Episode 3 of 6
Paul Gambaccini continues his six-part history of music radio in the UK and USA. The third programme traces the developments that led to the start of the BBC's first dedicated channel for pop music - Radio 1 - in September 1967.
In the early 1960s, pop music on BBC radio was severely rationed. Its only show to play the week's best-selling records was Pick Of The Pops, presented by Alan Freeman. Pop was dominating the world, but it was hardly heard on UK radio. The public demanded a change. The change came, but it didn't come from the BBC. A form of popular music radio developed that was deeply influenced by recent changes in the United States. Writer Ben Fong-Torres explains the rise of the US radio format called Top 40 and we hear from New York veteran DJs Cousin Brucie, Harry Harrison and Dan Ingram.
In 1964, UK listeners had a choice other than the BBC and Radio Luxembourg for the first time since the Second World
War. Stations on ships anchored outside the UK's three-mile territorial limit were outside the law of the country, so they began broadcasting as many records and commercials as they liked. First on the air at Easter was Radio Caroline. By Christmas 1964, independent commercial radio took a great leap forward with the arrival of 'Big L' Radio London. It had American financial backing and introduced the Top 40 format to the UK.
Tony Blackburn, Dave Cash and Johnnie Walker recall how their careers were launched on boats in the North Sea and how the pirate era led to the birth of Radio 1.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.