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The dark side of Radio One

Features | September Issue

Craig Brown loved listening to the station when it began, 50 years ago. But beneath the DJs’ cheesy grins, there lurked malice and paranoia

In 1959, an American disc jockey called Peter Tripp, the inventor of the Top 40, gained a place in The Guinness Book of Records after deejaying non-stop for eight days and eight nights, or 201 hours in all.  Tripp had, in a way, fulfilled the dream of every DJ, before and after: to talk and talk and talk, without interruption, for hour upon hour, day after day. ‘I’d like nothing better than to broadcast all day if someone would let me,’ writes our very own Tony Blackburn in his autobiography The Living Legend (1985). ‘To me a microphone is another human being I’m holding a conversation with – hopefully an attractive woman.’ Fifty years ago, on September 30th 1967, the very first Radio One disc jockeys assembled for an inaugural group photograph on the steps of All Souls Church. The choice of location was surely ironic, but no one seems...

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