Sometime in the early 1990s I came back to daytime Radio 1.
I’d have been about the same age as my parents were when the station launched, and the laddish behaviour of Chris Evans and his ilk spoke to me…
The Summer of Love had just happened; the Baby Boomers were emerging as a social and economic force to be reckoned with.
Slowly, because it wasn’t quite an instant hit; the BBC was still establishment, still The Man, and if the mantra of the Sixties was to never trust anyone over 30, what were the hip young things meant to make of DJs such as Jimmy Young, who was 44 in the year that the station launched?
then, and on that day Alan Freeman revealed to the nation that holding the top spot, as it had since mid-December, was “Two Little Boys” by Rolf Harris. Emerging as the Hippy Sixties handed over to the Glam Rock Seventies, I always wanted to be born under a cooler musical star. Twee and sentimental, that song later took on an altogether darker hue, as Operation Yewtree began to pick at the scab of abuse that most of us were unaware of at the time but which, as we look back, necessarily colours our memories of some of those stars of radio and music.
The DJs started broadcasting from Ibiza over summer, and the evenings were given over to dance music to get you in the mood for clubbing on a Saturday night. Working on a local newspaper desk, I had gravitated to Radio 4 in the early mornings to get a handle on current affairs before starting work.
I can remember when our first child was very small, dropping him off at a party one Sunday morning, and discovering Jonathan Ross’s Radio 2 show, which started the gradual migration – for me and for many of the Radio 1 DJs I’d listened to in my youth, Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Simon Mayo, Johnnie Walker – along the dial until that became my permanent BBC station.
They were in their early 20s, and Radio 1 was for them.
After two decades of the Light Programme, which saw young people seeking musical solace in the off-shore pirate broadcasters such as Radio Caroline, the BBC wanted to win back the youth.
My music came from my local independent music shop, and for a long time I just didn’t bother listening to Radio 1 any more. I never got the habit of listening to the radio in the evening – from teatime, when my dad got in from work, it was the news, then perhaps, light entertainment shows.
I sat in my room playing vinyl, and by the time I had learned to drive and bought my first car, I would create carefully curated tapes to listen to while driving. But suddenly a vista of after-dark radio presented itself.
And not only was John Peel playing exactly the sort of music I liked, he was introducing me to new stuff.
Punk songs I’d been too young for, world music I’d never considered, electronic music that was so fast it made my heart pound.
Radio 1 first aired on 30 September 1967, famously with Tony Blackburn spinning the inaugural disc of The Move’s “Flowers in the Rain”.