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  Johnny Beerling


looking serious (1977)


One didn't get away (2004)


Johnny Beerling was Station Controller from 1985. He produced the first show on Radio One and invented the 'Radio One Roadshow', which was launched in 1973.

He worked at the station for 26 years. He was responsible for giving Simon Dee, Chris Denning and Kenny Everett their first break into BBC radio.

Johnny Beerling was an integral part in the development of Radio 1 until the early 1990's when he was placed under increased pressure from Director General John Birt to make radical changes to the station he loved.

He was controller for eight years until October 1993 when he stepped down, and Matthew Bannister took over the position. Johnny Beerling went on to work at 'Unique Productions', an independent production company, co-founded by Noel Edmonds.

At the Radio Academy's annual conference in 1994, Johnny told the conference that  "life at the BBC had become like working under communism".  He stated that he "left because he could not work under such a totalitarian regime, where his job had less to do with creativity and more to do with bureaucracy". He also attacked Radio One's Danny Baker for "epitomising the new BBC man only interested in promoting his own reputation rather than that of the network as a whole". Speaking afterwards he said that "morale at the BBC had never been lower".  Johnny said (1997) "Listeners are very slow to forgive. If you change one of their friends they might forgive you. If you change, as Matthew Bannister did, all their friends in three months....within three months of me leaving and his taking over, either every DJ was in a new time slot or had been dumped or had left - that's what the audience didn't forgive and that's why it dropped so quickly".

Johnny's biography can be seen in more detail below.

Johnny Beerling - Biography

Johnny started his career in Radio during his national service running a radio station in Aden for the RAF where he doubled as station manager, studio engineer and early morning DJ. 

In 1957 he joined the BBC as a Technical Operator, then Studio Manager, before becoming a producer for the Light Programme. In 1967 the Marine Offences Bill led to the close down of the pirate stations and the BBC decided to set up Radio 1 to provide a legal alternative. Johnny was at the forefront of this process, devising the jingles, recruiting most of the DJ talent and subsequently he produced the first ever show with Tony Blackburn.

 In 1971 he pioneered the first of the Network's rock documentaries, a 14 hour documentary series on the History of the Beatles which established a style of programming, which has continued for 35 years.

 In 1973 he conceived and launched the show for which he is best known, the Radio 1 Roadshow, which has grown from a small caravan operation on Newquay Beach to an 80 foot mobile stage show housed in a series of articulated trucks, supported by a giant outdoor TV display. In 1985 I was appointed Controller of the Radio 1 Network, During his time at Radio 1 it was recognised as one of the leading music broadcasting stations in the world, with a weekly audience of 19 million listeners. Highlight of that time was the broadcasting of Live Aid on July 13 1985.

 In 1992 he was the first non-broadcaster to receive the coveted Ferguson Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio from The Radio Academy and in 1993 was elected President of the Television and Radio Industry Club of Great Britain. 

In 1993 he left the BBC to work as a broadcasting consultant to both TV and Radio. He was Festival Director of BBC Radio s Music Live 95, with over 50 major music concerts showcasing all genres of music staged in Birmingham over the May Bank Holiday weekend.  

In 1997 and 98 he travelled to India to work with Mark Tully on Unique Broadcasting s Something Understood for BBC Radio 4 and in 2002 produced a double cassette of the Life and Times of Kenny Everett for the BBC Radio Collection.  

For the last 16 years Johnny has been Chairman of the Radio Data System (RDS) Forum, an international body which co-ordinates the interests of the world s broadcasters and radio manufacturers involved in data broadcasting.

He was appointed a Governor of the BRITS School for Performing Arts and Technology in May 1993 and in that same month was presented with a SONY Award for Outstanding Services to the Radio Industry. 

In May 2008 Johnny published his book; Radio 1- The Inside Scene . 

Subjects covered;

  • Launch of Radio 1 in 1967.

  • Inside gossip on top DJ s; their tears and their tantrums. John Peel, Noel Edmonds, Tony Blackburn, Dave Lee Travis, Mike Read, Simon Bates, Jimmy Savile.

  • Radio 1 Club.

  • The Beatles Story

  • Radio 1 Roadshow

  • The Politics of working with Chairman Duke Hussey, Directors General Michael Checkland and John Birt.

  • Live Aid

The book is available from:

Johnny's own website can be found at





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Audio BBC/PAMS Productions, Inc./JAM Creative Productions, Inc.


Johnny explains to listeners the background and purpose of the jingles used on Radio 1 - 1978 (10 mins)


NEW Jam Productions and Johnny review the history of Radio 1 Jingles - 1994 (5 mins)







With thanks to Johnny Beerling for Britain's Favourite Music Station and providing biography details/images

 on this page.

Comments (1)

0/5 (0)
Anthony (Accrington Lancashire) says...
This person was the station's BEST controller-he took risks, he knew what worked and what didn't, and he looked after the DJ's, paid them well and respected them for whom they actually were;Matthew Bannister who succeeded him was an utter pillock!!! He plunged the BBC knife into all the best DJ's we knew AND loved, some did a "DLT" and took before he could do it (and who could blame them!!!), while others had been backstabbed before the knife went into them and they ... Read More
11th September 2015 9:10am
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