Annie Nightingale: The first woman DJ on BBC Radio 1 dies aged 83

Her show, Annie Nightingale with the biggest bass bangers, could still be heard on the airwaves up until December 2023.

‘Trailblazing pioneer’ DJ Annie Nightingale, has died aged 83 her family say

Annie Nightingale, the first woman DJ to appear on BBC Radio 1, has died aged 83 after a short illness.

Nightingale, who first broadcast on the station in 1970, remained the only female presenter up until 1982.

As the station’s longest-serving host, her show, Annie Nightingale presents…, could still be heard on the airwaves up until December 2023.

Her family said: “Annie Nightingale MBE passed away yesterday 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.

“Never underestimate the role model she became. Breaking down doors by refusing to bow down to sexual prejudice and male fear gave encouragement to generations of young women who, like Annie, only wanted to tell you about an amazing tune they had just heard.

“Watching Annie do this on television in the 1970s, most famously as a presenter on the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, or hearing her play the latest breakbeat techno on Radio One is testimony to someone who never stopped believing in the magic of rock ‘n’ roll.

“A celebration of her life will take place in the spring at a Memorial Service.

“The family request privacy at this time.”

The statement added that a celebration of her life will be taking place in the spring at a memorial service.

Nightingale first broadcast on the BBC in 1963 as a panellist on Juke Box Jury, before joining Radio 1 seven years later.

For more arts and entertainment news, listen to our podcast Unscripted…

As a DJ she has travelled the world, and once said she had been “mugged in Cuba, drugged in Baghdad and bugged in Russia”.

During her trailblazing career, she was the first woman to present the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test music show which aired on BBC Two and has written two autobiographical books.

In 2019, she was made a CBE for services to radio having previously been made an MBE in 2002.

She helped aspiring radio stars get into the industry with her Annie Nightingale Presents Scholarship, which she set up in 2021.

Each year three recipients of her award appeared in a special edition of Annie Nightingale Presents on Radio 1.

Nightingale, said: “I was the first ever female DJ on radio and am now the longest serving presenter of any gender.

“Ever since I began, I have wanted to help other young broadcasters passionate about music to achieve their dreams on the airwaves, and now we at Radio 1 are to put that on a proper footing.”

Nightingale paved the way for stars including Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Jo Whiley, who paid tribute on X.

Whiley said: “The coolest woman who ever graced the airwaves.

“She blazed a trail for us all and never compromised. Her passion for music never diminished.
Annie – My utmost respect and thanks for it all. “

The BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, said Annie Nightingale was a “uniquely gifted broadcaster” and hailed her as a “champion for female broadcasters” as he paid tribute following her death aged 83.

DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson, who started his broadcasting career in the 1980s and still presents on BBC Radio 1Xtra, has said Annie Nightingale had him “feel like music broadcasting is for life”.

“Dear Annie, you were more than just a trailblazer for women on radio, you made me feel like music broadcasting is for life,” he posted on X. “Rave in peace.”

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