A Musical Learning Curve 

3 October 2007 tbs.pm/3218

This anniversary suddenly made me think. Is it really 15 years since I copied my mate’s 32 Ones on One album on my dad’s state of the art (and actually still pretty damned fine) Technics hi-fi ? Well… yes.

32 Ones on One was published to celebrate 25 years of the station, and came out in 1992, by which time Radio One had gone FM throughout the day, and had been since 1988.

That, at the age of 17, was when I really started listening to Radio One. I hadn’t listened much before, because it was then a national AM network and I had an affinity with the local radio stations of the time: they had wide eclectic playlists and local personalities.

Previously my limited experience of Radio One had been the Top 40 countdown on a Sunday evening, and on holiday in Cornwall where it was about the only music station you could pick up. But I really started listening for longer stretches because Piccadilly Radio, my favourite station then, split its service and converted FM to what was a for me the disastrous new ‘Key 103’. I just could not get into the bland album tracks that seemed to form most of their output.

As a new convert, I pretty much listened to Radio One solidly from then onwards until its own transformation in the mid 1990s, which coincided with starting my full-time career. When I was a student there had been plenty of time to listen, particularly during those long three month holidays.

Things I fondly recall about Radio One at that time included:

– The Golden Hour. This was responsible for my growing interest in 60s, 70s and 80s pop – learning with real interest about musical eras before mine.

– The Radio One Road Show and my unashamedly copying the ‘Bits and Pieces’ idea to use on my student radio programme; making my own versions on my dad’s hi-fi..

– Simon Mayo’s Breakfast Shows. I can recall the feature where they asked listeners to send in teeshirts from other radio stations and then changed the names. ‘Dead Rag on Radio’ springs to mind.

– Steve Wright in the afternoon – with all the odd characters and unexpected guests.

– The Evening Session which brought new indie bands to the fore and to my attention..

Radio One’s 40th Anniversary? Well actually it crept up on me. I now realise as my editor mentions the date, and in retrospect it suddenly all falls into place. A musical learning curve in my younger life that I almost took for granted – but now can pause to reflect gratefully on.

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