Annie Nightingale, the first female DJ on Radio 1 has died

Annie Nightingale Photo: Shutterstock / Featureflash

Annie Nightingale has died after a short illness. She started her career with BBC’s Radio 1 in 1970, known by everyone as ‘Annie’ she was the station’s longest-serving woman DJ and was the only female presenter right up until 1982 when Janice Long arrived.

Her family announced: “Annie Nightingale MBE passed away on January 11 at her home in London after a short illness. Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer and an inspiration to many. Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally”.

Anne Nightingale worked as a reporter in the early to mid 1960s and then, inspired by the proliferation of pirate radio stations she lobbied the BBC for a job as a DJ. The BBC had been instructed to set up a pop music station in 1967 when Harold Wilson’s government outlawed the pirate stations and Annie wanted to work there. However, when Radio 1 was first launched, the BBC had a ban on employing women on air! It took her 3 years of lobbying and, with support from the Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor, she finally managed to persuade the station to give her a trial run.

Nightingale presented several shows both on radio as well as TV and joined The Old Grey Whistle Test as co-host in 1978 following the departure of Bob Harris. In 2002 she was awarded an OBE for services to radio broadcasting and, in 2020, she was appointed CBE.

BBC director general Tim Davie called Nightingale, “a uniquely gifted broadcaster who blessed us with her love of music and passion for journalism, for over 50 years. As well as being a trailblazer for new music, she was a champion for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry.”

Nightingale produced three memoirs during her life and in 2020 published ‘Hey Hi Hello: Five Decades of Pop Culture from Britain’s First Female DJ, where she wrote: “From day one, I chose the records I wanted to play, and stuck to it ever since. I wasn’t there for the ‘exposure’. I preferred the evenings, where I wouldn’t have to introduce playlist tunes I didn’t like”.

She is survived by her two children, Alex and Lucy

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.