Johnny Beerling

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John William Beerling
Born (1937-04-12) 12 April 1937 (age 78)[1]
England, UK
Children David Beerling

John William "Johnny" Beerling (born 12 April 1937) is a British radio producer and station controller.[1][2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

He attended the Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich, Kent.[1]


National Service[edit]

He began his radio career during national service from 1955–7 when he ran a radio station for the Royal Air Force station British Forces Aden in the Aden Protectorate, acting as its station manager, studio engineer and morning DJ.


In 1957 he joined the BBC as a Technical Operator and soon became a Studio Manager, where he acquired sound mixing and editing skills on a variety of different styles of programming. In the early sixties he was appointed as a producer in the Gramophone Department where he worked on a large number of popular programmes such as "Housewives Choice", "Midday Spin", and "Two Way Family Favourites" as well as late evening shows like "Music to Midnight" it was Beerling who brought in Simon Dee from the pirate radio scene and he was also the first producer of Terry Wogan. As an admirer of the pirate radio stations he devised a fast moving new radio show on Saturdays called "Where It's At" which used the early talents of Kenny Everett. Beerling was one of the few employees of the BBC Light Programme in the mid-1960s to regard the model of offshore pirate radio as one which the BBC would have to follow and to that end he managed to take a trip to visit Radio London to see for himself how they operated.

Radio 1[edit]

In 1967 the Marine Offences Bill led to the close down of the pirate radio stations and the BBC decided to set up Radio 1 to provide a legal alternative. Johnny was at the forefront of this process, recruiting the DJ talent and devising the jingles, subsequently producing the first ever show with Tony Blackburn. He became and Executive Producer in 1972 and in 1973 he conceived and launched the show for which he is best known, the Radio 1 Roadshow. This grew from a small caravan operation on Newquay Beach to an 80-foot mobile stage show housed in a series of articulated trucks, supported by a giant outdoor TV display visited by 500,000 people a year.

In 1985 he was appointed Controller of the Radio 1 Network, responsible for the entire output including such major projects as the sound for Live Aid. During his time there he did much to move the station away from the "Smashy and Nicey" image by appointing more music oriented presenters like Mark Goodier, Nicky Campbell and Simon Mayo. He oversaw the transfer of the Network from AM to a better quality FM transmission system. In programming he was responsible to for increasing the Social Action campaigns, extending the News coverage and increasing the coverage of live concerts and music sessions recorded in Radio 1 studios. He also introduced comedy onto the airwaves of Radio 1 with shows like "The Mary Whitehouse Experience" and "Victor Lewis Smith".

Since then he has published his latest autobiographical book, "Radio 1-The Inside Scene" to celebrate Radio 1's 40th Anniversary. (

Beerling left the station in October 1993, and many of the station's veteran DJs either resigned or were sacked when Matthew Bannister succeeded him as controller. The network's ethos, music policy and target audience changed dramatically.[citation needed] Beerling publicly criticised the new regime at the BBC, specifically in the person of director-general John (now Lord) Birt.

The BBC re-hired Beerling in May 1995, and he organised the "Music Live '95" event in Birmingham which was broadcast across all the BBC National Networks, including Radio 1.

Radio Data System (

Johnny Beerling has been involved with the Radio Data System since 1985 when the BBC appointed him Chairman of the "Programme Experts Group" whose job was to promote the system worldwide and ensure that radios capable of using it became generally available.

He was responsible for it across the whole of Europe via the European Broadcasting Union, (EBU) which represented the public broadcasters for all of Western Europe.

It was Beerling who had the now familiar RDS logo designed and who was responsible for encouraging car manufacturers to line fit RDS radios in their cars, the first companies to do so were Ford and General motors

The developers aimed at making radio receivers very user-friendly, especially car radios when these are used where a transmitter network with a number of alternative frequencies (AF) is present. In addition listeners were enabled to see the programme service name (PS) on an eight character alpha-numerical display by an RDS radio. Travel information with RDS is also delivered using the Travel Programme (TP) and Travel Announcement (TA) flags. Today RDS is widely used and many millions of radios in homes, offices and cars use the technology without being aware of it. In 1999, the EBU decided to end support for the Radio Data System so an independently funded group was set up to represent the interests of all those concerned, it was called "The RDS Forum", based in Geneva and Johnny Beerling was elected chairman, a role he has held up to the present time.

Unique Productions[edit]

After his departure from Radio 1, Beerling went to work alongside Noel Edmonds, with his production company Unique Productions where he was Chairman of Unique Special Projects, (USP) and responsible for "Music Live '95" production for the BBC. Since 2007 has lectured regularly about broadcasting and popular music on ships operated by Cunard, Fred Olson, Saga, Thomson, P&O and Cruise Maritime.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1992 he was the first non-broadcaster to receive the coveted Ferguson Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio from The Radio Academy and in 1993 was elected President of the Television and Radio Industry Club of Great Britain. He was appointed as a Governor of the BRITS School for Performing Arts and Technology in May 1993 and in that same month was presented with a Sony Award for Outstanding Services to the Radio Industry. In 2005 was made a Fellow of the Radio Academy, the highest award in the radio industry.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In 1959 he married Carol Ann Reynolds. They divorced in 1991 and have a son (David Beerling[5]) and daughter. In 1993 he married Celia Margeret Potter. They divorced in 1998. In 1999 he married Susan Patricia Armstrong. He lives in Skipton.


  1. ^ a b c BEERLING, John William. Who's Who 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Johnny Beerling career summary
  3. ^ The events of 1 September 1988 perhaps best sum up the glamour of Johnny Beerling's eight years as controller of BBC Radio 1, BBC News
  4. ^ Radio 1 – The Inside Scene, ISBN 1-4251-5729-7, 18 April 2008, Trafford Publishing Audio version read by Beerling via Amazon,com
  5. ^ BEERLING, Prof. David John. Who's Who 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  (subscription required)

Preceded by
Derek Chinnery
Controller, BBC Radio 1
Succeeded by
Matthew Bannister