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BBC Radio 2

Tony Blackburn

Hear Tony present Pick of the Pops, Saturdays, 1-3pm

A broadcasting icon and one of Britain's best known DJ's, Tony is a legend of the airwaves who helped inspire the cult of the radio DJ.

He's presented radio shows for several stations including Smooth Radio, BBC London, KMFM, KCFM and now BBC Radio 2's much loved Pick of the Pops programme, where he followed in the footsteps of Alan Freeman and Dale Winton.

Tony has thirty-six awards to his name including, in 1989, the Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Radio. He was also awarded the Best Breakfast Show (Contemporary Music) by Sony Radio Awards in 1993 and The Radio Academy Music and Media Award for outstanding contribution to Music and Radio in 1997.

Born in Guildford, Surrey in 1943, Tony was educated at Millfield Public School in Somerset, and Bournemouth College. The son of a doctor in Lilliput near Poole, Dorset, he made his first public appearance with the Ian Ralfini Dance Orchestra at the Bournemouth Pavilion while at College, and later appeared with various bands in hotels.

Having finished his education, Tony read in the music press that disc jockeys were wanted by a pirate radio station. He applied, got the job, and made his first radio appearance on 28th July 1964 on Radio Caroline South. In 1966, he joined Radio London and introduced the first ever soul programme in the UK.

Tony joined the BBC Light Programme in August 1967 and made his first broadcast on the 'Midday Spin' programme.

When BBC Radio 1 commenced broadcasting on 30 September 1967, Tony presented the daily Breakfast Show, and was the first disc jockey to be heard on the new network. He hosted the Breakfast Show until 1974 when he took over the morning show for several years, followed by Junior Choice. He remained with Radio 1 until 1984.

He then spent some time at BBC London where his soul programme and consequent weekly club nights called 'Soul Nights' became popular.  Six thousand people were regularly turning up including Stevie Wonder on one occasion who wanted to thank Tony for introducing the UK to soul music. 

Tony left BBC London in 1988, leaving to join Capital Radio to launch their new Capital Gold station where he presented his soul shows until December 2002. He subsequently presented Soul shows on Jazz, Smooth and the Real Radio Network before moving to the Classic Gold Network in 2003 to front the Breakfast show which he hosted until 2007.

He joined the Smooth weekend breakfast show in 2008 and added shows to his repertoire on KCFM in Hull and KMFM across Kent. As well as Pick of the Pops, Tony also continues to present a Sunday soul show on BBC London 94.9. His passion for soul music has been an underlying factor in most of his shows. From the days spent with his assistant Dave Pearce, who now also presents a show on BBC Radio 2, when they used to go to New York together to bring back the latest music, to him having the first legal soul show in the UK.

On TV, Tony co-presented ITV's prime-time show 'Animals Do the Funniest Things' which attracted over 7 million viewers, and has made numerous other television appearances over the years.  He hosted his own show 'Time For Blackburn' in 1969, and is also well remembered for presenting the BBC's world famous 'Top Of The Pops' from the late 1960s to throughout the 1970s.  He continues to make regular guest appearances on a wide range of television shows, and in 2002 he was crowned 'King of the Jungle' in the first series of ITV1's 'I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here'.

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