Tuesday, 19 July 2011

DJ Heaven - Simon Bates

Think of Simon Bates and you’ll probably think of Our Tune and The Golden Hour. They’re a feature of his current show on Smooth just as they were thirty years ago on Radio 1.

Simon has had a varied career that started ‘down under’ back in the 1960s. Here’s his mini-biography taken from the 1980 Radio 1 Diary:

Simon Bates was born in Birmingham in December 1947 and was brought up on his parents’ farm in Shropshire.

After an unsuccessful brush with university, he went to New Zealand where he made his broadcasting debut as ‘Boy’ in a radio serialisation of Tarzan, while earning a living milking cows. He stayed in New Zealand with the NZBC for four years becoming well known for his television work and his commercial radio show.

In 1969 he moved to Australia and spent the next two years with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Sydney, introducing a weekly television arts programme and migrant community affairs programmes, as well as travelling around the Pacific a good deal.

Simon joined Radio 1 in 1976 and after deputising for holidaying disc jockeys was given his own Sunday morning show in July that year. At the end of the following year he took over the Monday to Friday mid-morning programme from Tony Blackburn and has also presented Sunday afternoon’s chart show since 1978.

Whenever he has the time Simon combines disc jockeying with work as a television announcer. Although he lives in London, he spends as much time as he can on the farm in Shropshire, following his main outside interest – riding.

In fact the biography overlooks the fact that Simon initially joined the BBC as a Radio 4 announcer and newsreader before transferring to Radio 2 in 1972. Here he hosted a range of programmes,such as Late Night Extra, Sweet ‘n’ Swing, Folk 73, Dancing to Midnight, At the Jazz Band Ball, Saturday Night with the BBC Radio Orchestra and, for two years, The Early Show.

Simon’s break on Radio 1 was prompted by Johnnie Walker leaving his lunchtime show and Radio 1 to work in the States. Paul Burnett moved from Sunday mornings to lunchtime and it was Simon that took over Paul’s show that the Radio Times titled All There is to Hear, although Bates seemed to refer to it as The Music Machine in this short clip.

As is well recorded Simon left Radio 1 before he was pushed by Mathew Bannister’s sweeping reforms. Thereafter, stints at Atlantic 252, Liberty, Talk Radio, LBC and a many years at Classic FM followed before he moved back to pop radio earlier this year on Smooth’s Breakfast Show, complete with The Golden Hour and Our Tune.

But back to 1993 and another edition of the BBC2 programme DJ Heaven featuring our Simon. This was broadcast on 6th November.

Simon maintains his farm interests by visting the Howden
Young Farmers back in 1989.
Goole Times & Chronicle 26 June 1989
More Bates audio at Radio Rewind

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