Happy Birthday to the happy happy sound of Radio 1

On this date back in 1967, BBC Radio 1 was born. Happy Birthday, Radio 1. 46 years old, and still sounding like a modern teenager.

Quite rightly, today’s Radio 1 is a world away from the Radio 1 that opened with Tony Blackburn, had virtually no needle-time (a Musicians Union restriction on how many records could be played) so had to share programming with Radio 2 and broadcast session musicians versions of popular songs, and would close every day at 7pm.

Also, quite rightly, Radio 1 hold on to the concept of presenter led broadcasting, and the playing of new music in whatever form that evolves. Daytime (or ‘mainstream’) music has to be pop biased, whilst the specialist programming in the evenings and overnight can be as ‘out there’ as it needs to be.

Again, whether it’s daytime or specialist programming, the shows are always presenter led. Listeners hang on their knowledge and join in with the entertainment they provide to complement the music they play. By day, that’s fun entertainment, skits and ‘lol’s, by night it’s interviews and guests and music and event related.

The dividing line between waffle and acceptable content is a difficult one. Sometimes there’s far too much waffle and repetition within a ‘link’ when the point has been made and it’s time to move on. This is especially annoying in the chart show, which, in my opinion, needs to be ‘tighter’ and stop all this pretending it’s a TV show. Heck, it’s a radio show, and it’s doing badly in the ratings because it’s a bad radio show.

B Traits plays some excellent stuff late at night, but again, she waffles. Brilliant show otherwise. Come on BBC producers, work out what’s a good ‘bit’ and what’s waffle.

The commercial sector is terrified of waffle so it removes its presenters from any duties beyond making announcements like a railway station announcer. This is one of the major reasons why so many listen to the BBC, of course.

The most essential part of the Radio 1 output is of course the Breakfast show. From the first one with Tony Blackburn, through to the Chris Moyles versions (he became less aggressive toward the end of his reign), the Radio 1 Breakfast shows have soundtracked my life, except for the horrid days of Chris Evans. He forced me to switch off. Other than that, as my life has chugged on through its highs and lows, the Radio 1 breakfast has always suited my needs. Until now. I can’t warm to Nick Grimshaw. He leaves me feeling a kind of cringe similar to the cringe I felt when Chris Evans was doing his drunken rants and bigging up excessive partying and the wonders of millionaire socialism. I think it’s the kinda immaturity of Grimmy that grates. But, hey, I’m way past the demographics, and if it is what draws a yoof audience then it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t work for me.

Time has flown by fast, it’s now nearly 40 years since Tony Blackburn had to hand off the Breakfast show to the next person, and a year since Moyles handed it on to Grimmy. Indeed, that last year seems to have flown by. With luck, Radio 1 has repositioned itself to shed the over 30s, and attract the ‘youngers’.

A few days ago, they ditched all the daytime presenters and just mixed the playlist music non-stop all day. What is the point of sounding like an ipod but without a skip button? I don’t get it. They tried a similar thing back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when all day the DJs went away. Did they learn or prove anything back then? Did they learn or prove anything last week? Maybe it was just a bit of PR. I hope it never signals a move away from presenter led radio, because, as all the pirate radio stations will testify, presenter led radio‘s what the yoof of today wants and expects, and has always wanted and expected.