Annie Nightingale, Radio 1’s first female DJ, has died aged 83

Nightingale championed dance music during her incredible radio career, spotlighting underground sub-genres before a mainstream audience.

A black and white photo of Annie Nightingale taken in 1970. She is sitting in a radio studio with a set of headphones on. A mic is positioned on an metal arm in front of her.

Image: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Annie Nightingale, who was the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1, has died aged 83. Nightingale held the record for the station’s longest-serving DJ, and championed the best in dance music during her show, Annie Nightingale Presents.

She passed away on 11 January at her home in London following a short illness, her family have confirmed in a statement. “Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer and an inspiration to many. Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally,” it reads.

“Never underestimate the role model she became. Breaking down doors by refusing to bow down to sexual prejudice and male fear gave encouragement to generations of young women who, like Annie, only wanted to tell you about an amazing tune they had just heard.”

Nightingale joined Radio 1 in 1970 and never left. In her shows, she spotlighted the “biggest bass bangers” of electronic music. Her most recent broadcast took place on 19 December 2023, and her final words on air were “lots of love, from me to you”.

BBC Radio 1 has shared a statement online which reads, “BBC Radio 1 is extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Radio 1 DJ, Annie Nightingale CBE. Our deepest condolences are with Annie’s friends and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Other figures in the broadcast industry have also shared their tributes to the trailblazer. Zane Lowe writes on Instagram, “Annie Nightingale was one of the greatest DJs, on the decks, in the room and on the air, of all time. Obsessed with music, her impeccable taste pushed boundaries and carved out space for great creative careers.

“She was the first, a true pioneer and a strong and inspiring voice that felt as personal on the radio as it did if you were lucky enough to know Annie and benefit from her wisdom and humour. She was amazing. I admired her hugely. Thank you Annie.”

Annie Macmanus also called Nightingale’s passing a “devastating loss”, further writing, “Annie Nightingale was a trailblazer, spirited, adventurous, fearless, hilarious, smart, and so good at her job. This is the woman who changed the face and sound of British TV and Radio broadcasting forever. You can’t underestimate it.

“Before Annie Nightingale came on Radio 1, it was legitimately believed by BBC bosses that people didn’t want to hear women’s voices on the radio. Radio DJs were seen as husband substitutes for the wives who listened at home. God forbid British women might want to listen to other women.”

You can read further tributes to the legendary DJ below:


Get the latest news, reviews and tutorials to your inbox.

Join Our Mailing List & Get Exclusive DealsSign Up Now

The world’s leading media brand at the intersection of music and technology.

© 2024 MusicTech is part of NME Networks.