|Founded||18 October 1922|
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.
Of the national radio stations, BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live are all available through analogue radio (AM or FM) as well as on DAB Digital Radio and BBC Sounds. BBC Radio 1Xtra, 4 Extra, 5 Live Sports Extra and 6 Music, Asian Network and World Service broadcast only on DAB and BBC Sounds, while BBC Radio 1 Dance and BBC Radio 1 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 autobiography, Broadcast Over Britain (1924), 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 commercial broadcasting available from inside the UK, a former British Royal Air Force captain and entrepreneur (and from 1935 Conservative Party member of parliament) named Leonard F. 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; only Radio Luxembourg continued 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 but is now known as the BBC World Service.
Beginning in March 1964, Radio Caroline was the first in what became an eventual fleet of 10 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 operations, 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 from record a week, as opposed to the pirates who broadcast chart music and new releases all day.
The British government reacted by passing the Marine Offences Act, which all but wiped out all of the stations by midnight on 14 August 1967, by banning any British citizen from working for a pirate station. Only Radio Caroline survived, and still continues today (though the last original offshore broadcast was in 1989).
One of the stations called Radio London ("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 of the BBC output creating the four analogue channels that still form the basis of its broadcasting today. The creator of BBC Radio One 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 BBC Radio One morning show had previously presented the same morning show on Radio Caroline and later on Big L. He attempted to duplicate the same sound for BBC Radio One. Among the other DJs hired was the late John Peel who had presented the overnight show on "Big L", called The Perfumed Garden. Though it only ran for a few months prior to Big L's closure, The Perfumed Garden got more fan mail than the rest of the pop DJ's on Radio London put together, 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, Big L's PAMS jingles were commissioned to be resung 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 have since been renamed to include the BBC Radio brand, to BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio 6 Music, and BBC Radio 7. In 2011, BBC Radio 7 was renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra as the service was brought more into line with BBC Radio 4.
The BBC today runs national domestic radio stations, five of which are available in an analogue format (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:||The 1 for...|
|Slogan:||The 1 for Dance...|
|Slogan:||The 1 for Chill...|
|Slogan:||We do this for the culture|
|Slogan:||On the BBC Sounds app, on your smart speaker, and on 88–91 FM|
|Slogan:||The best in comedy, drama and entertainment|
|Slogan:||The voice of the UK or On digital, BBC Sounds, smart speaker and online, this is BBC Radio 5 Live|
|Slogan:||More live sport. Pure live sport. Live cricket from the Test Match Special team, football commentary, Formula 1, rugby union, rugby league, baseball, NFL American Football, tennis...|
|Slogan:||Celebrating the alternative spirit of music and culture|
|Slogan:||Celebrating British Asian life, culture and music|
The BBC also runs radio stations for the three national regions: 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 century. 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.
There are many BBC Local Radio services across England (and the Channel Islands), often catering to individual counties. They operate in local regions such as Greater London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and the West Midlands.
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 sets in the UK, and archived programs are available for 7 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|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BBC Radio.|