The History of DJ, episode 14 serves as a 51 minute over-view of radio history as we join the series producer and narrator, Tony Prince on stage at the 2016 International Radio Festival delivering a lecture in Milan, Italy.
The inventor of the radio device, Guglielmo Marconi was born not far from Milan in Bologna and to give you an idea of how high in esteem the inventor is in his homeland, Bologna’s airport is named after him.
Radio’s popularity came out of the trenches of World War 1 where the invention was first used for communication. After the war the social impact of the ‘wireless’ as it was first called, spread like wild-fire across the world.
Whilst America, Australia and Canada developed an enormous network of local licensed radio stations, European growth became a victim of politics. It may seem hard to believe today that there was a day when the UK had just one radio station, (the BBC), where records were played for a maximum of 30 minutes each day.
This in itself caused a teenage revolution, such was the power of music (something governments could never comprehend).
Pirate radio (Caroline North & South, Radio London, Radio Scotland, Radio 270, Radio City, Radio England, Radio Veronica etc. each sailed into pop music history. Until then and into the 80’s Radio Luxembourg served the UK, greater Europe and Scandinavia with a nightly feast of pop music on AM until the trans-European radio battle was won.
The American DJs of the 50’s set the standard for pop radio with their fast talking, personality led patter broadcast from high powered FM transmitters.
The station jingles sang out between the hits of Elvis and eventually the Beatles. Commercial radio ruled.
It was a time for Alan Freed, Wolfman Jack and by the 60’s their style was inherited by the pirate DJs around the UK coastlines who brought pop radio’s full potential to the people forcing governments to implement changes in radio as they lost their political control.
Like the soldiers in those wars, radio itself has fought off many enemies trying to protect their own interests. Those enemies are revealed here by the man once known on Radio Caroline as The Royal Ruler, DMC’s founder Tony Prince, himself a victim of one of radio’s enemies, the Musician’s Union.
In the next episode the History of DJ will explore radio’s position today and what may lie in the future in our digital, personality starved, radio world?
Meanwhile, congratulations to the International Radio Festival and the people of Italy who have welcomed this important annual event into the exciting, stylish, city of Milan.