is a service of the British
which has operated in the United Kingdom
under the terms of a Royal
since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927
see British Broadcasting
1 to 7 are based in London, but
programmes are also made in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.
All BBC Radio channels are available on DAB radio and also on the
internet in Real Media and WMA streams – #See_also
The BBC today runs ten national domestic radio stations, four of
which are only available in a digital format: via DAB Digital Radio
, UK digital
television (satellite, cable and Freeview
) plus live streams and
on the Internet
The "main" radio stations, available via both analogue (FM
and Digital Audio
- BBC Radio 1: youth oriented, mostly
contemporary pop and rock music (including Top 40 singles), plus news,
original in-house live music sessions, original live music concerts
& music documentaries.
- BBC Radio 2: adult oriented
entertainment, wide range of music—specially adult contemporary and middle of the road, also talk,
comedy, plus news, original in-house live music sessions, original
live music concerts & music documentaries.
- BBC Radio 3: arts and high culture, special-interest music (classical, jazz, world music), plus
news, original in-house live music sessions, original live music
concerts & music documentaries.
- BBC Radio 4: news, current affairs,
arts, history, original in-house drama, original in-house first-run
comedy, science, books and religion.
- BBC Radio 5 Live: news, sports,
The new digital-only (Internet Streaming/Sky
) radio stations are:
- BBC 1Xtra: new urban music, plus news, original in-house live
music sessions, original live music concerts & music
- BBC Radio 5 Live
Sports Extra: a companion to Radio 5 Live for additional sports
- BBC 6 Music: rock, funk, punk and
reggae, plus news, original in-house live music sessions, original
live music concerts & music documentaries.
- BBC Radio 7: classic comedy, drama,
books, science fiction, fantasy and children's programmes.
- BBC Asian
Network: aimed at the large South
Asian community in the UK (primarily a digital radio station, but
available in parts of the Midlands on mediumwave).
The BBC also runs radio stations for three of the nations of the
UK. These stations focus on local issues to a greater extent than
their UK 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 many advertising-funded
Independent Local Radio
stations, which often broadcast contemporary popular music, BBC
nations' radio stations offer a more "serious" alternative.
- BBC Radio
Scotland: News, music, sport and talk from Scotland.
- BBC Radio nan
Gàidheal: Scottish Gaelic
- BBC Radio
Shetland: News, music, sport and talk from Shetland.
- BBC Radio
Orkney: News, music, sport and talk from Orkney.
- BBC Radio
Wales: News, music, sport and talk from Wales.
- BBC Radio Cymru: Welsh language network.
- BBC Radio
Ulster: News, music, sport and talk from Northern
- BBC Radio
Foyle: News, music, sport and talk from north-west of Northern
There exist many BBC Local Radio
services across England, often catering to individual counties
BBC Radio services are broadcast on various FM
streaming live on BBC Online
stations a worldwide audience).
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; a number of trials are also underway of MP3
downloads and podcasting
selected shows—see bbc.co.uk#Streaming media
Throughout its history the BBC
has produced many
programmes, and a complete list of all programmes will be available
here soon. In the meantime, some particularly significant,
influential, popular or long lasting programmes include:
For more BBC radio programmes see :Category:BBC radio
History of BBC Radio
The BBC radio services began in 1922. It was licensed by the
British Government 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 and this is still reflected in the title of the BBC's
listings magazine called 'Radio
On 31 December 1926 the British Broadcasting Company became the
and gained control of the airwaves under the terms
of a Royal Charter
. John Reith
, who had been the founding Managing
Director of the commercial company, became the first director. He
expounded firm principles of centralised, all-encompassing radio
broadcasting, stressing programming standards and moral tone. These
are 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". Critics of his approach state that he was dictatorial
and that he imposed a theocratic viewpoint on the broadcasting
service. Reith's ideals were utterly at odds with the model of
light entertainment based commercial radio adopted in some other
countries (e.g. the USA).
Competition from overseas stations
Although no other broadcasting organisation was licensed in the UK
until 1973, commercial competition soon opened up from overseas.
The commercial competitors were for the most part represented by
that bought blocks of airtime from radio
stations such as Normandy
Ljubljana, Juan les Pins, Paris, Poste Parisien, Athlone,
Barcelona, Madrid and Rome. In the period from 1927 to 1939, light
entertainment on the British airwaves was for the most part the
domain of the 10 part-time English language IBC stations. By 1938
on Sundays upwards of 80% of the British audience turned their
dials away from the BBC to these IBC stations which followed an
American format of commercial broadcasting. They were eventually
silenced by the advent of the German
military taking control of their transmitters in France, Luxembourg and other countries during World War II.
American Armed Forces influence
The respite from American influence on British broadcasting was
short lived. When the US military flooded Europe with troops during
World War II, American-style programming followed and the BBC was
forced to transmit these shows, first on the BBC Forces Programme
and later on the
BBC General Forces
, both on the former frequencies of the BBC National Programme
. After the war
the BBC Forces transmitters that had carried these shows were
transformed into a network called the BBC Light Programme
The original BBC stations which had been linked together to form
the BBC Regional Programme
were transformed into the BBC Home
. A third part-time service was created under the name
of the BBC Third Programme
the history of these stations see Timeline of the BBC
Empire and the world
To provide a different service from the domestic audience the
Corporation started BBC Empire
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 The Overseas Service
now known as the BBC World
Commercial radio influence
WWII silenced all but one of the original IBC stations, only
continued its nightly transmissions to Britain as a commercial
radio station featuring American-style entertainment and
Beginning in 1964 the first in what became a fleet of 10 offshore
stations began to ring
the British coastline. By 1967 millions were tuning into these
commercial operations and the BBC was rapidly losing its radio
The British Government reacted by imposing the "Marine Offences Act
", a law which all
but wiped out all of the stations by midnight on 14 August 1967.
Only Radio Caroline
One of the stations called Wonderful 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
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. Tony
who presented the very first BBC Radio One morning
show had previously presented the same morning show on Radio Caroline
and 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. Big L's PAMS jingles were commissioned to be resung in Dallas, Texas so that
"Wonderful Radio London" became "Wonderful Radio One
BBC analogue networks
BBC Radio 1
was launched as a part-time
station 30 September 1967. The
BBC Light Programme
and broadcast easy listening,
folk, jazz and light entertainment. The BBC Third Programme
was merged to form Radio 3
and the BBC
became Radio 4
BBC Radio 5
was launched on 27
August 1990 as a home for sport and children's programming, and was
replaced and renamed on 28 March 1994 with BBC Radio Five Live
, a dedicated news
and sport network.
2002 Digital radio networks
With the increased rollout of Digital Audio
(DAB) between 1995 and 2002, BBC Radio launched
several new digital-only stations 1Xtra
and BBC 7
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
national DAB network on 28 October 2002. For some time the majority
of listeners used Freeview
, digital satellite and
digital cable services to listen to these networks.
Directors of BBC Radio
Note: the official title of this post has changed over the years.
The most recent was in 2006 when it became "Director of Audio and
Music" to reflect the BBC's online audio services.