With Tony Blackburn’s words, “Good morning everyone, welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1”, and the strains of The Move’s Top 10 hit Flowers in the Rain, the BBC’s first dedicated pop station began broadcasting on this day in 1967.
Radio 1 had come into being after the Marine Offences Act outlawed unregulated ‘pirate’ radio stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio London, to meet the need for a legal pop music station; its predecessor, the Light Programme, had combined pop with easy listening and comedy.
The less contemporary elements of the Light Programme would be hived off to another new station, Radio 2, while the BBC’s other stations would also be renamed in the shake-up - the Third Programme becoming Radio 3 and the Home Service Radio 4.
Radio 1 would broadcast pop from 7am to 7.30pm, followed by lighter music and entertainment until 2am. Several disc jockeys were hired for the new station on eight-week contracts, with the intention to retain the most popular thereafter.
The new presenting roster (pictured above) included many popular former pirate radio DJs, including Blackburn, Simon Dee, Emperor Rosko, Kenny Everett and John Peel, alongside established BBC names such as Pete Murray, Jimmy Young and Alan Freeman.
With the studios at Broadcasting House in London packed with press and well-wishers, the station began broadcasting at 7am with Blackburn’s new show, 'Daily Disc Delivery' - the DJ following up The Move’s opener with songs by the Bee Gees, The Tremeloes and Simon and Garfunkel.
With Radio 1 the only station of the four BBC channels not to be allocated at stereo FM frequency, reception was initially poor in several areas of the county; despite this, it proved a huge success, doubling the Light Programme's audience within a month of its launch.