From Nippon Broadcasting System to Radio Nippon, The Charm of Getting to Really Know Idols Through Radio, and What Hasn’t Changed Between Then and Now

ニッポン放送からラジオ日本へ アイドルの素顔を届けるラジオの魅力は、今も昔も変わらない
From Nippon Broadcasting System to Radio Nippon, The Charm of Getting to Really Know Idols Through Radio, and What Hasn’t Changed Between Then and Now

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I think there are probably many fans who like the radio programs presented by their favorite idols. There’s a very strong personal element to the design, talking content, and so on with radio programs, and it’s because they let you see an idol’s “true self”. Radio is different from television because there’s no video, and you have to read the speaker’s feeling from their voice instead of their expressions. When you listen to a radio program, you can really get a sense of that person’s interests and personality.

Nowadays, when people talk about idol radio programs, they’re generally talking about Radio Nippon. With the inclusion of internet radio, there are many idol programs out there at the moment, and among them are about 20 programs, including Radio Nippon NEXT, who have been employing idols as radio personalities since before the current idol boom.


The radio programs that employ idols as their main personalities started in 2009 Autumn, with “Kikuchi Ami No 1ami9”. Here’s a list of idol programs that are broadcasted in Radio Nippon and Radio Nippon NEXT.

・Kikuchi Ami No 1ami9 (Ami Kikuchi’s 1ami9)
・9nine Satake Uki No Uchuuwo Kireini Suru Studio (Uki Satake’s Making the Universe Beautiful Studio)
・BABY RAIDS JAPAN Ooya and Takami’s Shaberista!)
・SUPER☆GiRLS Rina Miyazaki’s Nice Miyari!
・Dream5 Mikoto Hibi and Momona Tamakawa Mikotama Broadcasting Station.
・Mai Watanabe and Mariya Nagao’s Tuesday Night
・Takayanagi Akane No Umarete Konokata (Akane TAkayanagi’s Life Until Now)
・X21 Yoshimoto Miyu Colorful Box~2nd Season~
・Akamaru Dash☆ No Tameshini Ippai Meshiagare!!!! (Akamaru Dash☆’s Have a Taste!!!)
・Nakajima Saki no Cute Na Jikan (Saki Nakajima’s Cute Time)
・Morning Musume’16 No Morning Jogakuin~Houkago Meeting~ (Morning Musume ’16’s Morning Girls School~ Afterschool Meeting~)
・Country Girls No Tadaima Radio Housouchuu!! (Country Girl’s Radio Broadcasting Now!!)
and so on

Besides programs that employ idols as their main personalities, there’s also a program called 60 TRYBu, where idols work as assistants. Because of how proactively concerts where various idols appear are linked to these programs and so on, there are a lot of fans who immediately think of Radio Nippon when it comes to idols.

I’ve always liked radio myself, and I often tuned into the programs mentioned above. In the past I dabbled as a postcard man, submitting so-called “stories” or “topics”, and on programs like 9nine Uki Satake no Uchuu wo Kirei ni Suru Radio and Nakajima Saki no Cute na Jikan, they often read these submissions.


Nakajima Saki no Cute na Jikan, which started on January 1, 2012, is going on its fifth year. This is Saki Nakajima’s business card, which was produced on air. I went to see a public recording of the show at Queens Square Yokohama. 2012年1月1日からスタートし、今年で5年目を迎えている『中島早貴のキュートな時間』。番組内で制作された中島早貴の名刺(表面と裏面)。この番組は、クイーンズスクエア横浜での公開録音も見に行った

The 80s and 90s happened to be the golden age of radio. Much like how people talk about television programs, many people used to discuss radio programs with their friends. Naturally there were more than a few idol radio program broadcasts, and at the time there was one station that people associated with idols, much like Radio Nippon today, which was Nippon Broadcasting System.

Especially on Sunday night broadcasts, there was a line-up of idols doing radio personality work, and there were many idol fans that spent their weekends listening to these programs until the end, before going to bed.


Here’s a list of programs I often tuned into between 1986 and 1989. I remember feeling a mixture of happiness and sadness when Noriko Sakai’s first regular program, Tokimeki Pajama MARI・NORI・AKI no Dokkin Time, suddenly changed to Yukiko Okada. 筆者がよく聞いていた1986年度から1989年度までの番組表まとめ。酒井法子の初レギュラー番組『トキメキパジャマ MARI・NORI・AKIのドッキンタイム』は、岡田有希子からの突然のチェンジでうれしいような悲しような複雑な気持ちだったことを思い出しす

This same idol framework remains even today, and from 10:00 p.m. for 30 minutes is always given to idol (talent) personalities. Right now they’re broadcasting Momoiro Clover Z’s MomoClo Club xoxo.

Idol programs I would often listen to at the time on Nippon Broadcasting System were Yoko Minamino Nanno Kore Shikki!, Yui Asaka Sukoshi Otona no Silhouette, and Heart ni “ribbon”. What they all shared in common was that the conversation was always interesting. Each one was fun in a different way, but Nanno’s free conversation approach to answering listeners’ opinions and the like was really amazing. You could really get to know Minamino’s train of thought and her hobbies, and it had a very personal feel to it. Yui Asaka’s had the best reactions to whatever was the plan that day. I really liked her “Itazura Telephone” (“Prank Telephone”) corner. Her Miyazaki accent, which came out from time to time, was adorable and unique, and her humor was by far the most fun. ribbon’s trio had a nice tempo to it, and their characters were very relatable. More than anything, you could see how well they got on together as a group.

Of course there were many idol programs broadcast on stations besides Nippon Broadcasting System, and I would record those on a cassette tape and listen to them on my Walkman. Because I would record over the same tape multiple times, the voices would get distorted when they tape would stretch… Of course I suppose many of you have no idea what I’m talking about.


Here’s a notebook I kept in 1989, with a list of talking points from the radio programs I would often listen to. During those days, not very many idol programs were broadcast on Radio Nippon. 1989年当時の、筆者がよく聞いていたラジオ番組について点数をつけているノート。このころは、ラジオ日本でアイドル番組が放送されることはほとんどなかった

How interesting a radio program was, or its “kamikai”, was the so-called fan psychology for how many times you would listen to a program after saving it. In that same vein, I would personally put them together as my own “Radio Masterpiece Collection”. Now you can easily turn voices into digital data, and cut, copy, and paste bytes and edit them, but back then you had to use a double cassette deck, and editing a tape through dubbing was difficult process.


This my “Radio Masterpiece Collection”, a collection of famous scenes from the radio programs I would often tune into. I no longer have any equipment to play the tape, so I can’t listen to it now… Perhaps the majority of the content on it is ribbon or Yui Asaka. よく聞いていたラジオ番組の名場面を集めた『ラジオけっさく集』。今、このカセットテープを再生できる環境がなく、聞くことはできない……。おそらく、ほとんどがribbonか浅香唯

Also, speaking of radio, something I can’t go without mentioning are the “postcard submissions”. Now you can easily submit stories or topics using e-mail or your web browser, which is more convenient.

In those days you would handwrite your opinion (subject) on a postcard, affix a 40 yen stamp to it (41 yen from 1989), handwrite the addressee’s address on it, and send it by post. Although fax machines were also used during live broadcast programs, it wasn’t really an electronic communication environment, and postcards were most commonly used. As a postcard man, I often sent postcards which were read on idol programs, of course, and others I liked like All Night Nippon, but nevertheless, sending so many of dozens of postcards could really add up. So I was careful to pick what I would write about, and being handwritten, it was important that there weren’t any mistakes, so I would write a draft first. I had to really think about whatever I wanted to write before sending it in.


This is my idea memo pad from when I was a postcard man. It’s interesting to see how serious I was about making edits, like where I would change phrases like “before” to “last week”, and try to emphasize a part using “nanto”. ハガキ職人をしていたころのネタ帳。「この前」という表現をわかりやすく「先週」に直したり、「なんと」という部分を強調してみたりと、きちんと編集しているのが面白い(笑)

I’m drifting off topic a bit, but the tricks to getting your postcard read on an idol program were fairly simple ones. It was good to keep in mind that directors (adults) prefer easy topics. More specifically, doing something like any of the following:
・ Write about something listeners would likely react to
・ Come up with an idol comeback
・ Write about something an idol would be able to embellish
・ Keep it brief without adding anything extra
・ Put it together is something that could be passed along as is

When it came to picking out a postcard, they would pick ones where you could easily read the comment at a glance, or ones that were easiest to handle. It would be necessary to change the topic or writing style depending on the idol, but even now it seems like this method is the same. Like with 9nine Uki Satake no Uchuu wo Kirei ni Suru Radio, Saki Nakajima no Cute na Jikan, or 60TRYBu when Kanon Fukuda was an assistant, all of the submissions are read at the beginning of the program.

The postcard I poured the most effort into as a postcard man was for the program Hisashi Eguchi no NORU SORU, which aired on Tokyo-based FM from April to September in 1989. NORU SORU was a late-night live broadcast that began on FM when All Night Nippon was at the height of its popularity. Its flow was quite different from other programs FM had done up until that time, and on Tuesdays Hisashi Eguchi was in charge, and his assistant was Eriko Tamura.

I made an appearance on a live broadcast of the program as a listener representative. Though I was just a high school student at the time, seeing Eriko Tamura right in front of my eyes like that was the first time I’d ever seen the real side of an idol. It practically impossible to see an idol talking like that, wearing almost no make-up and regular clothing. On top of that I could hardly believe when, during the program, she poured some juice for me into a paper cup, and it made me feel like I could fly.


If your postcard was read on Hisashi Eguchi no NORU SORU, you would receive an original telephone card. (Left) By the way, even in exchanges with Eguchi today, sometimes he talks about stuff from back then. This portrait that he drew for me on his iPad is what I used for my LINE icon. (Right) 『江口寿史のNORU SORU』では、ハガキが読まれるとオリジナルテレフォンカードがもらえた(左)。ちなみに江口さんとは現在でも交流があり、時々当時の話もしたりする。iPadで描いてもらった似顔絵は今のLINEのアイコンだ(右)


The same day I appeared on Hisashi Eguchi no NORU SORU (July 11, 1987 broadcast from 1:00 a.m.), I was interviewed by someone with the radio information magazine Radio Paradise. Eriko Tamura appears on the cover of the September 1989 edition. 『江口寿史のNORU SORU』に出演した当日(1987年7月11日25時~の放送回)、ラジオ情報誌の『ラジオパラダイス』の取材が入っており、インタビューを受けた。田村英里子が表紙の1989年9月号だ

Then, during the middle of a program, I remember calling for a “meet-up at the Shakey’s in Kichojoji!” and for a “Iisteners’ meet-up”, and talking about the program and so on with people that had gathered there. Live broadcasts of radio programs shared some things in common with internet communities today. We could get our hands on the latest information regarding a program personality and through different personalities, and listeners could exchange their thoughts with one another. That you could exchange opinions in real time via fax was something unique to radio.

There was even a fictional idol created from a radio program, called Yui Haga. Created from the program Hikaru Ijuin no All Night Nippon, her hair was styled in a ponytail and her face was never made public. Her complete image was made from suggestions from listeners of the program. The “Yui Haga Project” ended after about a year, but the intense excitement felt from her image being created by listeners felt close to that of internet communities now.


Yui Haga was a fictional idol that created by the radio program Hikaru Ijuin no All Night Nippon. As part of her profile, she was born on April 15, 1974, in Hyogo Prefecture. She made her debut on March 21, 1990, on the “Hoshizora Passport”. 芳賀ゆいはラジオ番組『伊集院光のオールナイトニッポン』から生まれた架空のアイドル。1974年4月15日兵庫県生まれといったプロフィールが作られている。1990年3月21日に『星空のパスポート』でデビューした

Back on the topic of today’s radio, there are many programs who make great use of the internet. The radio and the internet go hand in hand. That’s because since before the era of the internet, you could say that radio was the closest thing to serving its purpose. As services like radiko began to appear, where you could hear live streams of radio broadcasts, it became easier to enjoy listening to the radio. For this reason, it seems like a growing number of younger people are beginning to tune into the radio.

I really hope that more people will discover the splendor of hearing people’s real voices. You can hear people’s real voices through radio or internet radio, of course, but also on TwitCasting. I think it would be even better if idols carved out more personal spaces like these. In addition, I’d like them be to appear on many more radio programs and show everyone their real sides. Then perhaps more users would fall in love with the radio, like I did so long ago.

※ Feature Song: “Honki”
Eriko Tamura

Read the author’s serialization about “idols’ past and present” more

Translated by Jamie Koide

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Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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