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BBC first Women DJ Annie Nightingale dies, 83



. She succumbed to a brief illness. Her family fondly remembers her as a ‘pioneer, trailblazer, and inspiration to many’ as they pay tribute to her legacy.

BBC first Women DJ

Radio 1’s iconic DJ Annie Nightingale passed away peacefully at the age of 83 after a brief illness at her home. Her family honors her as a ‘pioneer, trailblazer, and inspiration to many’.

Having joined Radio 1 in 1970 as its inaugural female DJ, Nightingale became the longest-serving host, leaving an indelible mark. Renowned for championing emerging and underground music, she also earned praise for her advocacy for women in the predominantly male-dominated industry.

BBC director general Tim Davie today praised Nightingale as a ‘uniquely gifted broadcaster who graced us with her love of music and dedication to journalism for five decades’. Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard fondly referred to her as an ‘all-time radio great’.

Trevor Nelson, a DJ and presenter who initiated his broadcasting journey in the 1980s and continues to host on BBC Radio 1Xtra, expressed his sentiments about Nightingale. Despite her two divorces, he acknowledged that she made him ‘feel like music broadcasting is for life’.


In a heartfelt post on X, Nelson wrote, ‘Dear Annie, you were more than just a trailblazer for women on radio; you made me feel like music broadcasting is a lifelong journey. Rave in peace.’

Jo Whiley, a BBC Radio 2 presenter with her own enduring show on Radio 1, paid tribute to Nightingale as ‘the coolest woman who ever graced the airwaves.’ Whiley emphasized Nightingale’s unyielding trailblazing spirit, stating, ‘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.’

In a statement released by the family today, it was announced that Annie Nightingale MBE passed away at her London home yesterday following a brief illness.

The family statement reads, ‘Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer, and an inspiration to many. Her commitment to sharing her enthusiasm with audiences remains unwavering after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally.’

Highlighting her impact as a role model, the statement emphasizes Nightingale’s defiance against sexual prejudice and male fear, providing encouragement to generations of young women who, like her, simply wanted to share their love for an amazing tune.


Witnessing Nightingale’s contributions, whether as a presenter on the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test in the 1970s or playing the latest breakbeat techno on Radio One, is described as a testament to someone who never lost faith in the magic of rock ‘n’ roll.

The statement concludes by announcing a celebration of Nightingale’s life scheduled for the spring at a memorial service.

Nightingale’s broadcasting journey began in 1963 when she appeared as a panelist on Juke Box Jury, eventually joining Radio 1 seven years later. She held the position of the station’s sole female DJ until 1982 when Janice Long joined, credited with paving the way for future female DJs like Sara Cox, Jo Whiley, and Zoe Ball.

Throughout her career, Nightingale, a DJ with a global reach, shared experiences of being ‘mugged in Cuba, drugged in Baghdad, and bugged in Russia.’ As the first woman to present the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test music show on BBC Two, she left an indelible mark and authored two autobiographical books.

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