Buried deep within BBC documents is the remit of Radio 1 – as founded back in 1967 to counter Britain’s pirate radio stations at the time. In their own words, “the remit of Radio 1 is to entertain and engage a broad range of young listeners with a distinctive mix of contemporary music and speech. Its target audience is 15-29 year olds, and it should also provide some programming for younger teenagers”.
Over the years, several hosts on the station have been unceremoniously ejected for the apparently heinous crime of ageing. For example, Judge Jules began his show at the station in 1997 and was given the boot fifteen years later. Numerous other DJs have had much the same experience – and yet one has somehow managed to escape the axe.
A fresh-faced Peter Michael Tong MBE started doing a show called The Essential Selection back in January 1991 at the age of 30 – ironically meaning he was older than the station’s target audience from the beginning. Even though Tong’s slot has moved over the years from 7pm to 10pm UK time, he somehow remains at the youth orientated station to this day – and looks set to celebrate 33 years at Radio 1 in early January.
So how long can he go on at the station – and would he ever consider retirement? A source close to the BBC says “Unless Pete Tong finds himself involved in some kind of big scandal, I just can’t see him being pushed out of the way. He still brings in a loyal audience on Friday nights for the station, and his show does really well on the iPlayer [the BBC’s on-demand service].”
Nonetheless, there are questions over how long the now 63-year-old DJ and businessman will want to continue with his heavy working schedule. In addition to his Radio 1 show – often pre-recorded due to other commitments – he also has numerous business ventures, including the Pete Tong DJ Academy.
A source within the industry claims that Tong has been watching Simon Dunmore closely over the past year or two – the former Defected boss used to work notoriously long hours, but has now left the empire he founded. The source says “Pete isn’t thinking of leaving the stage altogether, but he knows he’s getting older, and he has seen how well Simon is doing now. No one wishes they’d spent more time in the office on their deathbed, do they?”.
Tong’s Ibiza Classics tour continues throughout the winter – suggesting no change is likely at least for now…