Charting the Years!

There was a time when we didn't have music on demand. We couldn't have what we wanted, when we wanted it. There were no streaming media services or downloads. If you wanted to listen to your favourite song, and you didn't have the record, the most reliable way of hearing it was during the Top 20 or Top 40 on a Sunday evening.

Do you remember listening to the chart on Radio 1? Many of us would be glued to the radio, keen to know if our favourite song was number 1, and part of the excitement would be listening to the DJ on air counting down the hits. The Radio 1 chart was the event of the week! We cannot stress enough how important it was!

In our series "Charting the Years", part of "Christmas Around the Radio" on Team-FM, we're going to try to recreate that excitement. Fortunately for us, many people recorded the charts from the 60's through to the 80's and beyond, and it's a good job they did. For some of us, these charts are part of our heritage and culture of the time which needs to be preserved. Many recordings have been posted to the internet and are in the public domain. They can be found without too much searching on Youtube, MixCloud and Audioboom, with links frequently being sent out via social media.

At Team-FM, we have taken a number of these publicly available recordings and remastered them. We've improved the audio quality of the original shows, and substituted the songs in the recordings for those commercially available. It's a rare chance to listen to these shows as you've never heard them before, since it's quite possible you would have heard them using a transistor radio on medium wave!

Many DJ's have presented the chart, each with their own individual flair for doing so, bringing characteristics which are well remembered. As Paul Gambiccini observed in his documentary "The Life and Times of the Chart" (6 December 2008), "hosting the Top 40 made the presenter one of the most recognisable voices in radio".

Our focus during this holiday time is 1971 through to 1983. This period was chosen since it demonstrates a wide range of radio presenting styles.

The Presenters.

  • Alan Freeman had already been presenting "Pick of the Pops" for the BBC Light Programme prior to hosting it for Radio 1 from 1967. Alan's fast paced presenting style helped make the show a national institution. He was also known for his catch-phrases and use of the music "at the sign of the swinging cymbal". We've chosen Alan's show presenting the best selling singles of 1971.
  • Tom Brown, (an accomplished actor performing in a number of television roles), took over the chart from October 1972. It was called "Solid Gold Sixty" broadcast from 4 PM to 7 PM. The last hour counted down the BBC Top 20 which was also carried by Radio 2 Long Wave and VHF. Known for his distinctive cultured voice, Tom's first show found David Cassidy at number 1 with "how can I be sure". You will hear Tom Brown in a range of shows from 1976 through to 1978.
  • The man who launched Radio 1 in 1967 was Tony Blackburn. He presented the top 40 from 1979 through to 1982. We focus on 1979, where Tony counts down the best selling singles of that year. Do you remember the music over which he delivered the chart countdown?
  • Tommy Vance was best known for not only playing the songs in the Top 40 but also for telling us about the artists and groups. He would frequently play remixes or alternative versions of the hits. Tommy presented the Top 40 between 1982 and 1984. You can hear him in two fantastic charts from 1982 including the Christmas top 20.
  • Known for being one of the pirate pioneers back in the 60's, Johnny Walker has had an extraordinary and celebrated radio career. What people may not know is that occasionally he would present the top 20, filling in for when Tom Brown was on holiday. Hear him at work in a show from 1973.

Do remember that our in depth documentary, "Charting the Years" this Sunday at 7 PM UK, charts the history of these and other DJ's who hosted the Top 20 and Top 40!

Interesting Points to Note.

As is the case with 99% of our output, (including pre-recorded shows from external sources), full credit will be given to the performing artists and groups, since the song information will be displayed in your media player's window title, in our app for I O S devices, and on our website as the music is playing.

The full integrity of each show is preserved. So if a DJ interrupted a song midway through it, we have been faithful to that. So you will hear the show exactly as it was transmitted.


We hope you enjoy our series "Charting the Years"! For some of you, it will undoubtedly bring back lots of memories. Please feel free to share them with us via Twitter or our Facebook page. For everyone else, join us as we travel back to a time when the chart really meant something, not only to the listeners but to the artists as well, especially at this time of year when we would all want to know what was the Christmas number 1!

Share a truly memorable, musical Christmas around the radio with us on Team-FM!

Radio as it used to be!