Smash Hits

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Smash Hits
Department S - Smash Hits May 1981 magazine cover.jpg
Cover of a 1988 edition of Smash Hits featuring Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan as cover.
CategoriesA4-size music magazine
FrequencyInitially monthly, then fortnightly
First issueSeptember 1978;40 years ago (1978-09);
July 2009 (2009-07) (one-off specials)
Final issueFebruary 13, 2006 (2006-02-13) (final regular issue);
December 2010 (2010-12) (final one-off special)
Company EMAP Metro (original)
Bauer Media Group (one-off specials)
CountryUnited Kingdom
ISSN 0260-3004

Smash Hits was a British pop music magazine aimed at teenagers and young adults, that was originally published by EMAP. It ran from 1978 to 2006 [1] and, after initially appearing monthly, was issued fortnightly during most of that time. The name survived as a brand for a spin-off digital television channel -now named Box Hits - and website. A digital radio station was also available but shut on 5 August 2013.

A fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days. The word derives from the Old English: fēowertyne niht, meaning "fourteen nights".

In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, film, or any narrative work, derived from already existing works that focus on more details and different aspects from the original work.

Smash Hits Radio was a UK-based digital radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio based in Manchester. It was available throughout the UK on Freeview channel 712. The format was loosely based on the now defunct Smash Hits Magazine. It was a Contemporary hit radio format. The station opened in 2002 and continued to play a 'non-stop' music format without presenters or DJs, with only one minute of adverts every half an hour. The station formed part of the Bauer Passion Portfolio. The longest-serving DJ was presenter Natalie Brown, who had been involved from 10 April 2003 until the final day on air.



Smash Hits featured songwords of latest hits and interviews with all the big names in music. It was initially published monthly, then went fortnightly. The style of the magazine was one of irreverence. Its interviewing technique was novel at the time and, rather than looking up to the big names, it often made fun of them, asking strange questions rather than talking about their music. [2] [3]

Created by journalist Nick Logan, the title was launched in 1978 and appeared monthly for its first few months, . He based the idea on a songwords magazine that his sister used to buy, but which was of poor quality. His idea being to launch a glossy-looking magazine which also contained songwords as its mainstay. The publisher was Emap, which was a small-time publisher based in Peterborough and the magazine was originally titled Disco Fever, before they settled on Smash Hits. [4]

Peterborough City and unitary authority in England

Peterborough is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, with a population of 196,640 in 2015. Historically part of Northamptonshire, it is 75 miles (121 km) north of London, on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. The city is also 70 miles (110 km) east of Birmingham, 38 miles (61 km) east of Leicester, 81 miles (130 km) south of Kingston upon Hull and 65 miles (105 km) west of Norwich.

Smash Hits launched the career of many journalists including Radio Times editor Mark Frith. Other well-known writers have included Dave Rimmer, Ian Birch, Mark Ellen (who went on to launch Q , Mojo and Word ), Steve Beebee, Peter Martin, Chris Heath, Sylvia Patterson, Alex Kadis, Sian Pattenden, Tom Hibbert, and Miranda Sawyer. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys also worked as a writer and assistant editor, and once claimed that had he not become a pop star, he would likely have pursued his ambition to become editor.

<i>Radio Times</i> British TV and radio listings magazine

Radio Times is a British weekly magazine which provides radio and television listings. It was the world's first broadcast listings magazine when it was founded in 1923 by John Reith, then general manager of the British Broadcasting Company.

Mark Frith is a British journalist and editor. He has been a writer and editor for magazines such as Smash Hits, Time Out and Heat. He has since branched into TV and radio presenting and is an author of novels.

Dave Rimmer is a music journalist and critic who has written books and articles about a number of pop and rock artists. He wrote for Smash Hits and The Face in the 1980s, and wrote a book about 1980s pop entitled Like Punk Never Happened. His second book Once Upon a Time in the East, is about Eastern Europe under Communism. His third book is about the New Romantic era in 1980s pop, "from the moment Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began their legendary Bowie Nights at Billy's in Soho, through the move to Blitz, and the growth of the Birmingham scene."

The magazine was also available in Continental Europe, especially in Germany where the issues could be bought at train stations or airports, whilst the title was licensed for a French version in the 1990s. There were other licensed versions in the magazine's history. In 1984, an Australian version was created and proved just as successful for that new market as the original had back in Britain, whilst in the United States, a version was published during the 1980s under the title Star Hits , drawing articles from the British version.

It was published by Emap, who also use the name for one of their digital television services, and for a digital radio station. The brand also covered the annual Smash Hits Poll Winners Party , an awards ceremony voted for by readers of the magazine.

Digital television Transmission of audio and video by digitally processed and multiplexed signal

Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television signals, including the sound channel, using digital encoding, in contrast to the earlier television technology, analog television, in which the video and audio are carried by analog signals. It is an innovative advance that represents the first significant evolution in television technology since color television in the 1950s. Digital TV transmits in a new image format called high definition television (HDTV), with greater resolution than analog TV, in a widescreen aspect ratio similar to recent movies in contrast to the narrower screen of analog TV. It makes more economical use of scarce radio spectrum space; it can transmit multiple channels, up to 7, in the same bandwidth occupied by a single channel of analog television, and provides many new features that analog television cannot. A transition from analog to digital broadcasting began around 2006. Different digital television broadcasting standards have been adopted in different parts of the world; below are the more widely used standards:

Digital radio is the use of digital technology to transmit or receive across the radio spectrum. Digital transmission by radio waves includes digital broadcasting, and especially digital audio radio services.

The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party was an awards ceremony which ran from 1988 to 2005. Each award winner was voted by readers of the Smash Hits magazine. It ended with the closure of the magazine in February 2006.

The magazine's sales peaked during the late 1980s. In the early part of the decade it was regularly selling 500,000 copies per issue, which had risen to over one million by 1989. Sales began to drop during the 1990s and by 1996 it was reported that sales were dropping roughly 100,000 per year, currently standing at 245,000. [4] By the time of its demise, it was down to 120,000. [5]

Final years of publishing

In the 1990s, the magazine's circulation slumped and it was overtaken by the BBC's spin off magazine Top of the Pops . Emap's other biweekly teen magazine of the period Big! (which featured more celebrities and stars of TV series including Australians based Home and Away and United States imported Beverly Hills, 90210 ) was closed and this celeb focus was shifted over to Smash Hits, which became less focused on teen pop and more of an entertainment magazine. The magazine also shifted size a number of times in subsequent relaunches including one format that was as big as an album with songwords to be clipped out on the card cover. Television presenter and journalist Kate Thornton was editor for a short time.

In February 2006, it was announced that the magazine would cease publication after the February 13 edition due to declining sales. [6] The digital music video channel, digital radio, and website services still continue.

In July 2009, a one-off commemorative issue of the magazine was published as a tribute to singer Michael Jackson. [7] Further one-off specials were released in November 2009 (Take That) and December 2010 (Lady Gaga). [8]


The publication's Art Editor in the early 1990s was Phil Hawksworth, who guided the transition between traditional artwork to electronic artwork on the Mac, introducing many of the design/content features used until publication ceased in 2007.

Compilation albums

EMAP licensed the brand for a number of compilation albums, including a tie in with the Now That's What I Call Music brand for Now Smash Hits , a retrospective of the early 1980s (80 - 87).

Australian edition

The Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine began in November 1984 as a fortnightly edited by James Manning. The magazine blended some content from the parent publication with locally generated material. Eddy Sarafian, who was later to edit the successful competitor TV Hits for Attic Futura Publications, was also on staff at the time the magazine was founded. Robyn Doreian, later editor of Attic Futura's Hot Metal was graphic designer for Smash Hits and in the early 1990s Lisa Anthony, formerly editor of Attic Futura's Hit Songwords, would become Smash Hits' editor for a brief period. Australian Smash Hits was originally published by Fairfax Magazines and was later purchased by Mason Stewart Publications. Over the years it became a monthly and then a bi-monthly. In 2007 the magazine retailed for A$5.95 Inc. GST and NZ$6.50. On 30 March 2007 it was announced that the Australian edition would cease publication due to low readership. [9] The editor at that time was Emma Bradshaw. The issue that was scheduled to be released on 9 May 2007 was cancelled.

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  1. Di Hand; Steve Middleditch (10 July 2014). Design for Media: A Handbook for Students and Professionals in Journalism, PR, and Advertising. Routledge. p. 8. ISBN   978-1-317-86402-8 . Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  2. Simpson, Dave (6 August 2018). "How we made Smash Hits magazine". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. "12 reasons Smash Hits was the best music magazine ever". Metro. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Can 'Smash Hits' survive the end of Take That?". The Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  5. "Smash Hits magazine closing down". 2 February 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  6. "Smash Hits magazine closing down". BBC News. 2 February 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  7. Smash Hits resurrected for Jackson, Yahoo News , Retrieved 4 July 2009
  8. Smash Hits returns for GaGa special Music Week.
  9. Emap - Emap shuts Smash Hits after 23 years Archived 14 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine