The Daily Telegraph
Australian broadcaster who in 1967 was one of the original DJS at the BBC’S new pop station Radio 1
JOHNNY MORAN, who has died aged 78, was one of the first disc jockeys recruited for Radio 1 when the BBC launched its first all-rock and pop station in September 1967; he stayed seven years, his programmes being commended to listeners by the young John Peel.
An Australian with roots in Sheffield, Moran was one of an eclectic band of 22 presenters, including Pete Murray, Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett and Terry Wogan, most of whom appeared in the famous launch photograph on the steps of All Souls, Langham Place, next to Broadcasting House.
He had previously spent two years as an announcer with Radio Luxembourg, then in 1974 was the first voice heard on Sheffield’s commercial station Radio Hallam, presenting there for more than a decade.
Moran enjoyed the friendship of the stars, notably Dusty Springfield – who gave him an engraved gold pen and stayed in touch – the young Elton John and the Rolling Stones. He took enduring pride in his involvement with the start of many careers.
John Geoffrey Moran was born in Melbourne on September 18 1943. His mother, Phillis (Polly), had emigrated from Sheffield and married Johnny’s father in Australia. The marriage did not last.
Leaving school, he worked on a Melbourne radio station, then a national one. But his dream was to break through in Europe, hanging out with the bands and becoming a household name. Booking a sea passage over, he celebrated his 19th birthday mid-voyage.
Arriving in London, Moran went straight to the BBC. He auditioned well, but was told he was too young to be taken on.
Instead, in 1964 he joined Radio Luxembourg as a staff announcer. Melody Maker’s “The Raver” column dubbed him (perhaps because of his Australian origins) “the second Alan Freeman”.
One of his duties included putting on tapes of the American evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. He would listen out for the first 10 seconds of organ music to make sure the programme was going out, then make for the office to put his own show together. “One time,” he recalled, “I put the tape on, heard the music, and didn’t return until half an hour later to find the whole tape had gone out backwards. We didn’t get one complaint.”
Moran left Radio Luxembourg in 1966, the BBC Light Programme taking him on for shows including
The BBC then broadcast limited pop and rock music, leaving Luxembourg and the offshore pirate stations a near-monopoly during the explosion of 1960s teenage culture. Eventually Parliament banned the pirates, leaving the BBC to start a station of its own – Radio 1, launched on September 30 1967; the first record played was the Move’s Flowers in the Rain.
Some of the DJS recruited from pirate stations received little work and were soon dropped, but Moran became the regular presenter of Scene and Heard, an hour-long weekend magazine programme featuring new sounds, pop news, views and interviews.
In 1970, when Peel took a month’s holiday, Moran hosted a show in his Top Gear slot called First Gear,
concentrating on “pre-beatles pop”. On his return, Peel praised Moran for his efforts – leading to his presenting a regular Sunday afternoon oldies show,
All Our Yesterplays.
Many of the discs featured in these programmes came from the personal collection of their producer Bernie Andrews, rather than from the BBC’S own supposedly exhaustive library. In October 1970, Moran dedicated a record on All Our Yesterplays to Peel after the two DJS had played together in a Radio 1 football team (losing 6-1 to a London University XI).
Scene and Heard was dropped in 1973, and Moran began working for the British Forces Network and recording shows syndicated to North America.
Then, at a party for the singer Barry White, his Radio 1 colleague and longtime friend Keith Skues offered him the chance to relaunch his career in Sheffield. Skues was rolling out Radio Hallam with himself as programme director, and invited Moran to join him.
Moran, with his roots in the city, jumped at the chance to join Britain’s fifth commercial station. Once in Sheffield, he kept a long-made promise to his mother to bring her home.
Radio Hallam went live on October 1 1974 with Moran as its voice. At first he presented the breakfast show (“Johnny Moran is your man, He’s gonna wake you up every day, Johnny Moran is your man, He’s gonna get you up and on your way”). Later, he occupied the lunchtime slot.
Moran also became a star of Hallam’s indoor cricket team, in a league organised by the Yorkshire and England batsman Jackie Hampshire. Leaving Hallam in the late 1980s, he worked briefly for Magic 828 in Leeds, then for an AM Gold station in Bradford.
He then disappeared from public view, and in the mid-1990s the Sheffield Star suggested that he had died. In fact he had found happiness with his second wife Hetty, whom he had first met years before. They spent much of their time together, first in Devon and later in France, but Moran was “home” in Sheffield when he died.
Johnny Moran was twice married. He and Hetty married in the early 1990s; she died in 2019, and he is survived by his stepson.
Johnny Moran, born September 18 1943, died August 7 2022