History of BBC Radio (1920-1930)

The BBC brings radio to the masses

March 9, 1930: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) replaces most of its experimental stations with the BBC National Programme (broadcast from what was 5XX Daventry) and the BBC Regional Programme, with broadcasts from London and the Midlands.

More BBC Firsts

  • October 22, 1930 at 8.00pm on the BBC National Programme – First broadcast by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
  • July 22, 1931 at 8.00pm on the BBC National Programme – First broadcast of the BBC Theatre Orchestra.
  • July 22, 1931 at 7.45pm on the BBC National Programme – First broadcast of the BBC Chamber Orchestra. Their first broadcast on the BBC Regional Programme was on December 18, 1931 at 9.00pm.
  • March 12, 1932 – First broadcast from BBC Broadcasting House.
  • July 28, 1933 – First female radio announcer, Sheila Barrett.
  • November 29, 1933 at 10.45am – Radio covers its first Royal Wedding, the Duke of Kent to Princess Marina.
  • January 20, 1936 – Death of HM King George V announced by John Reith.
  • December 11, 1936 – King Edward VIII’s abdication broadcast from Windsor Castle, announced by John Reith.
  • August 23, 1939 – First edition of London Calling published. This monthly magazine contained programme listings for the BBC World Service. The title alludes to the BBC World Service’s station identification: “This is London calling …”, which was used during World War II, often in broadcasts to occupied countries.
  • June 30, 1938 – John Reith leaves the BBC.
John Reith (1889-1971)

BBC Radio during the war

  • September 3, 1939 – Broadcasts by Neville Chamberlain and George VI on the declaration of war.
  • October 1, 1939 – First wartime broadcast by Winston Churchill.
  • January 7, 1940 – The BBC Forces Programme begins broadcasting. The first mention in the Radio Times is February 18, 1940 at 11.00am.
  • May 19, 1940 – Churchill’s first broadcast as Prime Minister.
  • September 4, 1940 – The BBC Home Service begins broadcasting.
  • October 15, 1940 – Bomb explodes in Broadcasting House during 9pm news, killing seven staff.
  • December 8, 1940 – Broadcasting House badly damaged by a landmine.
  • May 10, 1941 – The Queen’s Hall is destroyed during an air raid.
  • November 9, 1941 at 9.30pm on the BBC Forces Programme – Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn first broadcast.
  • March 22, 1942 – First daily news bulletin transmitted in Morse Code to the Resistance in Europe.
  • January 18, 1943Richard Dimbleby accompanies RAF bomber crew in raid on Berlin.
  • November 14, 1943 at 9.30pm on the BBC Home Service – The BBC celebrates its 21st birthday with “21 Years of the BBC”.
  • June 30, 1944 – Bush House, home to the European Services, damaged by a flying bomb.
  • May 8, 1945 – VE Day broadcasts by King George VI and Winston Churchill.
  • August 15, 1945 – VJ Day broadcasts by King George VI and Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

BBC Radio after the war

  • July 29, 1945 – Regional broadcasting resumed and the BBC Light Programme is launched.
  • September 29, 1946 – The BBC Third Programme begins.
  • November 20, 1947 at 11.00am – The BBC Home Service and the BBC Television Service cover Princess Elizabeth’s marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh.
  • December 26, 1948 at 9.15pm on the BBC Home Service – First Reith Lecture broadcast, with a talk entitled “Authority and the Individual” by Bertrand Russell.
  • February 15, 1951 – Funeral of King George VI broadcast on BBC radio and Television.
  • May 2, 1955 at 6.30pm – VHF broadcasting begins on the BBC Home Service, BBC Light Programme and BBC Third Programme for Greater London and South East England.
  • September 30, 1957 – The BBC reorganises its radio services and Network Three begins.
  • April 14, 1958 – The BBC Radiophonic Workshop is formed.

BBC Radio in the 1960s

  • September 19, 1960 at 10.00pm on the BBC Home Service – Start of the “Ten O’Clock” news and current affairs programme.
  • May 1, 1965 – The BBC’s General Overseas Service is renamed BBC World Service.
  • October 10, 1965 at 8.10am on the BBC Home Service – Immigrant’s programmes begin on radio and television, with “Apna Hi Ghar Samajhiye” for listeners from India and Pakistan.
  • September 30, 1967 at 5.30amBBC Radio 1 is launched. The BBC Light Programme becomes BBC Radio 2, the BBC Third Programme is renamed BBC Radio 3, and BBC Radio 4 became the new name for the BBC Home Service.
  • November 8, 1967BBC Local Radio is launched with Radio Leicester.