BBC Local Radio


The popularity of pirate radio was to challenge a change within the (then) very 'stiff' and blinkered management at the BBC. The most prominent concession by the BBC was the creation of BBC Radio 1; to satisfy the ever-demanding new youth culture with their thirst for new, popular music. The other, however, was the fact that these pirate radio stations were, in some cases, local. As a result, BBC Local Radio began as an experiment.

Initially, stations had to be co-funded by the BBC and local authorities, which only some Labour-controlled areas proved willing to do. Radio Leicester was the first to launch on 8 November 1967, followed by Leeds, Stoke, Durham, Sheffield, Merseyside, Brighton, and Nottingham. By the early 1970s, the local authority funding requirement was dropped, and stations spread across the country; many city-based stations later expand their remit to cover an entire county. [2]

There were eight stations in the initial 'experiment', which lasted for two years. When this finally finished, it was deemed so successful that all of the stations, except BBC Radio Durham, remained on air. In addition to this, more followed in 1970; BBC Radio Birmingham, Bristol, Blackburn, Derby, Humberside, London, Manchester, Medway, Newcastle (replacing BBC Radio Durham), Oxford, Solent, and Teesside. [3]

Despite the success of this, the original stations were seen as flawed, as they originally only broadcast on the FM waveband, and not on the more widely available AM waveband. This was eventually rectified a few years after the creation of these new channels. [3]

From 1973, Independent Local Radio (ILR) launched nationally; with nineteen stations, and more to follow in subsequent years. As a result, many of the BBC Local Radio stations found themselves in direct competition with commercial competitors; who utilised the popular ' DJs' from the pirate radio stations, and who gained in most cases, large audiences. Despite this, BBC Local Radio continued to flourish, with the majority of the current network in place by 1990. The network has remained in its current state since. [4]

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