakfast show continued to fall. In 2004 Cox was replaced by Chris Moyles. The newly rebranded breakfast show is known as The Chris Moyles Show and has increased its audience, now ahead of The Today Programme on Radio 4 as the second most popular breakfast show (after 'Wake up with Wogan' hosted by Terry Wogan), Moyles though continued to use innovative ways to try to tempt listeners from the 'Wake up with Wogan' show by, in 2006, creating a 'SAY NO TO WOGAN' campaign live on-air, this angered the BBC hierarchy though the row simmered down when it was clear that the 'campaign' had totally failed to alter the listening trends of the time – Wogan still increases figures at a faster rate than Moyles. The chart show's ratings fell after the departure of long-time host Mark Goodier, amid falling single sales in the UK. Ratings for the show fell in 2002 whilst Goodier was still presenting the show, meaning that commercial radio's Network Chart overtook it in the ratings for the first time. However, the BBC denied he was being sacked. The BBC show now competes with networked commercial radio's The Big Top 40 Show which is broadcast at the same time.

Many DJs either ousted by Bannister or who left during his tenure (such as Johnnie Walker, Bob Harris and Steve Wright) have joined Radio 2 which has now overtaken Radio 1 as the UK's most popular radio station, using a style that Radio 1 had until the early 1990s.

The success of Moyles' show has come alongside increased success for the station in general. In 2006, DJs Chris Moyles, Scott Mills and Zane Lowe all won gold Sony Radio Awards, while the station itself came away with the best station award.

Following the death of John Peel in October 2004, Annie Nightingale is now the longest serving presenter, having worked there since 1970.

40th birthday

On 30 September 2007, Radio 1 celebrated its 40th birthday. To mark this anniversary Radio 1 hosted special features, including:
  • Special shows hosted by music legends at 9:00pm each weekday.
  • Between 9:00am and 10:00am on the Chris Moyles show, the best music from the last 40 years (a re-creation of Simon Bates' Golden Hour).
  • Playing Radio 1's old jingles, which were created by JAM productions of Dallas.
  • 40 different artists performed 40 different covers, one from each year since Radio 1 was established. All 40 songs were played in the weeks leading up to the release of the compilation album Radio 1 Established 1967.


As of 21 September 2009, the main weekday presenters on the network include: Dev (early breakfast), Chris Moyles (breakfast), Fearne Cotton (mid-mornings), Greg James (afternoons), Scott Mills (drive-time), Zane Lowe (evenings), and Nick Grimshaw (nights).

Evenings and overnights play host to eclectic and specialised content.

The weekend daytime slots now house a number of former prominent daytime presenters, including Jo Whiley (afternoons), Sara Cox (Sunday mid-morning) and Edith Bowman (breakfast).

Saturday evenings include twelve hours of urban music which, since October 2009, has been simulcast entirely on 1Xtra. Sunday evenings include the Switch magazine show, advice show The Surgery and, since September 2009, replays of the previous week's 9pm Mon-Thu shows.

A number of new programs have also been introduced, including a weekly review show hosted by DJ Nihal.



From inception for over 20 years, Radio 1 broadcast from an adjacent pair of continuity suites (originally Con A and Con B) in the main control room of Broadcasting Housemarker. These cons were configured to allow DJs to operate the equipment themselves and play their own records and jingle cartridges (called self-op). This was a departure from traditional BBC practice, where a studio manager would play in discs from the studio control cubicle. Due to needle time restrictions much of the music was played from tapes of BBC session recordings. The DJs were assisted by one or more technical operators (TOs) who would set up tapes and control sound levels during broadcasts.

The current studios are located in the basement of Yalding Housemarker (near to BBC Broadcasting House) which is on Great Portland Streetmarker in central Londonmarker. The station moved there in 1996 from Egton Housemarker, which was demolished in 2003 to make way for the extensions to Broadcasting Housemarker.

Radio 1 also uses the BBC Maida Vale Studiosmarker in West London, where artists record music sessions for various shows, including the popular Live Lounge for The Jo Whiley Show. There are also live performances held there in front of Radio 1 competition winners.

Programmes have also regularly been broadcast from the regions, notably the Mark and Lard show, broadcast every weekday from New Broadcasting House, Oxford Road, Manchestermarker for over a decade (October 1993-March 2004) – the longest regular broadcast on the network from outside the capital.

UK analogue frequencies

Radio 1 initially broadcast on 1214 kHz medium wave (or 247 metres as it was referred to at the time) and moved to 1053/1089 kHz (275/285 m) on 23 November 1978. (It was the only BBC National station without a dedicated 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 – Saturday afternoons, Sunday teatime and evening – most notably for the Top 40 Singles Chart on Sunday afternoons – and 10:00 pm to midnight on weeknights including Sounds of the Seventies until 1975, and thereafter the John Peel show. 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. This was rolled out as of 1 September 1988, starting with the Central Scotland, Midlands & Yorkshire areas (FM broadcasts were available in London as of 31 October 1987, but this was at low power on 104.8 MHz FM – see here). Its old medium wave frequencies were reallocated to commercial stations in 1994 (Radio 1's last broadcast on MW was on 1 July that year, with Stephen Duffy's "Kiss Me" being the last record played on MW just before 9:00am). In the 1990s it also began broadcasting on spare audio subcarriers on Sky Television's analogue satellite service, initially in mono (on UK Gold) and later in stereo (on UK Living).

Digital distribution

Today it can be heard on DAB, Freeview, Virgin Media, Sky Digital and the Internet as well as FM. In July 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio began simulcasting Radio 1 across the United Statesmarker as channel 11 on its own service and channel 6011 on Dish Network satellite TV. Sirius Canada began simulcasting Radio 1 when they launched on 1 December 2005 (also on channel 11). The Sirius simulcasts are time shifted five hours to allow U.S. and Canadian listeners in the Eastern Time Zone to hear Radio 1 at the same time of day as UK listeners. On 12 November 2008, Radio 1 made its debut on XM Satellite Radio in both the US and Canada on channel 29. Radio 1 will now reach approximately 20.6 million listeners in North America on satellite radio alone.


Since 1999, Radio 1 has split the home nations for localised programming in Scotlandmarker, Walesmarker and Northern Irelandmarker, to allow the broadcast of a showcase programme for regional talent.

Scotland's show is presented by Vic Galloway (who also presents for BBC Radio Scotland); he has presented the Radio 1 show on his own since 2004, after original co-host Gill Mills departed.

Wales's show is hosted by Bethan Elfyn, who previously hosted as part of a duo with Huw Stephens, until Stephens left to join the national network (Stephens can still be heard in Wales, as he also broadcasts Welsh-language music programming on BBC Radio Cymru, and hosts Radio 1's Wednesday 9pm-10pm show.)

Rory McConnell currently presents the Northern Irish programme. Before joining the national network, Colin Murray was a presenter on the Session In Northern Ireland, along with Donna Legge; after Murray's promotion to the network Legge hosted alone for a time, and on her departure McConnell took her place.

The regional opt-outs originally went out from 8:00pm to 10:00pm on Thursdays (the Evening Session's time slot) and were known as the Session In The Nations (the 'Session' tag was later dropped due to the demise of the Evening Session); they later moved to run from 7:30pm to 9:00pm, with the first half hour of Zane Lowe's programme going out across the whole of the UK. Since the early hours of 18 October 2007 the regional programmes have aired Wednesday night/Thursday mornings from 12:00am to 2:00am under the BBC Introducing banner, allowing Lowe's Thursday show to air across the network; prior to this change Huw Stephens had presented the Wednesday midnight show nationally, and continues to host the slot in England.

This practice has also been used in Radio 1's T in the Park coverage where broadcasts to Scotland provide extended coverage of the festival which the rest of the United Kingdommarker does not receive (it instead has the normal Radio 1 schedule). This Scotland-only coverage has been presented by Vic Galloway in recent years.

These opt-outs are only available to listeners on the FM frequencies. Because of the way the DAB and digital TV services of Radio 1 are broadcast (a single-frequency network on DAB and a single broadcast feed of R1 on TV platforms), the digital version of the station cannot currently be regionalised.


Years served Controller
1967–1968 Robin Scott
1968–1976 Douglas Muggeridge
1976–1978 Charles McLelland
1978–1985 Derek Chinnery
1985–1993 Johnny Beerling
1993–1998 Matthew Bannister
1998–present Andy Parfitt



While most commercial stations concentrate on a theme, such as 1980s music or classic rock, Radio 1 plays a mix of current songs, including independent/alternative, Gangsta Rap, Hip Hop, Rock, House Music, Electronica, Dance Music, Drum N' Bass and Pop Music. Although Heavy Metal, Punk rock and Gothic rock music is not often featured on radio 1.

Due to restrictions on the amount of commercial music that could be played on radio in the UK until 1988 (the "needle time" limitation) the station has recorded many live performances and studio sessions, many of which have found their way to commercially-available LPs and CDs. The station also broadcasts documentaries and interviews. Although this type of programming arose from necessity it has given the station diversity. The needletime restrictions meant the station tended to have a higher level of speech by DJs. While the station is often criticised for "waffling" by presenters, an experimental "more music day" in 1988 was declared a failure after only a third of callers favoured it.

News and current affairs

Radio 1 has a public service broadcasting obligation to provide news, which it fulfills through Newsbeat bulletins throughout the day. Short news summaries are provided roughly hourly on the half hour during daytime hours with two 15-minute bulletins at 12:45pm and 5:45pm. The main presenter is Tulip Mazumdar. However, there are other presenters, such as Dominic Byrne and Carrie Davies who read the news and sport (respectively) on the Chris Moyles Show and Mark Chapman and David Garrido who read the sports news in the afternoon on the Scott Mills show.

Notable programming

The Radio 1 Chart Show

Radio 1's long-running chart show broadcasts on Sunday afternoons between 4:00pm and 7:00pm; it has always ended at 7:00pm since the station's inception, although the format, length and starting time have varied. From 15 March 1992 through 2 February 2003, the format was a countdown of all the top 40 selling singles in the UK for that week, from 40 to 1. Since that date, the show has taken on new presenters (currently Reggie Yates) and a more chat-oriented format. The show no longer plays all the top 40 singles; instead, the entire top 20 is played along with a selection of tracks between 21 and 40, interviews and other features. The chart is compiled by The Official UK Charts Company; Radio 1 is the only station to broadcast the "official" UK singles chart.

On 14 October 2007, Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates replaced JK & Joel as hosts of the Chart Show. Fearne Cotton became the first regular female presenter of the UK Top 40. Jo Whiley became the first female to present the UK Top 40 on 24 November 2002 (a week after Mark Goodier's departure from the show) as a string of one-off presenters each week until Scott Mills presented the UK Top 40 each week from 5 January 2003 until 2 February 2003. Wes Butters launched the Chart Show on 9 February 2003. Before this date the Chart Show was known as "The Official UK Top 40."

Chart Show history
From To Presenter Format
1 October 1967 24 September 1972 Alan Freeman Known as Pick of the Pops and featured new entries between numbers 21 and 30 and the complete Top 20.
1 October 1972 17 March 1974 Tom Browne A three-hour show called Solid Gold Sixty featuring new releases, climbers and chart entries below the Top 20 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, followed by the Top 20 itself from 6:00pm to 7:00pm
24 March 1974 26 March 1978 Reduced to just the Top 20, running from 6:00pm to 7:00pm
2 April 1978 5 November 1978 Simon Bates
12 November 1978 26 August 1979 Extended to a two-hour Top 40 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm
2 September 1979 3 January 1982 Tony Blackburn
10 January 1982 1 January 1984 Tommy Vance
8 January 1984 23 September 1984 Simon Bates
30 September 1984 around March/April 1986 Richard Skinner
around March/April 1986 23 September 1990 Bruno Brookes
30 September 1990 30 December 1990 Mark Goodier
6 January 1991 1 March 1992 Extended to a two-and-a-half-hour Top 40 from 4:30pm to 7:00pm
8 March 1992 Tommy Vance
15 March 1992 16 April 1995 Bruno Brookes Extended to a three-hour Top 40 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm
23 April 1995 17 November 2002 Mark Goodier
24 November 2002 2 February 2003 Various
9 February 2003 30 January 2005 Wes Butters
6 February 2005 27 February 2005 Scott Mills, Edith Bowman, Nemone, DJ Spoony, Vernon Kay, Colin Murray, Jo Whiley
6 March 2005 30 September 2007 JK and Joel
14 October 2007 20th September 2009 Fearne Cotton,
Reggie Yates
27 September 2009 Present Reggie Yates

Weekday Breakfast Show

The breakfast show has been presented by many famous names over the years (see Radio 1 Breakfast Show presenters for more details).

Currently this slot is broadcast between 6:30am and 10:00am, Monday to Friday and has been hosted since January 2004 by Chris Moyles and his team under the alternative title The Chris Moyles Show.

Weekday Drivetime Show

The current weekday Drivetime show is hosted by Scott Mills, under the title The Scott Mills Show. Notable former presenters include Sara Cox, Chris Moyles and Dave Pearce. The show currently broadcasts from 4:00pm until 7:00pm every weekday, with a 15 minute break at 5:45pm for Newsbeat. Scott Mills is usually joined by Newsbeat journalist Andrew Mark Chapman and assistant producer Becky Huxtable.

The 10 Hour Takeover

The 10 Hour Takeover is a stunt event run on some Bank Holiday Mondays and other public holidays since 2004, the first having aired on Easter Monday of that year. The event is a request-based special, in which the DJs on air will encourage listeners to select any available track to play. Due to the BBC's long-established and broad-scope music archive, it is often possible for a wide range of songs to be played, and as such the mix of music played may be more diverse than that on a normal playlist-led day, with greater use of older songs, underground tracks, and genres not usually heard on Radio 1, although listeners are also free to request current and recent playlist tracks should they so wish.

Public events

Radio 1 Roadshows
The Radio 1 Roadshows, which usually involved Radio 1 DJs and pop stars travelling around popular UK seaside destinations, began in 1973, hosted by Alan Freeman in Newquaymarker, Cornwallmarker, with the final one held at Heaton Parkmarker, Manchestermarker in 1999. Although the Roadshow style changed with the style of the station itself—such as the introduction of whistlestop audio postcards of each location in 1994 ("2minuteTour")—they were still considered rooted in the "cheesy" old style of the station, and, in the 1980s, they sometimes featured elements which would be seen as highly politically incorrect today, such as wet T-shirt contests.

Roadshow rebranding
In March 2000, Radio 1 decided to change the Roadshow format, renaming it One Big Sunday in the process. Several of these Sundays were held in large city-centre parks. In 2003, the event changed again and was rebranded One Big Weekend, with each event occurring biannually and covering two days. Under this name, it visited Derrymarker in Northern Irelandmarker, as part of the Music Lives campaign, and Perry Park in Birminghammarker.

The most recent change occurred in 2005 when the event was yet again renamed and the decision taken to hold only one per year, this time as Radio 1's Big Weekend. Venues under this title have included Herrington Country Parkmarker, Camperdown Country Parkmarker, Moor Parkmarker–which was the first Weekend to feature a third stage–Mote Parkmarker and Lydiard Park.

Tickets for each Big Weekend are given away free of charge, making it the largest free music festival in Europe.

Radio 1 Switch Live
The first ever BBC Switch Live was held on 12 October 2008 at the Hammersmith Apollomarker. With performances from McFly, Fall out Boy, Ne-Yo, Miley Cyrus, Basshunter, N-Dubz and George Sampson. The event was hosted by Annie Mac, Nick Grimshaw, Kelly Osbourne, Fearne Cotton, Greg James and Tom Deacon. The event was strictly for 14 to 17 years only and was recorded for BBC Switch's show Sound which is shown on BBC Two and is presented by Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw.

Other events
On 18 July 2008, Radio 1 broadcast live from BCM Square, Magaluf, Mallorcamarker as part of their Summer Season 2008. The broadcast started at 4:00pm with Greg James and Judge Jules presenting. Then from 7:00pm to 9:00pm it was back to the London Studio with Pete Tong, and from 9:00pm to 11:00pm it was Kissy Sell Out standing in for Annie Mac with Annie Mac's Mash Up. Then at 11:00pm it was back to Mallorca for Dave Pearce's Dance Anthems. At 1:00am Judge Jules was back to end the night in the BCM Night Club.

See also


Further reading

External links

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