Radio 1, the BBC pop music radio station is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. Before its launch in 1967, there was no commercial radio, and the existing BBC stations broadcast a mixture of speech and music, but very little pop music. Pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline were very popular, but were made illegal.
Radio 1 was a new sound for the BBC. In its first show, hosted by Tony Blackburn, radio jingles were used for the first time on the BBC. The radio station has been very influential over the years, and has attracted huge audiences.
The format is mainly recent pop records played by DJs, the station also broadcasts interviews with pop stars, and short news bulletins. Radio 1 broadcasts a variety of music, including rock, pop, dance, hip hop, and rap.
The station has always been dedicated to encouraging new musical talent in the UK. John Peel, a DJ who broadcast on Radio 1 from 1967 until his death in 2004, was particularly well known for giving airplay to unsigned bands and artists who sent him demos.
Radio 1 has also been very involved in live music over the years. The station regularly organises concerts and live music events, and frequently records exclusive live performances at their studios. In 1985, Radio 1 broadcast the whole of the LiveAid event, a hugely important charity concert.
Up to the early 1990s Radio 1 was Britain’s most listened to radio station. However, as commercial radio was introduced and became very widespread in the UK, Radio 1 lost some of its audience. Radio 1 has always broadcast the UK singles chart, but in recent years, the independent radio chart has outstripped the Radio 1 Chart Show’s listener figures.
These days the target audience is specifically young people – between 13 and 25. The new breakfast show host, Chris Moyles has been hailed as the ‘Saviour of Radio 1’, and has hugely increased audience figures.
The station is celebrating the anniversary with a series of shows hosted by legendary pop stars, cover versions of classic songs by modern bands, and a nostalgic ‘golden hour’ of older music including songs from 1967 to today.