Monday, 30 November -0001

Radio Review: 17 July

The hip bird who browbeat Radio 1 into hiring women

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176‘She’s not a girl who misses much,’ sang John Lennon in Happiness Is A Warm Gun, a line that appeared briefly and aptly in part one of On Air With Annie Nightingale (R2, Wednesday, 10pm) this week. Annie never misses much. From her days as a provincial journalist interviewing all the bands that played Brighton to her recent years championing dance music, she’s been where it’s at, usually well before anybody else. She told Jimmy Page she didn’t think much of the name Led Zeppelin, but balances that by being one of the first to rave about David Bowie.

In this two-part series, she celebrates 50 years in broadcasting by talking about her experiences in her usual warm, engaging way. Some DJ s at the cutting edge come under the heading of ‘tragically hip’. Annie’s always been hip, but she’s inclusive. She’s always been that slightly older cousin who had all the latest records and didn’t mind you borrowing them.

When Dusty Springfield told her she should go into TV and she suddenly found herself in a social whirl with all the leading bands, she couldn’t believe her luck. You can still hear the glee in her voice. It came at a price, though. Good friends with The Beatles, she kept the secret that John and Yoko were together, but feared the sack if her newspaper bosses found out. The Who were good chums, too, and there was a funny, moving section here about Keith Moon.

Perhaps her most important achievement was using her journalism to browbeat Radio 1 into employing women. Bosses thought DJ s should be ‘husband substitutes’. Annie showed them how offensively daft that was and went on to present radio brilliantly herself. Whatever’s been going on, she’s been there, and I’m so glad she’s here to tell us the stories.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:  

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