Radio Reinvented

100 Voices that made the BBC

Image: The lineup of BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 DJs in September 1967. Back Row: Tony Blackburn, Jimmy Young, Kenny Everett, Duncan Johnson, Robin Scott (Controller R1 & R2), David Ryder, Dave Cash, Pete Brady and David Symonds. Middle Row: Bob Holness, Terry Wogan, Barry Alldis, Mike Lennox, Keith Skues, Chris Denning, Johnny Moran and Peter Myers. Front row: Pete Murray, Ed Stewart, Pete Drummond, Mike Raven, Mike Ahern and John Peel.

On 30 September 1967 Radio 1 was launched. Pop arrived at the BBC. The Light Programme also changed into Radio 2, the old Third Programme became Radio 3, and the old Home Service emerged as Radio 4. So: was Radio suddenly being reinvented from top to bottom?

In this edition of 100 Voices that Made the BBC, the BBC Connected Histories project is marking fifty years since the start of Radio 1 by making available for the very first time archive interviews with those most closely involved in the events of 1967 – from DJs through programme-makers to senior managers and politicians – with the hope of shedding new light on the inside story of this tumultuous moment in broadcasting history and how it changed radio more widely.

  • Part 1: The PiratesFor many, the arrival of pirates around the shores of Britain in the mid-1960s meant liberation from the tyranny of postwar mundanity. But, to what extent did this cultural rebellion against the established order deliver lasting change?
  • Part 2: LaunchOn 30 September 1967, the pop revolution started by the pirates arrived at the BBC. So, what was happening behind-the-scenes on that tumultuous day? And would the sudden arrival of Radio 1 mark a profound and permanent change of direction in British broadcasting?
  • Part 3: ReactionIn the weeks and months after the launch of Radio 1, how did the listeners - and senior figures inside the BBC - react to the new service? Was it really going to provide a successful replacement for the pirates – and if so, at what cost to the BBC’s reputation?
  • The DJHow did the appearance of a new species of presenter – the Disc Jockey – at Broadcasting House influence the public image of the Corporation and its public service principles?
  • Musical Wallpaper?Did the launch of Radio 1 in 1967 - and with it, the birth of so-called ‘generic’ or ‘streamed’ radio - mean that all music, even ‘serious’ or classical music, would soon be treated as ephemeral background listening by the BBC?
  • Non-Stop NewsWith the arrival of Radio 1 a new pace and style had also arrived on the BBC airwaves. So how did this affect other parts of the Corporation’s radio output – for instance, its news programmes?
  • The Network VoiceWith the informality of the new DJs, was a wider revolution in presentational values now under way across the BBC?
  • The Death of Reithianism?Where did the cultural revolution of the 1960s leave the Reithian principle of bringing viewers 'the best' of culture?
  • The strange survival of Radio dramaDespite speculation its days were numbered, newly-released BBC oral history interviews help us to understand how the battle to save BBC radio drama was won.
  • Listening to RadioHow did the launch of the new radio networks effect viewers' listening habits?
  • Steam Radio or the modern medium?In an era increasingly dominated by television was radio becoming redundant, or could it reinvent itself for a new generation of listeners?
  • Evolution: 1967 and afterDid the launch of Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 distract from the deeper currents of change that had already been sweeping through Broadcasting House?
  • GalleriesRadio re-invented in 50 pictures
  • TimelinesSee the BBC Radio story unfold in our interactive timelines.
  • Share your memoriesWhat do you remember about BBC Radio in 1960s or even earlier? Did the arrival of Radio 1 change your life? Or were you more attached to the Pirate stations or even the old Light, Home or Third?
  • Background to the projectThe unique value of oral history and how personal testimonies can reveal new insights into the Corporation’s evolution.

About the material on 100 Voices that Made the BBC

The 100 Voices website is one of a series made as part is of BBC Connected Histories – a project led by the University of Sussex in partnership with the BBC, Mass Observation, the Science Museum Group (including the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford), and the British Entertainment History Project. BBC Connected Histories is funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

At the University of Sussex, BBC Connected Histories is supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab. Material is curated and written by Professor David Hendy and Dr Alban Webb, with additional material on timelines by John Escolme from the BBC, and on John Peel by Ken Garner of Glasgow Caledonian University.

The website contains excerpts and programmes from BBC services at various moments in time. The material should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time – not those of today.

Give us your feedback – and please also Share Your Memories of listening to BBC radio.