The time when Radio 1 broadcasters were vetted by a branch of M15 is over. Few listeners believe that the ideal DJs are “‘husband substitutes’, jolly chaps who would keep the little woman at home entertained”. Nightingale herself has lost none of her gusto. She’s still an evangelist for nocturnal radio: in the witching hours, DJs are more likely to be untethered from daytime playlists and to be given free rein. They can establish greater intimacy. “People maybe don’t realise how much fun you can have when the bosses aren’t listening,” she writes. She could “read out messages like: ‘Shout out to Gaz – hurry up and get round to ours, mate, we’ve run out of Rizlas.’”
The chapter about the legendary Nightingale Request Show, which ran for many years on Sunday at 7pm, is one of the best. The listeners made strenuous attempts to persuade her to play their requests, sending in their song choices on rolls of fake parchment or banana skins, cutting out letters to make it look like a ransom note, or writing their request backwards so it could be read only in a mirror. The show ended in 1994 but she still gets tweets from people who have kept their cassette tapes of those broadcasts. One of the problems with Hey Hi Hello is that Annie simply refuses to spill the beans.