Happy Daze : Turn On Tune In, 1970s Radio

Time to tune in to some prime time nostalgia. Roberts Radios, the classic British radio manufacturer, has just reissued its classic ‘70s Rambler model, and it’s got us thinking about the golden years of audio entertainment. 

We weren’t all podcasted and audiobooked up to the eyeballs back then. A big night in was a turn of the dial away, filled with music and chat from chirpy fellows with serious haircuts.

With that in mind, here are our top five ‘70s radio highlights.

1. The Archers

The ‘70s were not an easy time down on the farms of the Archers; it was being beaten in the ratings by rival radio soap the Waggoner’s Walk. As if that wasn’t enough, Lester ‘Nick’ Nicholson died in a sleepwalking accident, Grey Gables got burgled, and the very real threat of a townie invasion led to the formation of the Ambridge Protection Society.

Still, by the end of the decade, the Waggoner’s was no more and the Archers continued their reign in peace.

2. Pirate Radio

If cosy afternoons with the Archers didn’t turn your dial, you could go rogue and tune into some illicit broadcasting. The ‘70s were a golden age for pirate radio, with stations like Radio Caroline, Luxembourg and Capital bringing unsanctioned music around the clock.

3. Terry Wogan

Somewhat less subversive but still much-loved, Terry Wogan took over the BBC 2 breakfast show in 1972. He held the breakfast show on-and-off until 2009, and in 1978 scored himself a surprise chart hit with ‘The Floral Dance’.

4. John Peel

Saturday afternoons were sacred for music fans. While most music DJs were churning out ultra-dull prog rock from the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, John Peel spent the ‘70s introducing the UK to everything from Be-Bop Deluxe to Joy Division.


5. Standards, please

John Peel may have been flying the flag for new music, but the BBC wasn’t all so forward thinking. Back then, Aunty Beeb took her responsibility for the nation’s morality seriously and wasn’t beyond banning songs if they didn’t meet her standards.

Donna Summer, The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers all had songs found unfit for public consumption, and in 1972, the song ‘Hi Hi Hi’ by well-known rabble rousers Paul McCartney and the Wings was banned by the Beeb for the line, ‘gonna get you ready for body gun’. The words were actually ‘Get you ready for my polygon’, but still. The principle of the thing.