"I got a rockin' little record I want my jockey to play." And so it goes, but it all began 135 years ago on August 12, 1877 when Edison invented the phonograph, paving the way for the radio disc-jockey. Today you might wonder where the DJ's are hiding. Over the years we've all had our favorites - I've had mine; Alan Freed, Dick Clark, Big Jack, Doc Nemo, Don Geronimo, Wolf Man Jack and Joe Johnson's on my list too!
We constantly ask Beatle Brunch listeners to call their local radio stations and tell the management how much the programming is appreciated. Sometimes we make it sound as if The Brunch is all that matters, I mean after all, it certainly has carved out its place in history, but where are the station DJ's? It's one thing to call the radio station and ask for more Beatles music, though now it appears that we have to ask for the return of the radio personality, the audience engagements and the interaction with the community. Do you get the feeling that radio is being over-consulted with too many marketing surveys and demographic studies? A simple fact - loyal radio listeners want basic stuff; they want a host; a personality to entertain them. Listeners want a designated person to provide information and in between play music from a complimentary song list. My take - radio should deliver programs like Television. Doesn't anyone want to produce programs anymore? Once upon a time radio produced FABulous programs that provided great entertainment and it was delivered by very special, talented people.
When Edison brought the phonograph into the Scientific American offices in New York and demonstrated it, he placed a little machine on the desk, turned a crank, and a voice inquired as to the health of the group and asked how they liked the phonograph, then bid everyone a cordial good night. Yep, it all started like that!
Here are the top 10 most influential spin doctors in the radio biz, then and now, as reported by The Guardian Newspaper, UK
1) Dewey Phillips
'Daddy-O' Dewey is best known as the first DJ to play The King, but he deserves much more than a simple footnote in Elvis biographies. Alan Freed may be more famous, but Phillips was the original rock'n'roll broadcaster. His Red, Hot and Blue show went out on WHBQ in Memphis six nights a week from 9pm to midnight, and from 1949 he played a hitherto unheard mix of R'n' B, blues and country that was shortly to mutate into Rock'n'Roll. The excitable and flamboyant Phillips was prone to riffing over records with his incongruous non sequiturs, and even adlibbed adverts for local furniture stores and the like: 'Tell 'em Dewey sent ya!' His style was washed up on the shore as the British Invasion swept America, and he died in 1968.
2) John Peel
While the anniversary of Peel's untimely death falls next month, his influence lives on. BBC Radio 6 in its entirety would have been unthinkable without Peel who, it should be stressed, championed causes that, time and again, were anathema to his listeners. His Sixties Perfumed Garden audience loathed reggae and then punk, his Seventies fans later bleated about Belgian techno. Did he care? Not one jot.
3) Christopher Stone
The genteel Cholmondeley-Warner lookalike was the first DJ to broadcast on the BBC in July 1927. The Beeb initially dismissed the idea of a program based around playing records, but Stone convinced them otherwise. On his 75th birthday, in 1957, Melody Maker eulogized: 'Everyone who has written, produced or compeered a gramophone program should salute the founder of his trade.'
4) Alan Freed
You can't get much more influential than coining the term 'Rock'n'Roll' as Freed did. He was instrumental in propelling the careers of acts such as Bill Haley and the Comets, first in Cleveland on WJW, then in New York. He also held the first rock concert and became synonymous with the phrase 'payola' when he took writing credits on songs such as Chuck Berry's 'Roll Over Beethoven' in exchange for airplay. (So that's where that lyric came from)
5) Kenny Everett
His politics and sense of humor were questionable, but Everett was an innovative force in radio. First at pirate station Radio London in the Sixties, Radio Caroline, Radio 1, then Capital London, Everett pioneered the 'personality' DJ approach, utilising home-made sound effects, trailers and fantasy characters, and was sacked several times for jokes that went too far. Everett, who had contracted Aids, died in 1995.
6) Miss P
Margaret Anderson started broadcasting in 1979 on the seminal Neasden pirate station Dread Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), founded by her brother Depke. The first black-owned and controlled radio station in Europe, DBC mainly played reggae, soca, calypso, dub, jazz and R'n'B. Miss P went on to the be the first reggae DJ on Radio 1. She now presents the Saturday night show Riddim and Blues on Radio London.
7) Rodney Bingenheimer
Bingenheimer has lived the seedy Sunset Strip dream for most of his life. He auditioned for Davey Jones's role in the Monkees but was thought too young. Through his long-reigning radio show, he befriended everyone from Brian Wilson to Bowie and Oasis. Elvis once gave him his driving license. The 2003 documentary Mayor of Sunset Strip, however, revealed a melancholic Rodney stuck in a time warp.
He will be forever derided in some quarters for his lack of 'street' credentials (his father is the former Bishop of Peterborough), but Westwood has been the daddy of British hip hop for two decades. The big American rappers always show Westwood respect, except KRS One, who called him a 'wigga' live on air, and Chuck D, who accused him of glamorizing gangsta rap. Lives the dream, in his own middle-aged way.
9) The Hot Mix 5
DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy were the first to play embryonic house in the Chicago clubs of the early Eighties, but it was The Hot Mix 5 - Scott Smokin' Silz, Kenny Jammin' Jason, Farley Funkin' Keith (later Farley Jackmaster Funk), Mickey Mixin' Oliver and Ralphi Rockin' Rosario - who honed the mixing techniques and spread the word on their Saturday night show Hot Mix Dance Party on WBMX.
10) Mikey Dread
Jamaican Michael Campbell - aka Mikey Dread - broadcast on the graveyard shift on the island's JBC station in 1976. Avid listeners would record the show and regularly send tapes to friends and relatives in London - the first chance many had to hear Jamaica's new hits. The Clash heard Mikey Dread before going on to record 'Bank Robber', and then tour Britain and the US, with him.