The role of the disc jockey (DJ) was specifically geared to the presenting of pop music shows on radio, but their role has changed dramatically over the years. Many DJs have expanded their job descriptions to include other media, notably television and record producing.
   The birth of the DJ as personality came with the rise of pirate radio stations in the 1960s. DJs such as Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett, John Peel and Dave Lee Travis all cut their teeth on pirate stations before the formation of BBC Radio 1 in 1967. Working for the BBC opened up new vistas for these DJs, particularly within television. Beginning by hosting pop programmes such as Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test, DJs went on to front many other entertainment programmes. Most notable within this category is Noel Edmonds, former Radio Luxembourg DJ and now the multimillionaire owner of his own production company providing programmes for the BBC. Many of the presenters have been accused of owning an inflated ego, using their radio and television slots to put forward their opinions on events not linked to their job. This ‘cult of the DJ’ was satirized brilliantly by comedian Harry Enfield through his characters ‘Smashie and Nicey’, both of whom were heavy rock-loving, farm-owning, pipe-smoking caricatures of Radio 1 DJs Dave Lee Travis, Alan Freeman and Tony Blackburn. The accusations of presenters being out of touch with the new music scene led to a massive clear out of ageing DJs at Radio 1 in the early 1990s, the only exception being John Peel, long a champion of new music and the only presenter to have been with the station since its inception in 1967.
   Outside broadcasting, many DJs became famous as recording artists, particularly after the house music explosion of the early 1990s. First involved in remixing current songs, DJs went on to become powerful figures in the music world, as producers and innovators. DJs who mixed live during club nights would develop reputations, leading to heavily oversubscribed club nights and the birth of the ‘superclub’, the best example of which is Cream in Liverpool. Names such as Mark Moore, Todd Terry and Jazzie B in the 1980s, and more recently Norman Cook, Sash and the Chemical Brothers, are examples of club DJs turned recording artists. The reverse has also occurred, with some established recording artists turning DJ, the best examples being Boy George (of Culture Club) and Bob Stanley (of St Etienne).
   See also: Radio 2

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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