Annie Nightingale has died after a short illness.
She started her career with BBC’s Radio 1 in 1970. Known by everyone as ‘Annie,’ she was the station’s longest-serving female DJ and was the only female presenter until 1982 when Janice Long arrived.
Her family announced: “Annie Nightingale MBE passed away on January 11 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 global broadcasting on BBC TV and radio.”
.Anne Nightingale worked as a reporter in the early to mid-1960s, and then, inspired by the proliferation of pirate radio stations, she lobbied the BBC for a job as a DJ. The BBC had been instructed to set up a pop music station in 1967 when Harold Wilson’s government outlawed the pirate stations, and Annie wanted to work there. However, when Radio 1 was first launched, the BBC banned employing women on air! It took her three years of lobbying, and with support from the Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor, she finally managed to persuade the station to give her a trial run.
Nightingale presented several shows on radio and TV and joined The Old Grey Whistle Test as co-host in 1978 following the departure of Bob Harris. In 2002, she was awarded an OBE for services to radio broadcasting, and in 2020, she was appointed CBE.
BBC director General Tim Davie called Nightingale “a uniquely gifted broadcaster who blessed us with her love of music and passion for journalism for over 50 years. As well as being a trailblazer for new music, she was a champion for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry.”
Nightingale produced three memoirs during her life and 2020 published ‘Hey Hi Hello: Five Decades of Pop Culture from Britain’s First Female DJ’, where she wrote: “From day one, I chose the records I wanted to play, and stuck to it ever since. I wasn’t there for the ‘exposure’. I preferred the evenings, where I wouldn’t have to introduce playlist tunes I didn’t like”.
She is survived by her two children, Alex and Lucy.