It was a seismic moment in radio history when, on 30 September 1967, the BBC launched Radio 1, with the creation of Radios 2, 3 and 4 – previously the Light Programme, the Third Programme and the Home Service – following in its wake.


Radio Times was there when it happened – “the swinging new radio service”, we called it – and to mark its 50th anniversary, we looked back and decided to ask a question: who is the greatest BBC radio broadcaster of the past 50 years?

For the answer, we turned to within: leading radio broadcasters and industry figures, along with writers and radio critics. A host of them responded (39 women, 39 men) and here is the result: a celebration of greatness, a pageant of presenters and much-loved voices.

Contributors were asked for their top 15 names from the past 50 years – helped by an aide-memoire of around 100 names – and then the number-crunching began. No one voted for themselves, and many a great name didn’t make the 50. Where names tied, Radio Times had the casting vote. But there was clear blue water between almost everybody – and between all the top ten.

By Simon O'Hagan

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50 Jimmy Young

Recipe for success

“What’s the recipe today, Jim?” asked Raymondo, and the Radio 2 giant never failed to deliver. He mattered so much that Margaret Thatcher was a guest on his show 14 times.

49 Cerys Matthews

Lilt of the valley

Sunday-morning balm to the soul, courtesy of Wales’s finest, whose show is the most listened to on 6 Music.

48 Daphne Oxenford

Are you sitting comfortably?

Listen with Mother ended in 1971 but older contributors to the poll can still feel the magic its presenter brought to childhood.

47 Paul Merton

Marvel of the minute

His first Just a Minute was in 1989. Only Clement Freud has more appearances to his name, but surely no one’s delivered more laughs than Merton.

46 Johnnie Walker

Ship ahoy!


The pirate radio pioneer who stepped ashore and joined Radio 1 in the late 1960s. With Sounds of the 70s, he’s still hoisting the Radio 2 mainsail.