Japan’s First Late Night Radio Broadcasts

Late night radio in Japan has its beginnings on Radio Tokyo, or Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) as it’s now known.

Radio Tokyo began their late night broadcasts on April 1, 1952, which was almost a full year since the establishment of the network and four months after the establishment of their radio department. These broadcasts were English-language programs for US military personnel occupying Japan at the time. However, information on how long these broadcasts were aired every night, what time of the night these aired, or how long Radio Tokyo carried English language programming during the early 1950s seems to be scant.

In 1959, Japan’s first all-night (i.e. past midnight) Japanese-language radio broadcast came courtesy of Nippon Cultural Broadcasting when their Midnight Request Corner show debuted to the public. In 1965, DJ and future TV announcer Masaru Doi (1940-1999) took the helm of this show and became its most familiar voice. Many 1960s-era Japanese pop singers got their start thanks to Midnight Request Corner.

In the fall of 1966, one of the most popular late-night radio shows, Asahi Broadcast Corporation’s (ABC) ABC Young Request (ABCヤングリクエスト) hit the airwaves.  Also popularly nicknamed “Yanriku” (ヤンリク), ABC Young Request was primarily aimed at young people. The show was a music request show and contest-type program where listeners could send in postcards and win prizes in a raffle plus call in and vote on live performances. And of course, listeners could call in and request a song! Initially the show aired from 11 pm-2 am, but it was extended an extra hour to 3 am in 1983. A year later, it was extended yet another hour from 10 pm-3 am.

ABC Young Request had a twenty year run from 1966-1986 and its successor show was on the air from 1991-2012. It opened the door for ABC to become one of the top late-night radio networks in Japan and to this day their programming remains on the air throughout the night.

Japan’s longest-running and most popular late-night radio program is without a doubt All-Night Nippon, which premiered in October of 1967. That show remains on the air to this very day and for more information about it, have a look at its Late Night Milestone entry here: All Night Nippon.


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