The forgotten anniversary 

1 December 2007

Of all the broadcasting anniversaries we’ve been noting recently in these pages, there’s one that seems to have slipped by. It might seem a small thing, but it was actually quite important, especially at the time.

On Thursday 8th November 1967 at 12:45pm, the first modern BBC local radio station – in fact the first legal local radio station in the country since the earliest days of the BBC – went on the air. That station was BBC Radio Leicester on 95.05 MHz VHF, its theme a characteristic Radiophonic sequence of bleeps and bloops. BBC Radio Sheffield followed a few days later on the 15th with its David Cain Radiophonic theme tune constructed from sampled local cutlery.

The new stations – there were nine initially, funded largely by local authorities – had been made possible by the Government White Paper of 1966 that led to the end of the offshore stations, the creation on Radio 1 and the concomitant revamping of the BBC national radio network. And this group of tiny radio stations – Radio Leicester had a staff of 16 – with hardly an hour or two of needle-time (time during which they were allowed to play records).

In fact when it started, Radio Leicester broadcast a mere four hours of local output a day out of a total of about 17-18. Its funding for the first two years was just £52,000.

Two years later, the experiment was declared a success. In 1970, the BBC was cleared to go ahead with an additional 12 stations. Today there are 40 local stations covering over 90% of the UK population.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Thursday 28 September 2023