Here is the News from IRN 

30 August 2021

A major world, and home news service for ILR listeners…



Radio Annual cover

From the Radio Annual (Beacon edition) 1984

“Here is the news from IRN” is a familiar introduction to news items heard daily on ILR stations throughout the country.

Independent Radio News is one of the most important and highly regarded of the national news services which keep the British public up to date with world and home events.

IRN was established in 1973 when the first independent local radio stations came on the air to provide the then-new broadcasting service with a professional and independent news service.

From the outset, it has been integrally linked with LBC, (London Broadcasting Company), the first all-news radio station serving London.

Speed, Accuracy

IRN has established a well deserved reputation for the speed and accuracy of its reporting. It can claim many ‘first with the news’ successes in competition against other major national news gathering organisations.

Probably the biggest challenge faced by the IRN news team was the coverage of the Falklands crisis and the progress of the war. IRN received many official and public tributes for the speed and accuracy of its reporting.

Wherever news is being made in the UK or throughout the world, there is an IRN reporter or correspondent ‘on the spot’, to relay the story instantly back to the IRN newsroom in London.

From there it is transmitted by telex to all the independent local radio stations or a voice report can be taken and relayed ‘on-air’ immediately.

A major statement in the United Nations Assembly or perhaps made by the American President in the White House in Washington can be heard by ILR listeners in their local radio station within minutes.



Where major events happen, such as the launching of a space shuttle from Cape Canaveral, ILR reporters can be heard describing the event as it takes place.

The IRN newsroom in the LBC studios is based close to Fleet Street, the centre of British news reporting, not far from where Dr Johnson wrote the first English dictionary.

The news is gathered for use ‘on-air’ by more than 40 local radio stations in several ways and a great deal of daily planning and organisation goes into giving ILR listeners the best news service possible.

The news editor has to ensure coverage of all major events that are pre-planned such as significant court cases, the opening of Parliament, Royal visits, or, overseas, sessions of the United Nations, meetings of the oil producing countries to decide world oil prices, and the European Parliament… the list is endless.

A news diary is kept for this purpose and updated each day.



Instant News

But, in addition, the newsroom has to be geared up to cope with the instant news that occurs without warning, and a special team of reporters is always on stand-by.

The Argentine invasion of the Falklands, the start of the Polish crisis, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the day that the American embassy staff were taken hostage in Iran, and the siege of the Iranian embassy in London are all classic examples of unexpected daily events that keep a radio news team on its toes, 24 hours a day.

IRN’s own reporters, together with reporters from the local radio stations themselves, gather the news from around Britain and overseas and relay it to the central news desk, where it is assessed by news editors according to news value and priority before it is processed by sub-editors for immediate telex transmission to all the independent local radio stations.

In addition, regular ‘on-air’ voice reports are supplied to local radio stations where they can be used instantly or recorded for inclusion in the next station news programme.


A messy newsroom

IRN news staff collecting information for broadcasts.


Some local radio stations use the IRN bulletin ‘live’ at the top of every hour. Other stations slot the material into their own world, home and extensive local news bulletins.

The service from IRN of world and home news enables tne newsroom and reporters to give more time to providing and developing the most comprehensive local radio news coverage possible.

News and information about the local community served by independent local radio and provided throughout the day has become one of the outstanding innovative features of ILR. Local news plus local traffic and weather reports is recognised as one of tire most important community services provided by ILR stations.



Foreign Correspondents

As well as their reporters in this country, IRN has freelance correspondents throughout the world and two permanent foreign correspondents.

Andrew Manderstam is based in Washington and keeps IRN listeners up to date with all that happens throughout America, in the White House and The United Nations headquarters.

In Brussels, Nick Peters reports daily on news and events throughout the countries of the European Economic Community, and covers meetings of the EEC parliament and committees.

To ensure that newsworthy events in-provincial towns and villages throughout the British Isles are not missed, IRN employs professional freelance ‘stringers’ who are paid for each item of news they provide.

These freelance journalists are frequently responsible for providing the offbeat, sometimes humorous, stories from out of the way places. It may be whales stranded in the Wash on the East coast, a wild animal that escapes from a small town zoo, or a protest by a village opposing a decision to build a motorway nearby.



Often, a first brief paragraph from a distant ‘Stringer’, say, in the Outer Hebrides, may be the start of a major story. The first sightings of a small off shore oil slick may be just a paragraph in an early morning news bulletin. By mid-morning, IRN reporters may be on their way to cover a disastrous oil pollution story.

To ensure that virtually nothing that occurs each day is missed, IRN newsdesk also takes reports from other news agencies such as Reuters, the world’s oldest and largest independent news agency. Reuters is subscribed by the majority of daily newspapers, TV and radio stations throughout the world. Its telex machines transmit a continuous stream of world news items, 24 hours a day.



IRN Specialist Reporters

The IRN news team includes reporters who specialise in specific news subjects, such as Defence, the City and Finance, Royalty, Industry and Labour Relations, and Sport.

One of the most important subjects covered by an experienced and specialist team is Parliamentary News.

IRN has its own studio at the House of Commons. A team of six reporters, three radio engineers and two assistants are permanently based at Westminster to provide regular news reports, including urgent ‘flashes’ telephoned through to the IRN newsdesk, and voice reports both live and recorded. Major Commons debates or announcements such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget speech are introduced’ by IRN reporters and transmitted live via the IRN newsroom to all independent local radio stations or recorded for use in later news bulletins or programmes.

The news gathered by the IRN newsteam is broadcast 24 hours a day by LBC to its 2¾ million listeners in the London area.

Some 17 million people throughout the rest of the country, regular listeners to the independent radio stations, are kept up to date with world events by the news service provided by IRN.


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Liverpool, Friday 19 July 2024