Bob Harris’ broadcasting career began in 1970 on BBC Radio 1, where he hosted the first incarnation of Sounds of the Seventies. He then went on to present shows for Radio 210 and Radio Luxembourg, as well as his famous The Old Grey Whistle Test show on BBC 2. Bob’s explanation for the title was that any song that could be remembered and whistled after just one or two hearings, had passed the ‘old grey whistle test’.
The 1980s saw him present on BBC Radio Oxford, London’s LBC Radio Station, GWR, Norwich’s Radio Broadland, Hereward FM and UK Independent station The Superstation. He covered everything from weekday afternoon shows to late night and early morning weekend slots, as well as half-hour music reviews and nightly phone-ins. He rejoined BBC Radio 1 as a stand-in presenter in 1989 before being given his own show. He stayed until 1993 where he moved to BBC Radio London.
In 1997 he would moved to BBC Radio 2 where he has continued to this day (as of June 2022), fronting famous shows such as Bob Harris Country. Alongside this, he would present on BBC Radio 6 Music and on Boom Radio. In 2022 he announced he would be returning to the much-loved show Sounds of the 70s, after almost 50 years away, sitting in for fellow presenter Johnnie Walker when needed.
Bob’s unbridled passion and commitment to country music (and its sub-genres) has gained him the recognition of the Country Music Association, who honoured him with the International Broadcaster of the Year award twice as well as the prestigious Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award.
Amongst his many other awards are the Radio Academy/PRS Award for his outstanding contribution to music radio, a Gold Badge of Merit from BACS, three Sony bronze awards for music broadcaster of the year and music programme of the year, and he was voted 9th in a poll in the Radio Times of ‘The Voices We Love The Most’. He was inducted into the UK Radio hall of fame in 2009, received an OBE in 2011 for services to music broadcasting, and won the Trailblazer Award from the Americana Music Association the same year.
IN THE MEDIA
Bob has contributed his knowledge to a number of newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mail, the Oxford Times, the Mirror and Total TV Guide. He also released his autobiography The Whispering Years in 2001, with the follow up Still Whispering After All These Years coming out in 2015. The latter went on to spend more than two months atop the Amazon Music Book Chart. As a founding co-director of Time Out magazine, compiler of two rock reference books and his through three decades for the British music press, Bob is an acknowledged author and archivist.
Not only known for his radio programmes, Bob is also a record producer and has done rock tours alongside the likes of Queen and David Bowie, has voiced TV and radio documentaries, major advertisement campaigns and made cameo appearances in a number of movies.
Alongside his wife, Bob founded the Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company, and independent radio production house, making documentaries for Radio 2 including When John Met Paul with Paul McCartney and The Sandy Denny Story, both winners of Sony Silver Awards, and Bob Harris: My Nashville for SkyArts.
Bob has appeared on international panels at the Americana Music Awards, was a keynote speaker at NXNE (Canada’s most prestigious music festival), has presented the C2C: Country to Country festival live from The O2 Arena every year since its inception in 2013, participated in ‘An Evening With…Bob Harris OBE’ in 2021 for Pizza Express Live, hosted the celebration for what would have been Buddy Holly’s 85th birthday in 2022 and founded his own festival, Under the Apple Tree in 2016.
– Music Broadcasting
– British Contemporary Music Broadcasting
– Media and Television
– Country Music
His depth of understanding of popular music – its origins and influences – is immense. As a voice on the radio – reassuring, knowledgeable and enthusiastic – he is one of a kind.