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BBC Radio 1

BBC Radio 1

BBC Radio 1 is one of the BBC's two flagship radio stations (the other being BBC Radio 2), specialising in modern popular music and current chart hits throughout the day. Radio 1 provides alternative genres after 7 pm, including electronica, dance, hip hop and indie. The choice of music and presenting style is entirely that of programme hosts, however those who present in the daytime have to rotate a number of songs a specific number of times (8, 13 or 15) per week. It was launched in 1967 to meet the demand for music generated by pirate radio stations, when the average age of the UK population was 27.[3] The BBC claim that they target the 15–29 age group,[4] and the average age of its UK audience since 2009 is 30.[5] BBC Radio 1 started 24-hour broadcasting on 1 May 1991.[6]

BBC Radio 1
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom: FM, DAB, TV
United States: Online
Canada: Satellite radio
Where it begins
FrequencyFM: 97.7 MHz – 99.7 MHz(UK)[1][2]
97.1 MHz (Jersey)
DAB: 12B – BBC National DAB
RDS Name: Radio 1
Freeview: 700
Freesat: 700
Sky (UK only): 0101
Virgin Media: 901
Virgin Media Ireland: 907
First air date30 September 1967
FormatContemporary hit radio
Sister stationsBBC Radio 1Xtra
WebcastHTTP Streams
  • Worldwide stream (Shoutcast, 128 Kbps MP3) [93]
HLS Streams
  • Worldwide stream (48 Kbps AAC+) [94]
  • Worldwide stream (96 Kbps AAC+) [95]
  • UK-only stream (128 Kbps AAC) [96]
  • UK-only stream (320 Kbps AAC) [97]
  • Worldwide stream (48-96 Kbps AAC+) (adaptive bitrate) [98]
  • UK-only stream (128-320 Kbps AAC) (adaptive bitrate) [99]


First broadcast

Radio 1 was established in 1967 (along with the more middle of the road BBC Radio 2) as a successor to the BBC Light Programme, which had broadcast popular music and other entertainment since 1945. Radio 1 was conceived as a direct response to the popularity of offshore pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio London, which had been outlawed by Act of Parliament.[7] Radio 1 was launched at 6:55 am on Saturday 30 September 1967.

Broadcasts were on 247 metres (1215 kHz) high wave, using a network of transmitters which had carried the Light Programme.[8] Most were of comparatively low power, at less than 50 kilowatts, leading to patchy coverage of the country.

The first disc jockey to broadcast on the new station was Tony Blackburn, whose cheery style, first heard on Radio Caroline and Radio London, won him the prime slot on what became known as the "Radio 1 Breakfast Show". The first words on Radio 1 – after a countdown by the Controller of Radios 1 and 2, Robin Scott, and a jingle, recorded at PAMS in Dallas, Texas, beginning "The voice of Radio 1" – were:

And, good morning everyone. Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1.— BBC Radio 1 opening message

This was the first use of US-style jingles on BBC radio, but the style was familiar to listeners who were acquainted with Blackburn and other DJs from their days on pirate radio. The reason jingles from PAMS were used was that the Musicians' Union would not agree to a single fee for the singers and musicians if the jingles were made "in-house" by the BBC; they wanted repeat fees each time one was played.

The first music to be heard on the station was "Theme One", specially composed for the launch by George Martin. It was followed by an extract from "Beefeaters" by Johnny Dankworth.[9] The first complete record played on Radio 1 was "Flowers in the Rain" by The Move, the number 2 record in that week's Top 20 (the number 1 record by Engelbert Humperdink would have been inappropriate for the station's sound). The second single was "Massachusetts" by The Bee Gees. The breakfast show remains the most prized slot in the Radio 1 schedule, with every change of breakfast show presenter exciting considerable media interest.[10]

The initial rota of staff included John Peel and a gaggle of others, some transferred from pirate stations, such as Keith Skues, Ed Stewart, Mike Raven, David Ryder, Jim Fisher, Jimmy Young, Dave Cash, Kenny Everett, Simon Dee, Terry Wogan, Duncan Johnson, Doug Crawford, Tommy Vance, Chris Denning, Emperor Rosko, Pete Murray, and Bob Holness. Many of the most popular pirate radio voices, such as Simon Dee, had only a one-hour slot per week ("Midday Spin.")[11]

1970s peak

I want to slag off all the people in charge of radio stations. Firstly, Radio 1. They outlawed the pirates and then didn't, as they promised, cater for the market the pirates created. Radio 1 and 2, most afternoons, run concurrently and the whole thing has slid right back to where it was before the pirates happened. They've totally fucked it. There's no radio station for young people any more. It's all down to housewives and trendies in Islington. They're killing the country by having that play list monopoly. —Joe Strummer[12]

Initially, the station was unpopular with some of its target audience who, it is claimed, disliked the fact that much of its airtime was shared with Radio 2 and that it was less unequivocally aimed at a young audience than the offshore stations, with some DJs such as Jimmy Young being in their 40s. The very fact that it was part of an "establishment" institution such as the BBC was a turn-off for some, and needle time restrictions prevented it from playing as many records as offshore stations had. It also had limited finances (partly because the BBC did not increase its licence fee to fund the new station) and often, as in January 1975, suffered disproportionately when the BBC had to make financial cutbacks, strengthening an impression that it was regarded as a lower priority by senior BBC executives.

Despite this, it gained massive audiences, becoming the most listened-to station in the world with audiences of over 10 million claimed for some of its shows (up to 20 million for some of the combined Radio 1 and Radio 2 shows). In the early to mid-1970s Radio 1 presenters were rarely out of the British tabloids, thanks to the Publicity Department's high-profile work. The touring summer live broadcasts called the Radio 1 Roadshow – usually as part of the BBC 'Radio Weeks' promotions that took Radio 1, 2 and 4 shows on the road – drew some of the largest crowds of the decade. The station undoubtedly played a role in maintaining the high sales of 45 rpm single records although it benefited from a lack of competition, apart from Radio Luxembourg and Manx Radio in the Isle of Man. (Independent Local Radio did not begin until October 1973, took many years to cover virtually all of the UK and was initially a mixture of music and talk). Alan Freeman's "Saturday Rock Show" was voted "Best Radio Show" five years running by readers of a national music publication, and was then axed by controller Derek Chinnery.

Annie Nightingale, who joined in 1970, was Britain's first female DJ and is now the longest serving presenter, having constantly evolved her musical tastes with the times.[13]

On Thursday, 23 November 1978, the station moved to two new medium wave frequencies (275m and 285m), which allowed a major increase in transmitter powers and improved coverage of the UK. 247 metres was passed to Radio 3. The station was on medium wave only until the early '80s, when it took over the Radio 2 FM frequency for a number of hours on weekend afternoons and late weekday evenings. Eventually the BBC set up an FM channel specifically for Radio 1 and, after a number of years of parallel broadcasting, relinquished the medium wave frequencies.


In 1992, Radio 1, for the first and only time, even covered a general election. Their coverage was presented by Nicky Campbell.[14]

In his last few months as controller, Johnny Beerling commissioned a handful of new shows that in some ways set the tone for what was to come under Matthew Bannister. One of these "Loud'n'proud" was the UK's first national radio series aimed at a gay audience (made in Manchester and was aired from August 1993). Far from being a parting quirk, the show was a surprise hit and led to the network's first coverage of the large outdoor Gay Pride event in 1994. Bannister took the reins fully in October 1993. His aim was to rid the station of its 'Smashie and Nicey' image and make it appeal to the under 25s. Although originally launched as a youth station, by the early 1990s, its loyal listeners (and DJs) had aged with the station over its 25-year history. Many long-standing DJs, such as Simon Bates, Dave Lee Travis, Alan Freeman, Bob Harris, Paul Gambaccini Gary Davies, and later Steve Wright, Bruno Brookes and Johnnie Walker left the station or were dismissed, and in January 1995 old music (typically anything recorded before 1990) was dropped from the daytime playlist.

Many listeners rebelled as the first new DJs to be introduced represented a crossover from other parts of the BBC (notably Bannister and Trevor Dann's former colleagues at the BBC's London station, GLR) with Emma Freud and Danny Baker. Another problem was that, at the time, Radio 2 was sticking resolutely to a format which appealed mainly to those who had been listening since the days of the Light Programme, and commercial radio, which was targeting the "Radio 1 and a half" audience, consequently enjoyed a massive increase in its audience share at the expense of Radio 1.

After the departure of Steve Wright, who had been unsuccessfully moved from his long-running afternoon show to the breakfast show in January 1994, Bannister hired Chris Evans to present the prime morning slot in April 1995. Evans was a popular presenter who was eventually dismissed in 1997 after he demanded to present the breakfast show for only four days per week. Evans was replaced from 17 February 1997 by Mark and Lard – Mark Radcliffe (along with his sidekick Marc Riley), who found the slick, mass-audience style required for a breakfast show did not come naturally to them. They were replaced by Zoe Ball and Kevin Greening eight months later in October 1997, with Greening moving on and leaving Ball as solo presenter. The reinvention of the station happened at a fortuitous time, with the rise of Britpop in the mid-90s – bands like Oasis, Blur and Pulp were popular and credible at the time and the station's popularity rose with them. Documentaries like John Peel's "Lost in Music" which looked at the influence that the use of drugs have had over popular musicians received critical acclaim but were slated inside Broadcasting House.

Later in the 1990s the Britpop boom declined, and manufactured chart pop (boy bands and acts aimed at sub-teenagers) came to dominate the charts. New-genre music occupied the evenings (indie on weekdays and dance at weekends), with a mix of specialist shows and playlist fillers through late nights. The rise of rave culture through the late 1980s and early 1990s gave the station the opportunity to move into a controversial and youth-orientated movement by bringing in club DJ Pete Tong amongst others. There had been a dance music programme on Radio 1 since 1987 and Pete Tong was the second DJ to present an all dance music show. This quickly gave birth to the Essential Mix where underground DJs mix electronic and club based music in a two-hour slot. Dance music has been a permanent feature on Radio 1 since with club DJs such as Judge Jules, Danny Rampling and Seb Fontaine all having shows as well as Radio 1 hosting an annual weekend in Ibiza.


Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe

Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe

Listening numbers continued to decline but the station succeeded in targeting a younger age-group and more cross gender groups. Eventually, this change in content was reflected by a rise in audience that is continuing to this day. Notably, the station has received praise for shows such as The Surgery with Aled, Bobby Friction and Nihal, The Evening Session with Steve Lamacq and its successor Zane Lowe. Its website has also been well received.

However, the breakfast show and the UK Top 40 continued to struggle. In 2000, Zoe Ball was replaced in the mornings by friend and fellow ladette Sara Cox, but, despite heavy promotion, listening figures for the breakfast show continued to fall. In 2004 Cox was replaced by Chris Moyles. The newly rebranded breakfast show was known as The Chris Moyles Show and it increased its audience, ahead of The Today Programme on Radio 4 as the second most popular breakfast show (after The Chris Evans Breakfast Show hosted by Chris Evans). Moyles continued to use innovative ways to try to tempt listeners from the Wake Up to Wogan show. In 2006, for example, creating a SAY NO TO WOGAN campaign live on-air. This angered the BBC hierarchy, though the row simmered down when it was clear that the 'campaign' had totally failed to alter the listening trends of the time – Wogan still increased figures at a faster rate than Moyles. The chart show's ratings fell after the departure of long-time host Mark Goodier, amid falling single sales in the UK. Ratings for the show fell in 2002 whilst Goodier was still presenting the show, meaning that commercial radio's Network Chart overtook it in the ratings for the first time. However, the BBC denied he was being sacked. Before July 2015, when the chart release day was changed to Friday, the BBC show competed with networked commercial radio's The Big Top 40 Show which was broadcast at the same time.

Many DJs either ousted by Bannister or who left during his tenure (such as Johnnie Walker, Bob Harris and Steve Wright) have joined Radio 2 which has now overtaken Radio 1 as the UK's most popular radio station, using a style that Radio 1 had until the early 1990s. The success of Moyles' show has come alongside increased success for the station in general. In 2006, DJs Chris Moyles, Scott Mills and Zane Lowe all won gold Sony Radio Awards, while the station itself came away with the best station award.

A new evening schedule was introduced in September 2006, dividing the week by genre. Monday was mainly pop-funkrock-oriented, Tuesday was R&B and hip-hop, Thursdays and Fridays were primarily dance, with specialist R&B and reggae shows.

Following the death of John Peel in October 2004, Annie Nightingale is now the longest serving presenter, having worked there since 1970.


The licence-fee funding of Radio 1, alongside Radio 2, is often criticised by the commercial sector. In the first quarter of 2011 Radio 1 was part of an efficiency review conducted by John Myers.[15] His role, according to Andrew Harrison, the chief executive of RadioCentre, was "to identify both areas of best practice and possible savings."[15]

The controller of Radio 1 and sister station 1Xtra changed to Ben Cooper on 28 October 2011, following the departure of Andy Parfitt. Ben Cooper answers to the Director of BBC Audio and Music, Tim Davie.[16]

On 7 December 2011, Ben Cooper's first major changes to the station were announced. Skream & Benga, Toddla T, Charlie Sloth and Friction replaced Judge Jules, Gilles Peterson, Kissy Sell Out and Fabio & Grooverider. A number of shows were shuffled to incorporate the new line-up.[17] On 28 February 2012, further changes were announced. Greg James and Scott Mills swapped shows and Jameela Jamil, Gemma Cairney and Danny Howard joined the station. The new line-up of DJs for In New DJs We Trust was also announced with B.Traits, Mosca, Jordan Suckley and Julio Bashmore hosting shows on a four weekly rotation.[18] This new schedule took effect on Monday, 2 April 2012.

In September 2012, Nick Grimshaw replaced Chris Moyles as host of "Radio 1's Breakfast Show". Grimshaw previously hosted Mon-Thurs 10pm-Midnight, Weekend Breakfast and Sunday evenings alongside Annie Mac. Grimshaw was replaced by Phil Taggart and Alice Levine on the 10pm-Midnight show.

In November 2012, another series of changes were announced. This included the departure of Reggie Yates and Vernon Kay. Jameela Jamil was announced as the new presenter of The Official Chart. Matt Edmondson moved to weekend mornings with Tom Deacon briefly replacing him on Wednesday nights. Dan Howell and Phil Lester, famous YouTubers and video bloggers, joined the station. The changes took effect in January 2013.[19]

Former presenter Sara Cox hosted her last show on Radio 1 in February 2014 before moving back to Radio 2. In March 2014, Gemma Cairney left the weekend breakfast show to host the weekday early breakfast slot, swapping shows with Dev.

In September 2014, Radio 1 operated a series of changes to their output which saw many notable presenters leave the station – including Edith Bowman, Nihal and Rob da Bank. Huw Stephens gained a new show hosting 10 pm – 1 am Monday–Wednesday with Alice Levine presenting weekends 1 pm – 4 pm. Radio 1's Residency also expanded with Skream joining the rotational line-up on Thursday nights (10 pm – 1 am).

From December 2014 to April 2016, Radio 1 included a weekly late night show presented by a well known Internet personality called The Internet Takeover. Shows have been presented by various YouTubers such as Jim Chapman and Hannah Witton.[20]

In January 2015, Clara Amfo replaced Jameela Jamil as host of The Official Chart on Sundays (4 pm – 7 pm) and in March, Zane Lowe left Radio 1 and was replaced by Annie Mac on the new music evening show.

In May 2015, Fearne Cotton left the station after almost 10 years. Her weekday morning show was taken over by Clara Amfo. Adele Roberts also joined the weekday schedule line-up, hosting the Early Breakfast show.

In July 2015, The Official Chart moved to a Friday from 4 pm to 5:45 pm, hosted by Greg James. The move took place in order to take into account the changes to the release dates of music globally. Cel Spellman joined Radio 1 to host Sunday evenings.

In September 2017, a new slot namely Radio 1's Greatest Hits was introduced for weekends 10am-1pm. The show started on 2 September 2017.[21] On 30 September 2017, Radio 1 celebrated its 50th birthday. Commemorations include a three-day pop-up station Radio 1 Vintage celebrating the station's presenters and special on-air programmes on the day itself, including a special breakfast show co-presented by the station's launch DJ Tony Blackburn, which is also broadcast on BBC Radio 2.[22]

In October 2017, another major schedule change was announced. Friction left the station. The change features Charlie Sloth gained a new slot called 'The 8th' which aired Mon-Thu 9-11pm. Other changes include MistaJam took over Danny Howard on the Dance Anthems. Katie Thistleton joined Cel Spellman on Sunday evenings, namely 'Life Hacks' (4-6pm) which features content from the Radio 1 Surgery, and Most Played (6-7pm). Danny Howard would host a new show on Friday 11pm-1am. Huw Stephens's show pushed to 11pm-1am. Kan D Man and DJ Limelight joined the station to host a weekly Asian Beats show on Sundays between 1-3am,[23] Rene LaVice joined the station with the Drum & Bass show on Tuesdays 1-3am. Phil Taggart presented the Hype Chart on Tuesdays 3-4am.[24]

In February 2018, the first major schedule change of the year happened on the weekend. This saw Maya Jama and Jordan North join BBC Radio 1 to present the Radio 1's Greatest Hits, which would be on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Alice Levine moved to the breakfast slot to join Dev. Matt Edmondson would replace Alice Levine's original slot in the afternoon and joined by a different guest co-presenter each week. The changes took into effect on 24 February 2018.[25][26]

In April 2018, another major schedule change was made due to the incorporation of weekend schedule on Fridays. This means that Nick Grimshaw, Clara Amfo and Greg James would host four days in a week. Scott Mills became the new host for The Official Chart and Dance Anthems, which replaces Greg James, and Maya Jama would present The Radio 1's Greatest Hits on 10am-1pm. Mollie King joined Matt Edmondson officially on the 1-4pm slot, namely 'Matt and Mollie'. The changes took into effect on 15 June 2018.[27][28]

In May 2018, it was announced that Nick Grimshaw would leave the Breakfast Show after six years, the second longest run hosting the show in history (only second to Chris Moyles). However, Grimshaw is not leaving the station, but swapping slots with Greg James, who normally hosts the home time show from 4-7pm weekdays. This change took place as of 20 August 2018 for the Radio 1 Breakfast Show (which was then renamed to Radio 1 Breakfast).[29] Nick Grimshaw's show started on 3 September 2018.

In June 2018, another series of schedule changes was announced. This sees the BBC Introducing Show with Huw Stephens on Sundays 11pm-1am. Jack Saunders joined the station and presented Radio 1 Indie Show from Mon-Thu 11pm-1am. Other changes include the shows rearrangement of Sunday evenings. Phil Taggart's chillest show moved to 7-9pm, then followed by The Rock Show with Daniel P Carter at 9-11pm. The changes took into effect in September 2018.[30]

In October 2018, Charlie Sloth announced that he was leaving Radio 1 and 1Xtra after serving the station for nearly 10 years. He was hosting The 8th and The Rap Show at that point. His last show was expected to be on 3 November 2018.[31] However, Charlie had been in the spotlight for storming the stage and delivering a sweary, Kanye West-esque rant at the Audio & Radio Industry Awards (ARIAS) on Thursday 18 October 2018, which points towards Edith Bowman. Charlie was nominated for best specialist music show at the ARIAS – a category he lost out on to Soundtracking with Edith Bowman and prompting him to appear on stage during her acceptance.[32] He apologised on Twitter regarding this issue and Radio 1 had agreed with Charlie that he will not do the 10 remaining shows that were originally planned.[33] This meant that his last show ended on 18 October 2018. From 20 October 2018 onwards, Seani B filled his The Rap Show slot on 9pm-11pm[34] and Dev covered "The 8th" beginning 22 October 2018.[35]

In the same month, B.Traits announced that she was leaving BBC Radio 1 after six years of commitment. She said she feels as though she can no longer devote the necessary time needed to make the show the best it can be, and is moving on to focus on new projects and adventures. Her last show was on 26 October 2018.[36] The Radio 1's Essentials Mix is then shifted earlier to 1am-3am, followed by Radio 1's Wind-Down from 3 am to 6 am. The changes took effect from 2 November 2018 onwards.[37]

At the end of October 2018, Dev's takeover on The 8th resulted in the swapping between Matt Edmondson and Mollie King's show with Dev and Alice Levine's show. This meant that Matt and Mollie became the new Weekend Breakfast hosts, and Dev and Alice became the afternoon show hosts.[38] The changes came into effect on 16 November 2018.[39][40]

On 15 November 2018, Radio 1 announced that Tiffany Calver, who has previously hosted a dedicated hip-hop show on the new-music station KissFresh, would join the station and host the Rap Show. The change took effect from 5 January 2019.[41]

On 26 November 2018, Radio 1 announced that the new hosts for The 8th would be those of Kiss 100's breakfast show: Rickie Haywood-Williams, Melvin Odoom and Charlie Hedges. The change took effect in April 2019.[42]



From inception for over 20 years, Radio 1 broadcast from an adjacent pair of continuity suites (originally Con A and Con B) in the main control room of Broadcasting House. These cons were configured to allow DJs to operate the equipment themselves and play their own records and jingle cartridges (called self-op). This was a departure from traditional BBC practice, where a studio manager would play in discs from the studio control cubicle. Due to needle time restrictions, much of the music was played from tapes of BBC session recordings. The DJs were assisted by one or more technical operators (TOs) who would set up tapes and control sound levels during broadcasts.

In 1985, Radio 1 moved across the road from Broadcasting House to Egton House. The station moved to Yalding House in 1996, and Egton House was demolished in 2003 to make way for extension to Broadcasting House. This extension would eventually be renamed the Egton Wing, and then the Peel Wing.

Until recently, the studios were located in the basement of Yalding House (near to BBC Broadcasting House) which is on Great Portland Street in central London. They used to broadcast from two main studios in the basement; Y2 and Y3 (there is also a smaller studio, YP1, used mainly for production). These two main studios (Y2 and Y3) are separated by the "Live Lounge", although it is mainly used as an office; there are rarely live sets recorded from it, as Maida Vale Studios is used instead for larger set-ups. The studios are linked by webcams and windows through the "Live Lounge", allowing DJs to see each other when changing between shows. Y2 is the studio from where The Chris Moyles Show was broadcast and is also the studio rigged with static cameras for when the station broadcasts on the "Live Cam". The station moved there in 1996 from Egton House.

In December 2012, Radio 1 moved from Yalding House to new studios on the 8th floor of the new BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, just a few metres away from the "Peel Wing", formerly the "Egton Wing", which occupies the land on which Egton House previously stood: it was renamed the "Peel Wing" in 2012 in honour of the long-serving BBC Radio 1 presenter, John Peel, who broadcast on the station from its launch in 1967 up until his death in 2004.

Programmes have also regularly been broadcast from other regions, notably The Mark and Lard Show, broadcast every weekday from New Broadcasting House, Oxford Road, Manchester for over a decade (October 1993 – March 2004) – the longest regular broadcast on the network from outside the capital.

UK analogue frequencies

Radio 1 originally broadcast on 1214 kHz medium wave (or 247 metres). On 23 November 1978, the station was moved to 1053 and 1089 kHz (275 and 285 m), but did not broadcast nationally on its own FM frequencies until late 1987. The BBC had been allocated three FM frequency ranges in 1955, for the then Light Programme (now BBC Radio 2), Third Programme (now BBC Radio 3) and Home Service (now BBC Radio 4) stations. Thus when Radio 1 was launched, there was no FM frequency range allocated for the station, the official reason being that there was no space, even though no commercial stations had yet launched on FM. Because of this, from launch until the end of the 1980s Radio 1 was allowed to take over Radio 2's FM transmitters for a few hours per week. These were Saturday afternoons, Sunday teatime and evening – most notably for the Top 40 Singles Chart on Sunday afternoons; 10 pm to midnight on weeknights including Sounds of the Seventies until 1975, and thereafter the John Peel show (Mon–Thurs) and the Friday Rock Show; and most Bank Holiday afternoons, when Radio 2 was broadcasting a Bank Holiday edition of Sport on 2.

To coincide with Radio 1's 20th birthday, the first full-time FM broadcast began in the London area on 31 October 1987, at low power on 104.8 MHz.[43] A year later the FM frequencies became national after the police communication allocation changed, freeing up what is known today as 97–99 FM, which the BBC acquired. The rollout of Radio 1 on FM began on 1 September 1988, starting with Central Scotland, the Midlands and the north of England. A month later, to coincide with an extension of broadcast hours, Radio 1 stopped broadcasting on Radio 2's FM frequencies on weeknights and on Sunday evenings and by 1990 all usage of Radio 2's FM frequencies had ended. Radio 1 made great efforts to promote its new FM service, renaming itself on-air initially to 'Radio 1 FM' and later as '1FM' until 1995. The engineering programme was initially completed in 1995.

The Conservative government decided to increase competition on AM and disallowed the simulcasting of services on both AM and FM, affecting both BBC and Independent Local Radio. Radio 1's medium wave frequencies were reallocated to Independent National Radio. Radio 1's last broadcast on MW was on 1 July 1994, with Stephen Duffy's "Kiss Me" being the last record played on MW just before 9 am. For those who continued to listen, just after 9 am, Radio 1 jingles were played in reverse chronological order ending with its first jingle from 30 September 1967. In the initial months after this closure a pre-recorded message with Mark Goodier was played to warn listeners that Radio 1 was now an "FM-only" station.[44] Around this time, Radio 1 began broadcasting on spare audio subcarriers on Sky Television's analogue satellite service, initially in mono (on UK Gold) and later in stereo (on UK Living).

Digital distribution

The BBC launched its national radio stations on DAB digital radio in 1995, however the technology was expensive at the time and so was not marketed, instead used as a test for future technologies. DAB was "officially" launched in 2002 as sets became cheaper. Today it can also be heard on UK digital TV services Freeview, Virgin Media, Sky and the Internet as well as FM. In July 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio began simulcasting Radio 1 across the United States as channel 11 on its own service and channel 6011 on Dish Network satellite TV. Sirius Canada began simulcasting Radio 1 when it was launched on 1 December 2005 (also on channel 11). The Sirius simulcasts were time shifted five hours to allow US and Canadian listeners in the Eastern Time Zone to hear Radio 1 at the same time of day as UK listeners. On 12 November 2008, Radio 1 made its debut on XM Satellite Radio in both the US and Canada on channel 29, moving to XM 15 and Sirius 15 on 4 May 2011.[45][46] Until the full station was removed in August 2011, Radio 1 was able to be heard by approximately 20.6 million listeners in North America on satellite radio alone. BBC Radio 1 can be heard on cable in the Netherlands at 105.10 FM.

SiriusXM cancellation in North America

At midnight on 9 August 2011, Sirius XM ceased carrying BBC Radio 1 programming with no prior warning. On 10 August 2011 the BBC issued the following statement:

The BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has been in partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast Radio 1 on their main network, since 2005. This agreement has now unfortunately come to an end and BBC Worldwide are in current discussions with the satellite radio station to find ways to continue to bring popular music channel, BBC Radio 1, to the US audience. We will keep you posted.[47]

Thousands of angry Sirius XM customers began a campaign on Facebook and other social media to reinstate BBC Radio 1 on Sirius XM Radio.[48] One week later, Sirius and the BBC agreed on a new carriage agreement[49] that saw Radio 1 broadcast on a time-shifted format on the Sirius XM Internet Radio platform only, on channel 815. The channel is still unavailable on the satellite platform of the service.

Starting on 15 January 2012, The Official Chart Show began broadcasting on SiriusXM 20on20 channel 3, at 4 pm and 9 pm Eastern Standard Time.

On 19 August 2014, SiriusXM again stopped carrying BBC Radio 1 programming with no advanced notice. The stream is no longer available on the Internet Radio platform.


From 1999 until 2012, Radio 1 split the home nations for localised programming in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to allow the broadcast of a showcase programme for regional talent. Most recently, these shows were under the BBC Introducing brand. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had their own shows, which were broadcast on a 3-week rotational basis in England.

From January 2011 until June 2012, Scotland's show was presented by Ally McCrae.[50] Previously it was hosted by Vic Galloway (who also presents for BBC Radio Scotland); who had presented the show solo since 2004, after his original co-host Gill Mills departed.

Wales's show was hosted by Jen Long between January 2011 until May 2012.[51] Previously Bethan Elfyn occupied the slot, who had at one time hosted alongside Huw Stephens,[52] until Stephens left to join the national network, although he still broadcasts a show for Wales - a Welsh-language music show on BBC Radio Cymru on Thursday evenings)

Phil Taggart presented the Northern Ireland programme between November 2011 and May 2012. The show was formerly presented by Rory McConnell. Before joining the national network, Colin Murray was a presenter on The Session in Northern Ireland, along with Donna Legge;[52][53] after Murray's promotion to the network Legge hosted alone for a time, and on her departure McConnell took her place.

The regional opt-outs originally went out from 8 pm to 10 pm on Thursdays (the Evening Session's time slot) and were known as the "Session in the Nations" (the "Session" tag was later dropped due to the demise of the Evening Session); they later moved to run from 7:30 pm to 9 pm, with the first half-hour of Zane Lowe's programme going out across the whole of the UK. On 18 October 2007 the regional programmes moved to a Wednesday night/Thursday morning slot from midnight to 2 am under the BBC Introducing banner, allowing Lowe's Thursday show to be aired across the network; prior to this change Huw Stephens had presented the Wednesday midnight show nationally. In January 2011, BBC Introducing was moved to the new time slot of midnight to 2 am on Monday mornings, and the Scottish and Welsh shows were given new presenters in the form of Ally McCrae and Jen Long.

The opt-outs were only available to listeners on the FM frequencies. Because of the way the DAB and digital TV services of Radio 1 are broadcast (a single-frequency network on DAB and a single broadcast feed of Radio 1 on TV platforms), the digital version of the station was not regionalised.

The BBC Trust announced in May 2012 that the regional music programmes on Radio 1 would be replaced with a single programme offering a UK-wide platform for new music as part of a series of cost-cutting measures across the BBC.[54] In June 2012, the regional shows ended and were replaced by a single BBC Introducing show presented by Jen Long and Ally McCrae.[55]



Because of its youth-orientated nature, Radio 1 plays a broad mix of current and potential future hits, including independent/alternative, hip hop, rock, dance/electronica and pop. This made the station stand out from other top 40 stations, both in the UK and across the world.

Due to restrictions on the amount of commercial music that could be played on radio in the UK until 1988 (the "needle time" limitation) the station has recorded many live performances. Studio sessions (recordings of about four tracks made in a single day), also supplemented the live music content, many of them finding their way to commercially available LPs and CDs. The sessions recorded for John Peel's late night programme are particularly renowned.

The station also broadcasts documentaries and interviews. Although this type of programming arose from necessity it has given the station diversity. The needletime restrictions meant the station tended to have a higher level of speech by DJs. While the station is often criticised for "waffling" by presenters, an experimental "more music day" in 1988 was declared a failure after only a third of callers favoured it.

News and current affairs

Radio 1 has a public service broadcasting obligation to provide news, which it fulfills through Newsbeat bulletins throughout the day. Shared with 1Xtra, short news summaries are provided roughly hourly on the half-hour during daytime hours with two 15-minute bulletins at 12:45 pm and 5:45 pm on weekdays. The main presenter is Ben Mundy, with Roisin Hastie presenting during Radio 1's breakfast hours.[56]

Online visualisation and social media

In recent years Radio 1 has utilised social media to help reach a younger audience. Its YouTube channel now has over 5 million subscribers.[57] The highest viewed videos on the channel are predominately live music performances from the Live Lounge.

The station also has a heavy presence on social media, with audience interaction occurring through Facebook and Twitter as well as text messaging.

It was announced in 2013 that Radio 1 had submitted plans to launch its own dedicated video channel on the BBC iPlayer[58] where videos of live performances as well as some features and shows would be streamed in a central location. Plans were approved by the BBC Trust in November 2014 and the channel launched on 10 November 2014.[59]

Special programming

Bank Holiday programming

Radio 1 provides alternative programming on some Bank Holidays. Programmes have included 'The 10 Hour Takeover', a request-based special, in which the DJs on air would encourage listeners to select any available track to play, 'One Hit Wonder Day' and 'The Chart of the Decade' where the 150 biggest selling singles in the last 10 years were counted down and played in full.

Anniversary programming

On Sunday 30 September 2007, Radio 1 celebrated its 40th birthday.[60] To mark this anniversary Radio 1 hosted a week of special features, including a re-creation of Simon Bates' Golden Hour, and 40 different artists performing 40 different covers, one from each year since Radio 1 was established. On Saturday 30 September 2017, Radio 1 celebrated its 50th birthday. Tony Blackburn recreated the first ever Radio 1 broadcast on Radio 2,[61] simulcast on pop-up station Radio 1 Vintage,[62] followed by The Radio 1 Breakfast Show celebration, tricast on Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 1 Vintage, presented by Tony Blackburn and Nick Grimshaw, featuring former presenters as guests Simon Mayo, Sara Cox and Mike Read.[63]


Radio 1 regularly supports charities Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Children in Need.

On 18 March 2011, BBC's Radio 1 longest serving breakfast DJ Chris Moyles and sidekick Dave Vitty broadcast for 52 hours as part of a Guinness World Record attempt, in aid of Comic Relief. The pair stayed on air for 52 hours in total setting a new world record for 'Radio DJ Endurance Marathon (Team)’ after already breaking Simon Mayo's 12-year record for Radio 1's Longest Show of 37 hours which he set in 1999, also for Comic Relief.

The presenters started on 16 March 2011 and came off air at 10:30 am on 18 March 2011. During this Fearne Cotton made a bet with DJ Chris Moyles that if they raise over £2,000,000 she will appear on the show in a swimsuit. After passing the £2,000,000 mark, Cotton appeared on the studio webcam in a stripy monochrome swimsuit. The appearance of Cotton between 10:10 am and 10:30 am caused the Radio 1 website to crash due to a high volume of traffic.

In total the event raised £2,622,421 for Comic Relief.[64]


In 1981, Radio 1 broadcast a radio adaptation of the space opera film, Star Wars.[65] The 13-episode serial was adapted for radio by the author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden, and was a co-production between the BBC and the American Broadcaster NPR.[66]

In 1994, Radio 1 broadcast a radio adaptation of the Batman comic book storyline Knightfall, as part of the Marc Goodier show, featuring Michael Gough recreating his movie role as Alfred.[67] Later that same year, Radio 1 also broadcast a re-edited version of the Radio 4 Superman radio drama.[68]


Radio 1 Roadshows

The Radio 1 Roadshow, which usually involved Radio 1 DJs and pop stars travelling around popular UK seaside destinations, began in 1973,[69] hosted by Alan Freeman in Newquay, Cornwall, with the final one held at Heaton Park, Manchester in 1999. Although the Roadshow attracted large crowds and the style changed with the style of the station itself—such as the introduction of whistlestop audio postcards of each location in 1994 ("2minuteTour")—they were still rooted in the older style of the station, and therefore fit for retirement.[70]

BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend

In March 2000, Radio 1 decided to change the Roadshow format, renaming it One Big Sunday in the process. Several of these Sundays were held in large city-centre parks. In 2003, the event changed again and was rebranded One Big Weekend, with each event occurring biannually and covering two days. Under this name, it visited Derry in Northern Ireland, as part of the Music Lives campaign, and Perry Park in Birmingham.

The most recent change occurred in 2005 when the event was yet again renamed and the decision taken to hold only one per year, this time as Radio 1's Big Weekend. Venues under this title have included Herrington Country Park, Camperdown Country Park, Moor Park–which was the first Weekend to feature a third stage–Mote Park, Lydiard Park, Bangor and Carlisle Airport.

Tickets for each Big Weekend are given away free of charge, making it the largest free ticketed music festival in Europe.[71]

BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend was replaced by a larger festival in 2012, named 'Radio 1's Hackney Weekend', with a crowd capacity of 100,000. The Hackney Weekend took place over the weekend of 23–24 June 2012 in Hackney Marshes, Hackney, London. The event was to celebrate the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London and had artists such as Rihanna, Jay-Z and Florence and the Machine.[72]

In 2013, Radio 1's Big Weekend returned to Derry as part of the City of Culture 2013 celebrations. So far, Derry is the only city to have hosted the Big Weekend twice.

In May 2014, Radio 1's Big Weekend was held in Glasgow, Scotland. Acts which played at the event included Rita Ora, The 1975, Katy Perry, Jake Bugg and Pharrell Williams. The event was opened on the Friday with a dance set in George Square, featuring Radio 1 Dance DJs such as Danny Howard and Pete Tong, and other well-known acts such as Martin Garrix and Tiesto.

In 2015, the event was held in Norwich and featured performances from the likes of Taylor Swift, Muse, David Guetta, Years & Years and others.

2016 saw the event make its way to Exeter. It was headlined by Coldplay who closed the weekend on the Sunday evening.

The event was in Hull in 2017 and saw performances by artists such as Zara Larsson, Shawn Mendes, Stormzy, Katy Perry, Little Mix, Sean Paul, Rita Ora, The Chainsmokers, Clean Bandit and Kings of Leon.[73]

In 2018 to take advantage of Glastonbury Festival's fallow year, 4 separate Big Weekends were held simultaneously between 25 and 28 May. Stylized as "BBC Music's Biggest Weekend", events were held in Swansea (with a line-up curated by Radio 1), Coventry and Perth (both curated by Radio 2) and Belfast (curated by Radio 6). Tickets sold out for the Swansea, Perth and Coventry Big Weekends.

Ibiza Weekend

Radio 1 has annually held a dance music weekend broadcast live from Ibiza since the 1990s. The weekend is usually the first weekend in August and has performances from world-famous DJs and Radio 1's own dance music talent such as Pete Tong and Annie Mac.

BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards

Since 2008 Radio 1 has held an annual event for teenagers aged 14 to 17 years. Originally named BBC Switch Live, the first event was held on 12 October 2008 at the Hammersmith Apollo. The event has been hosted by various Radio 1 DJs and guest co-hosts.

In 2010 the event was renamed 'BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards', and includes awards given to celebrities and particularly inspirational young people. Now hosted at Wembley Arena, the event has included guests such as One Direction, Tinie Tempah, Fall Out Boy and Jessie J.

The 2014 event took place on 19 October and was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora.[74]

The 2015 event took place on 8 November and was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Demi Lovato at Wembley Arena.[75]

The 2016 event took place on 23 October and was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Dua Lipa.[76]

The 2017 event took place on 22 October and was hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora.

The 2018 event took place on 21 October and was hosted by Greg James, Mollie King and Maya Jama.[77]

Edinburgh Festival

Radio 1 often has a presence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Past events have included 'The Fun and Filth Cabaret' and 'Scott Mills: The Musical'.

See also

  • List of BBC radio stations

  • Radio 1 Podcasts

  • Musicube

  • BBC Radio


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