Listen to any radio station today – with DJs and presenters including Lauren Laverne, Dotty, Liz Kershaw, Annie Mac, Josey Rebelle, Cerys Matthews, Amy Lamé, Mary Ann Hobbs or Jane Fitz – and it’s hard to remember a time when women’s voices were silenced. A time when they were only fit to broadcast the occasional continuity announcement – in the Queen’s finest English, naturally – while dressed in their fanciest frock.
Few female presenters were heard on UK national radio until 1966, when along came the woman who changed it all; the one and only Annie Nightingale. Suddenly we had a female voice in music broadcasting. Solitary, we’ll grant you, but there she was. Nightingale secured her place on the long list of women who have influenced – and continue to influence – the soundtrack to our lives. She joins opera singer Leontyne Price, the first African American to appear in a leading role in televised opera in 1955; Delia Derbyshire, BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s superwoman whose pioneering 1960s electronica changed the face of electronic music; The Supremes and their ground-breaking TV appearances in the racially divided America of the mid 1960s; Nina Simone’s tireless campaigning for black civil rights on the world stage; Valerie Simpson’s Motown song writing hit machine; Kate Bush with her influential genius that reaches across generations of female music; Laurie Anderson’s superwoman avant-garde performance art; DJ Smokin’ Jo’s assent to the summit of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 in 1992 (still the only female DJ to do so) and Missy Elliott’s determination to work it in the male dominated genres of rap and R&B.
So, with Nightingale’s debut on the BBC, finally the glass ceiling was broken and the way was open for women to shine in the radio studio, yes? Well, not quite. The pause button was pressed again and it took another *twelve years* before Janice Long became the BBC’s second female music DJ in 1982. Fast forward to the 21st century and the numbers of women compared to men broadcasting still remain shamefully low with campaigning group Sound Women reporting that in 2013, women made up only 20% of solo radio broadcasters. It wasn’t until 2018 that Radio 4’s Today news programme could proudly boast an all-female line-up of presenters and producers, proving that 100 years on from the act of parliament that gave women a vote, it still takes guts, gumption and hefty dose of girl power to access the opportunities and do more than just read the headlines.
And so we look to community radio. The home of change, a place of progress, an opportunity to redress the balance. Here at 1BTN, one of the UK’s most respected independent radio stations, we are striving to increase the diversity and equality of our presenters and we are proud of our roster of female DJs and presenters. They each bring their own unique experiences, passion and downright brilliant taste in music. On Thursday March 8th they will #pressforprogress with their International Women’s Day 1BTN Takeover. A day to celebrate female label owners, producers, vocalists, songwriters, artists, actresses, musicians, sound engineers and DJs. The 1BTN International Women’s Day Takeover will be a day of female broadcasting with over 20 presenters and guests coming together to create a day of empowerment and, of course, excellent tunes!
The genres will be as varied as the ladies in the studio with everything from disco, house, Afro beats, reggae, new wave, tech, global beats, hip-hop, soul, jazz, funk, Latin, broken beat, R&B, jungle, Italo, 80’s Euro-pop, indie, Motown, girl group, Riot Grrrl, Punk, 80s, Rock, electronica, queer pop, jazz funk, rare groove, boogie, psych, and ting and ting. We love a bit of ting ting here at 1BTN.
But then when you have a line-up including The Sista Selectors Anth & Mel, Molly Pop, Lucy Elle Small, Lucie Barat, Jayne Winstanley, Love Is The Message’s Hannah Sherlock, Catherine Sones’ Club Click, Queen Josephine, Kate Wildblood, Suze Rosser Inspired Presents, Clara Suess, Kerry Jean Lister, Jayney Blam Blam, Phantom Power Emma Thompson Murphy, Katie Blackwell and Chantal Irtelli plus guest appearances from soul singer Alice Russell, actress Fiona O’Shaunessy, neo-soul singer-songwriter Isle of CC and Object Ltd label owner Lara Paradinas / Producer Girls, you just know this is going to be a day filled with one love for our one world of women on 1BTN.
This will be a day when we at 1BTN will #pressforprogress for IWD18. #pressforprogress nationally, on the gender pay gap in the workplace, in health and education, and on tackling the unacceptable number of violent acts still perpetrated (and too often unsuccessfully prosecuted) against women in the UK. We will #pressforprogress internationally, for the right to a free and equal education, for freedom from child marriage, sexual exploitation and slavery, for universal reproductive rights, challenging the acceptance of rape culture, to end poverty, homelessness, hunger which disproportionately affects women, and for international action to stop the needless deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth.
International Women’s Day takeover on 1BTN. A day of pressing for change, rejoicing in the achievements of women, and encouraging the next generation of female producers, radio presenters, musicians and singer-songwriters to follow their dreams. A day when we will #pressforprogress. Just like Annie Nightingale and all those who followed in her broadcasting footsteps would want us to.
1BTN International Women’s Day Takeover, tune in to 1BTN from 9 am to midnight on Thursday 8 March.
Listen via 101.4FM and DAB in the Brighton & Hove area, the TuneIn app and on 1btn.fm anywhere in the world.
Words by Kate Wildblood @djwildblood
Artwork by Queen Josephine queenjosephine.org
Inspired by Hannah Sherlock. facebook.com/hannahsherlockphoto/
Facebook Event Page: facebook.com/events/215421425677903/
A note about fundraising
Throughout the International Women’s Day Takeover on 1BTN we will be fundraising for the Brighton Women’s Centre, a service our city relies on to empower women and reduce inequality by promoting independence in a safe, women-only space where all women are welcome, regardless of age, disability, gender, marital status, parenthood, race, belief, and sexuality. By providing vital services including pre-school early education, peer group service and drop-in, mentoring, counselling, holistic therapies, accommodation support, activities hub and their acclaimed Inspire Project which delivers positive alternatives to women experiencing current and historic trauma and abuse, poor mental health, substance misuse, poverty, isolation and unemployment, The Brighton Women’s Centre is at the heart of women’s lives in our city since 1974 and we are proud to support them. For further information and to donate please go to www.womenscentre.org.uk/