Episode 2 of 6
Paul Gambaccini continues his six-part history of music radio in the UK and USA.
The second programme traces developments from the end of the Second World War, to the early 60s. The war had demonstrated the central role of radio in the lives of listeners. And in post-war America, large companies wished to remain part of that relationship with sponsored network shows.
Philco Radio Time with Bing Crosby introduced a revolutionary technical innovation. The edition broadcast on 1 October 1947 was the first American show to be recorded on tape.
In the 1950s American radio was changed forever when minority music such as country and rhythm and blues began to spread through the airwaves. Alan Freed was a pioneer rhythm and blues DJ, first heard in Cleveland, and then on WINS in New York. Hunter Hancock played a similar role in Los Angeles. And 'Jumpin' George Oxford was a ground breaker in San Francisco.
It was impossible to hear rhythm and blues on the BBC in the mid-50s. Even shows featuring gramophone records were still rare on the BBC Light Programme. Family Favourites and Housewives' Choice were two record request shows attracting huge audiences.
The most innovative BBC DJ of the late 40s and 1950s was Jack Jackson. He was also heard on Radio Luxembourg, which had resumed its broadcasts to the UK in 1946. The station offered an alternative to both the presentation style and music policy of the BBC. One of its innovations was a Top Twenty chart show.
The BBC eventually responded - seven years later - with its own show of best-sellers called Pick Of The Pops! After a long run on the programme, David Jacobs was replaced by a broadcaster with experience of a more dynamic style of presentation - Australian DJ Alan Freeman. When asked what he thought of British radio, he replied, "It's a bit dull, love, isn't it?".