Just as you can tell someone’s age by the Blue Peter presenters they recall best (Singleton, Noakes, Purves, by the way), the age of a disc jockey can be easily be determined by asking if they ever sent an audition tape to Johnny Beerling.
After a decade at the Light Programme, Johnny was involved with Radio One from the outset, and was on production duty for the inaugural, smiling show in 1967. Famously, he was Controller during the latter period of its first ‘heyday’ from 1985 to 1993. These were the days of the first generation of superstar DJs; and enormous crowds gathering at Radio One Roadshows to see long-haired presenters in tight shorts play silly games. The red and blue geometric logo shouted ‘fun’. And those 1976 JAM jingles; well they defined a perfect, confident sound. For a station rising from the pirates' ashes; carving out a new yet part-time life in a sceptical public corporation, it is amazing how much 'stationality' Radio One generated.
It’s likely wrong to think that radio could or should be like this now. Life is different; listeners are different; the level of competition is different; the political climate the BBC operates in is different; the way presenters are viewed by listeners is different; the economics are different; and, well, it was just a long time ago. Some might argue that the changes Radio One introduced after Johnny’s era took it back to being closer to its 1967 goal, and closer to what it was licensed to do.
Whilst it is not a fashionable view, though, let's concede that for a period, Radio One 247 got it spot on. Utterly. It chimed with Britain. And everyone involved should clap themselves vigorously; or just play that cart with clapping FX on. Either way, you genuinely deserve it.
Here, Johnny talks on assembling the inaugural Radio One line-up and the perils of needletime, which used to limit the number of records you could play. Many of us reading this remember the early days of 24 hour ILR too, when we used to play orchestral versions of tracks overnight; and repeatedly spin those rare non-needletime hits. #Radio1