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Radio days

September 30th, 2007 (10:53 am)

This is a post to mark the birthday of BBC Radios 1,2,3 and 4, though the latter three have other birthdays as 30 September 1967 marked their renamings rather than the launch of entirely new services, however the BBC like to spin the event. Good excuse for some PR-friendly event scheduling, though...

I was going to mark today by quoting from my favourite radio continuity announcement, which I'd come across a few years ago on a radio history website. This was David Dunhill closing down the BBC Home Service for the last time on Friday 29 September 1967 - "This is the end of the Home Service for today, and for all days..." and ending with a very BBC pun, reminding loyal Home Service listeners that if they were moved to consider the question "What is radio fo(u)r?" they would know the answer. However, the quote appeared in the Radio Times this week, in The Daily Telegraph too, and probably elsewhere, so it's no longer my speciality any more.

So, here I am not getting very far (as usual) with a job application, and flipping between listening to Radio 1 on a Sunday morning for probably the first time since the days of Danny Baker (and I'd only started a few years before with Dave Lee Travis on his final lap of amusingly self-referential old-style Radio 1 DJing); and Radio 2's own fortieth birthday, currently replaying an entire Kenny Everett show from 1981, competitions and all. Radio 3 didn't really emerge in a recognisable form until 1970, and they just had sixtieth anniversary celebrations for the Third Programme two years ago, so are being low-key; and Radio 4's birthday programmes are this evening.

Worth enduring on Listen Again, if only to experience 1967 middle-of-the-roadness, is Paul Hollingdale's recreation of the first Radio 2 breakfast show, with a lot of background explanation (including the last Light Programme closedown - not as fun or as gracious as the Home Service farewell - and the opening moments of the convolutedly-named 'BBC Radio 2, the Light Programme, on 1500 metres Long Wave, with Radio 1 on 247 metres') and reflections on the problems of running a radio station with a split identity, where most of the budget was allocated to the five and a half hours a day of Radio 1 (for the first eleven years an opt-out of Radio 2) and where Musicians' Union rules meant that both Radios 1 and 2 had to play cover versions of chart music, often recorded by the BBC's regional orchestras (now mostly gone), so as not to exceed the limit on the number of commercial records they could broadcast.


Posted by: didiusjulianus (didiusjulianus)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)

Yes, happy birthday radios 1-4; I've done my bit listening to several channels in the past few days.

I sympathise with the "not-getting-very-far-(as-usual). I'm not getting very far with my "very Important Assignment" TM, and am also very distractible. At least my problem with Q1 has changed from "what examples are there, I can't find any?" to "now I've got too many examples which shall I pick and why?" Aargh. Happy radio listening. I'm on yahoo music at the moment so I can pick undistracting accompaniments to my distress.

And I will end this post by saying hullo, as I think we were recently in the same place at the same time but I'm not sure I had a chance to exchange 2 words with you!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)

We were in the same place at the same time a couple of weeks back, and I certainly expressed my thanks for your hard work!

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 04:34 pm (UTC)

Radio 2 has become my default station over the last couple of years, and every time I've switched on today I've found something good. Just now it was She's Not There by the Zombies followed by an interview with Dusty Springfield, which is a swift way to my heart.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC)

I listened to Radio 2 in its 'radio dead' phase, even, at least in the 1980s. This does mean that when people of about my age reminisce aboout 1980s pop, my memory is a complete blank, but at the same time I can't counter with a classical music cachet.

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)


Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 30th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC)

Listen to the Moyles/Blackburn show if you can; they had the controller of Radio 1 who sacked Blackburn in the 1980s in the studio to be baited...

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)

We listened to the special 'Junior Choice' anniversary programme on the weekend - El seemed to enjoy the music ;-) It did make me rather nostalgic - while I don't think I ever listened to that programme, a lot of the featured songs did take me back to my own childhood, and to the television programme "A Handful of Songs" (I think) through which I learned (some of) them.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)

I missed the 'Junior Choice' revival - I never listened to it either. I did hear Tony Blackburn squirm at the memory of presenting it for its final year, before it mutated into the Radio 1 Saturday breakfast show (also presented by Blackburn, with Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin), earlier in the morning.

I watched 'A Handful of Songs', though - I can't remember the names of the presenters, apart from Helen Worth, whom I remember leaving so she could play Gail in 'Coronation Street', as viewers were told.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 4th, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
So glad you confirmed that about Helen Worth

I remember the 'Handful of Songs' show and I vaguely remember Helen Worth being on it, but it was bugging me because I wasn't sure. Strangely enough, I picked "Gail" and "Mavis" up in a taxi about 10 years ago in Blackpool and it was only after I had dropped them off at the De Vere Hotel that I remembered there was something I was meaning to ask .... lol

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 4th, 2009 09:52 am (UTC)
Re: So glad you confirmed that about Helen Worth

Apparently I was wrong about Helen Worth after all, and it was another Coronation Street actress who didn't last so long in the show...