BBC Radio is an operational business division and service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a royal charter since 1927). The service provides national radio stations covering the majority of musical genres, as well as local radio stations covering local news, affairs and interests. It also oversees online audio content.
|Founded||18 October 1922|
Of the national radio stations, BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live are all available through analogue radio (AM or FM (with BBC Radio 4 LW on longwave) as well as on DAB Digital Radio and BBC Sounds. The Asian Network broadcasts on DAB and selected AM frequencies in the English Midlands. BBC Radio 1Xtra, 4 Extra, 5 Sports Extra, 6 Music and the World Service broadcast only on DAB and BBC Sounds, while Radio 1 Dance and Relax streams are available only online.
All of the BBC's national radio stations broadcast from bases in London and Manchester, usually in or near to Broadcasting House or MediaCityUK. However, the BBC's network production units located in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow also make radio programmes.
The BBC's radio services began in 1922. The British Government licensed the BBC through its General Post Office, which had original control of the airwaves because they had been interpreted under law as an extension of the Post Office services. Today radio broadcasting still makes up a large part of the corporation's output – the title of the BBC's listings magazine, Radio Times, reflects this.
John Reith, who had been the founding managing director of the commercial company, became the first Director-General. He expounded firm principles of centralised, all-encompassing radio broadcasting, stressing programming standards and moral tone. These he set out in his 1924 autobiography, Broadcast Over Britain, influencing modern ideas of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom. To this day, the BBC aims to follow the Reithian directive to "inform, educate and entertain".
Although no other broadcasting organisation was licensed in the UK until 1973, commercial competition soon opened up from overseas. The English language service of Radio Luxembourg began in 1933 as one of the earliest commercial radio stations broadcasting to Britain and Ireland. With no possibility of domestic commercial broadcasting in the UK, a former British Royal Air Force captain and entrepreneur (and from 1935 Conservative Party MP) named Leonard Plugge set up his own International Broadcasting Company in 1931. The IBC began leasing time on transmitters in continental Europe and then reselling it as sponsored English-language programming aimed at audiences in Britain and Ireland. Because Plugge successfully demonstrated that state monopolies such as that of the BBC could be broken, other parties became attracted to the idea of creating a new commercial radio station specifically for this purpose. It was an important forerunner of pirate radio and modern commercial radio in the United Kingdom. The onset of World War II silenced all but one of the original IBC stations, with only Radio Luxembourg continuing its nightly transmissions to Britain.
To provide a different service from the domestic audience the Corporation started the BBC Empire Service on short wave in 1932, originally in English but it soon provided programmes in other languages. At the start of the Second World War it was renamed The Overseas Service and is now known as the BBC World Service.
Beginning in March 1964, Radio Caroline became the first of what would become ten offshore pirate radio stations that began to ring the British coastline, mostly along the south-east coast. By 1966 millions were tuning into these commercial stations, and the BBC was rapidly losing its radio listening audience. This was largely due to the fact that even though they were fully aware of the problem, the BBC still only played a few hours of pop music records a week, as opposed to the pirates which broadcast chart music and new releases every day.
The British government reacted by passing the Marine Offences Act, which virtually wiped out all of the pirate stations at midnight on 14 August 1967, by banning any British citizen from working for a pirate station. Only Radio Caroline survived, and continues to broadcast today, though the last original offshore broadcast was in 1989.
One of the stations, Radio London (also known as "Big L"), was so successful that the BBC was told to copy it as best they could. This led to a complete overhaul by Frank Gillard, the BBC's director of radio output, creating the four analogue channels that still form the basis of its broadcasting today. The creator of Radio 1 told the press that his family had been fans of Radio London.
The BBC hired many out-of-work broadcasting staff who had come from the former offshore stations. Kenny Everett was asked for input in how to run the new pop station due to his popularity with both listeners and fellow presenters. Tony Blackburn, who presented the very first Radio 1 Breakfast show, had previously presented the morning show on Radio Caroline and later on Radio London. He attempted to duplicate the same sound for Radio 1. Among the other DJs hired was John Peel, who had presented the overnight show on Radio London, called The Perfumed Garden. Though it only ran for a few months prior to Radio London's closure, The Perfumed Garden got more fan mail than the rest of the pop DJs on Radio London combined, so much that staff wondered what to do with it all. The reason it got so much mail was that it played different music and was the beginning of the "album rock" genre. On Everett's suggestion, Radio London's PAMS jingles were commissioned to be re-recorded in Dallas, Texas, so that "Wonderful Radio London" became "Wonderful Radio One on BBC".
The BBC's more popular stations have encountered pressure from the commercial sector. John Myers, who had developed commercial brands such as Century Radio and Real Radio, was asked in the first quarter of 2011 to conduct a review into the efficiencies of Radios 1, 2, 1Xtra and 6 Music. His role, according to Andrew Harrison, the chief executive of RadioCentre, was "to identify both areas of best practice and possible savings."
On 30 September 1967:
With the increased rollout of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) between 1995 and 2002, BBC Radio launched several new digital-only stations BBC 1Xtra, BBC 6 Music and BBC 7 in 2002 on 16 August, 11 March and 15 December respectively – the first for "new black British music", the second as a source of performance-based "alternative" music, the latter specialising in archive classic comedy shows, drama and children's programmes. BBC Asian Network joined the national DAB network on 28 October 2002. The stations had "Radio" added to their names in 2008. In 2011, BBC Radio 7 was renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra and the service was more closely aligned with Radio 4.
The BBC today runs national domestic radio stations, six of which are available in analogue formats (via FM or AM), while other have a purely digital format – they can be received via DAB Digital Radio, UK digital television (satellite, cable and Freeview) plus live streams and listen again on BBC Sounds. The current stations are:
|Slogan:||We are the 1|
|Slogan:||The 1 for Dance|
|Slogan:||The 1 for Chill|
|Slogan:||Amplifying Black Music and Culture|
|Slogan:||The World's biggest stars on the UK's most listened to radio station / This is Radio 2, on the BBC Sounds app, on your smart speaker and on 88 to 91 FM (intro to the news bulletins)|
|Slogan:||Classical, Jazz, World Music, Drama, Documentaries, Features… and light in the Darkness|
|Slogan:||Your Audio Friend – Documentaries, News, Comedy and Drama|
|Slogan:||Comedy, Drama and more from BBC Radio 4|
|Slogan:||The voice of the UK|
|Slogan:||More live sport. Pure live sport.|
|Slogan:||The best music beyond the mainstream|
|Slogan:||Celebrating British Asian life, culture and music|
The BBC also operates radio stations for three UK nations: Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. These stations focus on local issues to a greater extent than their UK-wide counterparts, organising live phone-in debates about these issues, as well as lighter talk shows with music from different decades of the 20th and 21st centuries. Compared to the majority of the UK's commercially funded radio stations, which generally broadcast little beyond contemporary popular music, the BBC's "national regional" stations offer a more diverse range of programming.
BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays. It is politically independent (by mandate of the Agreement providing details of the topics outlined in the BBC Charter), non-profit, and commercial-free. The English language service had always had a UK listenership on LW and therefore DAB Services allowed, by this popular demand, it to be now available 24/7 for this audience in better quality reception.
|Slogan:||The World's Radio Station|
They are also available on digital television in the UK, and archived programs are available for seven days after broadcast on the BBC website; many shows are available as podcasts.
The BBC also syndicates radio and podcast content to radio stations and other broadcasting services around the globe, through its BBC Radio International business, which is part of BBC Studios. Programmes regularly syndicated by BBC Radio International include: In Concert (live rock music recordings from BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2, including an archive dating back to 1971); interviews, live sessions and music shows; classical music (including performances from the BBC Proms); spoken word (music documentaries, dramas, readings, features and comedies, mainly from BBC Radio 4) and channels, including BBC Radio 1.
BBC Radio International also provides many services internationally including in-flight entertainment, subscription, and satellite services. BBC Radio International is partnered with Sirius Satellite Radio and British Airways as well as many other local radio stations.
Throughout its history the BBC has produced many radio programmes. Particularly significant, influential, popular or long-lasting programmes include:
The following expenditure figures are from 2012/13 and show the expenditure of each service they are obliged to provide:
|Service||2012/13 Total Cost
|Comparison with |
|BBC Radio 1||54.2||+ 3.6|
|BBC Radio 1Xtra||11.8||+ 0.7|
|BBC Radio 2||62.1||+ 1.6|
|BBC Radio 3||54.3||+ 1.8|
|BBC Radio 4||122.1||+ 6.2|
|BBC Radio 4 Extra||7.2||– 1|
|BBC Radio 5 Live||76||+ 6.7|
|BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra||5.6||+ 0.3|
|BBC Radio 6 Music||11.5||– 0.2|
|BBC Asian Network||13||0|
|BBC Local Radio||152.5||+ 6|
|BBC Radio Scotland||32.7||+ 0.6|
|BBC Radio nan Gàidheal||6.3||+ 0.3|
|BBC Radio Wales||18.8||+ 1.1|
|BBC Radio Cymru||17.6||+ 1.7|
|BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle||23.8||0|