Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker from Hampton-in-Arden, near Birmingham, he was born Peter Dingley on 30th March 1945. After leaving Solihull public school at the age of 15, he worked as a second-hand car salesman and disco DJ under the name “Peter Dee.” He joined “Swinging” Radio England at its start in May 1966 but was told he would have to change his name as Peter Dee was too similar to that of another DJ, Roger Day. He chose his new identity from a tape of American radio jingles and became “Johnnie Walker.”

Johnnie Walker MBE

photo (c) G Ewens

In October he moved to Caroline South as the station swing-jock, deputising for whichever DJ was on shore-leave. He soon took over the 9-midnight show which he quickly made his own. Johnnie’s very intimate personal style of broadcasting was hugely popular and his Kiss in the Car, Frinton Flashing and Ten O’Clock Turn On features broke new ground in British radio. His theme tune was Duane Eddy’s Because They’re Young.

Johnnie was at the forefront of the mid-sixties soul boom and was President of “Uptight’n’Outtasight,” the Atlantic Records Appreciation Society. He stayed with Caroline despite the passing of the Marine Offences Act and shared the duties of Programme Controller and Senior DJ for the South ship with Robbie Dale. Their programme at midnight on 14th August 1967, as the Act became law, must have had the largest offshore audience ever.

 

In 1967 he began referring to himself as “Sir” Johnnie Walker after being inexplicably left off the New Year Honours list.

 

Caroline closed down in March 1968 and a year later Johnnie joined BBC Radio One. Despite the success of this show he was not happy playing the chart hits of the day and decided to try his luck in America. In June 1976 he left Radio One for KSAN, San Francisco. While in the States he sent over taped shows for Radio Luxembourg. He returned to the UK in 1981 and worked for Radio West and GWR.

Johnnie WalkerIn January 1987 Johnnie rejoined Radio One to present its Saturday Stereo Sequence, moving in July 1988 to Radio Radio, Virgin’s night-time syndication service. In October he joined GLR, the BBC’s local station for London. Two years later he was on the move again to the BBC’s new Radio 5 and, in August 1991, returned to Radio One. In 1998 he transferred to Radio Two and has continued to be one of the network’s best and most popular stars.

In May 2004, at the Sony Radio Awards, Elton John presented Johnnie with a gold award to mark his outstanding contribution to radio, in December 2005 he was inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame and, in the New Year Honours list of 2006, he received an MBE.Johnnie published his Autobiography the following year.

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