/// Important dates for UK radio broadcasting
Directory Jobs Opinion News Discussion Data Twitter
We're now called media.info
Discussions and articles are still here for now, but most of the directory and all our jobs are now over at media.info. You're welcome to join us there.

Important dates for UK radio broadcasting

A timeline to some of the biggest events in UK radio history

  • 1922: 2LO opened by Marconi in May.
  • 1922: 14 Nov: BBC start daily broadcasting on 2LO. The first voice was Arthur Burrows, reading the news. The BBC was funded by radio set manufacturers.
  • 1922: 15 Nov: 5IT (Birmingham) and 2ZY (Manchester) become first BBC stations outside London. Further stations in 1922 and 1923 were 5NO, Newcastle; 5WA, Cardiff, 5SC, Glasgow, and in 1924 2BE Belfast started broadcasting.
  • 1924: "Pips" (Greenwich Time Signal) first broadcast on 5 Feb
  • 1927: 5SW Chelmsford first started broadcasting shortwave broadcasts to Europe.
  • 1930: "National Programme" replaces 2LO. The "Regional Programme", an alternative service, started later this year.
  • 1933: Radio Luxembourg commences broadcasting
  • 1939: "Home Service" created in September by a merger of the National and Regional Programmes.
  • 1940: "Forces Programme" launched as a seperate light entertainment programme for servicemen.
  • 1945: Forces Programme renamed as "Light Programme" for peacetime.
  • 1946: "Third Programme" launched in September
  • 1955: The BBC launches its VHF (FM) transmitter network
  • 1957: "Network 3" launched as daytime service of the Third Programme.
  • 1964: "Radio Caroline" commences broadcasting on 29th March. Simon Dee was the first voice heard.
  • 1966: Radio City, the first hospital radio station in Wales, opens
  • 1967: Marine etc Broadcasting Offences Act became law, as effort by the government to regulate broadcasting.
  • 1967: On 30th September, BBC radio reorganisation launched Radio 1,2,3 and 4. "Radio 1" was formed after the demand for pirate radio - the first record broadcast (by Tony Blackburn) was "Flowers in the Rain" by The Move, although limitations on needletime and funds meant it only broadcast for 5 hours 35 minutes on its first day. "Radio 2" was the change of name for The Light Programme, "Radio 3" was formed from the Third Programme and various strands from Network 3, and the Home service renamed "Radio 4".
  • 1967: BBC Radio Leicester begins broadcasting on 8th November - the first BBC local radio station.
  • 1970: Network 3 fully absorbed into Radio 3 and Radio 4.
  • 1970: In Sep - Dec, eight more BBC local radio stations begin broadcasting, after the Leicester experiment (1967) is hailed a success.
  • 1972: Sound Broadcasting Act allowed for the start of Independent Local Radio (ILR), commercially funded, regulated by the new Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)
  • 1973: Radio 1 Roadshow launched by Alan Freeman.
  • 1973: Birth of commercial radio, (originally known as 'independent' radio after its independence from the BBC). LBC was first, joined by Capital Radio a week later, both in London. Read this account of LBC's first day.
  • 1974: Radio 1 launches 'Newsbeat'.
  • 1988: Radio 1 launched on FM
  • 1988: First commercial station 'splits' frequencies (broadcasting different stations on FM and AM frequencies). First to do it permanently was CountySound.
  • 1989: 'Incremental' commercial radio stations launched in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Bradford as alternative services. While the term 'incremental' is now no longer used, these stations were mainly aimed at ethnic minorities in particular areas - broadcasting black dance music, or asian music to widen listener choice.
  • 1990: Independent Broadcasting Authority (the commercial radio and television authority) splits into the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority, with the Broadcasting Act allowing more deregulation in the industry
  • 1990: Radio 5 begins broadcasting on 9am Monday 27 August. First record (played by Bruno Brookes) was "Thunderbirds are Go" by MC Parker. It later re-launched as Radio 5-Live, a rolling news and sport station.
  • 1991: Radio 1 goes permanently 24 hours on 1 May. (It had been 24 hours before, most notably during the Gulf War).
  • 1992: Launch of Classic FM, first national commercial radio station, on 7th September. The first commercial station to play anything other than 24-hour pop music, the rapid growth of advertising on commercial radio is attributed to Classic FM.
  • 1992: Launch of RAJAR, a body jointly funded by commercial radio and the BBC, giving industry-approved listening figures for all subscribing UK radio services
  • 1992: Launch of RAB, the Radio Advertising Bureau
  • 1993: Launch of Virgin 1215, now Virgin Radio, on April 30th
  • 1994: Radio 1 leaves AM frequencies for new commercial station
  • 1995: Talk Radio UK begins broadcasting on February 14th (now "TalkSport")
  • 1996: Broadcasting Act removed the ceiling of 35 licences which could be owned by any one company, introducing an overall limit 15% of total points; allowed newspapers to own local stations in their local areas subject to a public interest test; created the foundations for digital radio development
  • 1997: Radio Authority launches Sallies, small scale local licences for smaller communities.
  • 1999: Digital One, the first national commercial digital radio multiplex launched
  • 2002: The BBC launch two new digital-only radio stations: BBC 6 Music, BBC 1Xtra
  • 2002: Community radio (access radio) pilot scheme began
  • 2003: Communications Act brings Ofcom into being, abolishing the Radio Authority (among others); ownership restrictions further liberalised to allow a minimum of 2 + the BBC owners in any individual local market; new obligation on the regulator to protect localness; provision made for community radio
  • 2003: The BBC launches a further digital-only station: BBC7.

    Credits: Media UK, Tim Havenhand, "Jo", Allan McKellar, Ofcom.
  • Comments

    Recommendations: 0
    posted

    2006 first community licenses start broadcasting (Forest of Dean the first one)

    What about the absolute radio digital brands

    Add your comment in seconds

    Use a social media account you already have to log in. More info

    If you're not on social media, register for a limited-use Media UK account.
    By logging in, you are consenting to a cookie that personally identifies you to us. Here's more about our cookies.

    Log inWelcome! 

    Get new articles daily

    We can send you new articles, news, jobs and discussions every day into your inbox.