Local radio – from the BBC Site

The Village Loudspeaker: What’s happened to truly local radio?

By Richard LattoBBC South

  • 7 March 2020
Ian Calvert
Image captionPlymouth Sound once reached two thirds of the city’s radio listeners

With half of all local commercial radio stations in the UK now owned by three companies, and national programmes increasingly replacing regional ones, the future of truly local radio is looking uncertain.

In 20 years, local listening has gone from 40% of the market to less than 25%, and many stations have disappeared or been absorbed into consolidated “network centres”.

Last year, 36 local commercial breakfast shows were replaced with two national programmes, and 10 entire regional sites closed completely.

“We’ve seen a lot of local radio presenters lose their jobs and it’s quite a sad situation around the country,” says Stuart Clarkson, deputy editor of RadioToday.

He estimates that more than 250 presenters will lose their jobs as a result of national programming replacing local broadcasting as the industry continues to shrink.

Jamie Theakston, Amanda Holden and Emma Bunton
Image captionHeart features national stars like Jamie Theakston, Amanda Holden and Emma Bunton

“Things have changed a lot socially as well,” Mr Clarkson says. “These days people listening to the radio tend to want to hear music. Local radio is less important now and I think with the change we’ve had in social media people get their information and local content from different places.”

He said more and more “heritage” names in broadcasting are being replaced with large brands like Heart, Capital and Smooth.

“So Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden are on local radio stations around the country,” he added.

Plymouth Sound Radio poster
Image captionPlymouth Sound Radio closed its local studios in August 2010

One of the most successful stations in the independent local radio marketplace was Plymouth Sound, which at one point reached 63% of the city’s population.

The station’s controller was Louise Churchill, who also presented a phone-in for nearly two decades. She says their philosophy was “to be for the community, with the community and about the community”.

“You had the chance to phone the station and express your view on the government or the council, or the local golf club… and you would be heard all over the city,” she adds.

Presenter Ian Calvert says the station’s team also lived locally. “We knew every road, we knew most people who owned stores, shops and pub landlords. It was like Emmerdale or Dibley.”

He adds that at the height of the station’s popularity “it went crazy, it was like pop-star stuff” but “those days are gone”.

Media captionIan Calvert (centre) said some presenters were treated like pop stars

Over the years that followed its successful launch in 1975, Plymouth Sound Radio changed owners, became less local, and was rebranded to Heart in 2009.

The station eventually closed its local studios in August 2010, and its fate is one that has befallen many stations around the country.

Technology has allowed radio groups to consolidate their assets and broadcast from large network centres, such as those operated today by Global Radio in London and the Bauer Media Group in Manchester.

These provide mostly national programmes, with some local content to fulfil relaxed local and regional requirements from Ofcom.

Plymouth Sound
Image captionPlymouth Sound Radio changed owners and was rebranded to Heart in 2009

Of the 329 stations operating analogue local radio licences in the UK, more than half are now owned by three media companies, according to a 2018 report from the Media Reform Coalition.

Vital public service

With the majority of commercial stations reducing their local output, in some areas the BBC has been the only remaining local broadcaster.

And figures for the corporation’s network of 39 stations have fallen from 10 million listeners per week in the 90s, to an all-time low of 5.6 million last year.

Image captionAn advertisement for BBC local radio was produced in 1993

“Younger audiences are interested in local things so we have to deliver that material in the best possible way we can,” said Chris Burns, head of audio and digital for BBC England.

She said that in the future content could be delivered in “bite-sized form” using tools such as the BBC Sounds service.

“We need to find new ways to reach these audiences while preserving the very best of what we already do.”

Media captionChris Burns is the head of audio and digital for BBC England

Burns says traditional linear BBC local radio stills provides a vital public service, such as during the Sheffield flooding in 2019, when the station staged a charity concert to help flood-hit residents.

Image captionBBC Sheffield broadcast throughout the floods in 2019

“The TV cameras may have gone, but the reality is that the aftermath is still something people live through and that’s what local radio can give you that I don’t think anyone else can do,” she says.

With advancements in technology it is increasingly possible for people to develop and run their own local stations.

Former local BBC and commercial radio presenter Duncan Warren and his son have set up Goldmine, which broadcasts on digital radio across Cornwall.

“56% of listeners in Cornwall are now listening on DAB so we have now become the main listening force,” he explains.

Image captionGoldmine broadcasts on digital radio across Cornwall

Stuart Clarkson from RadioToday has also been observing how community radio has expanded within the industry.

He said: “We’ve got a few hundred community radio stations dotted around the country and the plan is for even more of those to appear.”

Southampton’s Voice FM is one community radio station with a full schedule of local programmes.

Presenter Daniela Da Palma said they try to feature local guests and focus on issues that affect the local community, which makes them “very special”.

Media captionCommunity radio stations can only raise 50% of their income from commercial sources

But many community radio managers have expressed frustration at Ofcom’s funding restrictions, which mean the majority of stations can only raise 50% of their income from commercial sources.

Tony Gillham, manager of Black Cat Radio in St Neots, says that with more money they could “compete with the big boys on equal terms” and provide a much better service for the area.

He added: “The big boys are in it to make money, we’re in it to make programmes, which is exactly where we started out in the 70s.”

The Village Loudspeaker: What’s Happened To Local Radio? was broadcast on 6 March 2020 and is now available on the BBC iPlayer.


I Love The Smell of Punk In The Morning- “Radio Radio”- Elvis Costello & The Attractions. “Radio Radio” was the final song on the second Elvis Costello album “This Years Model.” It was first written in 1974 as “Radio Soul” and had a positive view towards the radio but by 1978 the focus of the […]


Further changes to some BBC local radio medium wave services

Monday 13 January 2020, 9:00Kieran CliftonDirector, BBC Distribution & Business Development COMMENTS

In my blog posted in the summer of 2017, I explained the BBC’s plans for local radio and the reasons for the closure of some of our medium wave transmitters – which happened in January last year. This was the first stage of putting into action a plan that the BBC originally announced in 2011. Starting in February 2020, and completing in mid-2020, we will be moving on to the next stage of the plan, closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales. There is a list of services affected at the end of this blog post.

My earlier blog post explained why we are closing some local medium wave transmitters, but I wanted to recap again here. The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow. We want to make our services available to you when and how you want them, but it’s also right that the BBC continues to ensure that the ways we distribute our services represent good value for money for you, the licence fee payer.

The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio, and in the past few years we have funded local DAB expansion, made all local radio stations available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds.  Together with FM (which has recently been expanded for Radio Wales), these ways of receiving our stations now make up the great majority of listening, and as a result continuing to transmit these services on medium wave would no longer represent good value for money. 

This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implementing it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change.  We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.

All stations which will be affected will continue to be on FM and digital outputs (such as DAB, digital television, or online). For most people, re-tuning their radios or cars to FM or DAB is likely to be the simplest solution.

You can use our Problem Assistant tool to get more information on how to access all BBC services in your area.

The stations which will no longer be transmitted on MW are:

  • Three Counties Radio (3CR)
  • Radio Merseyside
  • Radio Newcastle
  • Radio Solent (for Dorset)
  • Radio Solent
  • Radio Cornwall
  • Radio York

In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

Radio Scotland

  • Areas in and around both Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright

Radio Wales

  • Tywyn, Forden and Llandrindod Wells transmitter areas

Radio Cumbria

  • Areas in and around Whitehaven

Radio Norfolk

  • Areas in and around Norwich

Last Train To London: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) — AMERICA ON COFFEE

stock “Last Train To London” is a song by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and a fifth track on the Album “Discovery” was released in 1979 in the UK as a double A-side single with “Confusion”. It peaked at number 8 in the UK Singles Chart. However, in the US the two songs charted separately, […]

Last Train To London: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) — AMERICA ON COFFEE

News nugget

From the Radio Today Site


BBC Essex radio broadcaster Tim Gillett to retire

By Ray GreenFebruary 4, 2020 – 5:56 pm 6

BBC Essex broadcaster Tim Gillett is retiring after 35 years on the air in the region.

Tim has been breaking the news to Essex since 1986 when he was taken on by Essex Radio as a junior reporter.

“I arrived at Radio House in Southend from working as a radio reporter on Humberside, just as the Jeremy Bamber trial was getting underway,” said Tim.

“Within months I was reporting on the great hurricane of 1987 and interviewing Margaret Thatcher on the 1987 General Election trail.”

Tim went on to broadcast live from the Queen’s opening of the QEII Bridge in 1991 and become Essex Radio and Breeze AM’s news editor.

In 1994, Tim was appointed a senior broadcast journalist at BBC Essex in Chelmsford, where he became an assistant editor, news editor, programmes editor, a presenter and in recent years, weekend editor. He was also responsible for putting together Pirate BBC Essex in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

“Those celebrations of 60s offshore pirate radio were by far the pinnacle in listener terms of my time in radio,” says Tim.

Tim, who’s 59, has also reported and presented on seven general elections, countless local elections, and presented BBC Essex’s 2014 Clacton by-election programme coverage.

Tim is one of few broadcasters who’ve worked for both commercial and BBC radio in Essex. He said, “I feel so privileged to have broken so much news for the people of Essex over the years, and to try to offer some entertaining and informative radio programmes.”

He leaves BBC Essex just weeks after popular presenter Peter Holmes also departed.

Stupid Spam

I had to share this gem with you – came into my inbox today! The person has the surname of Emad. Beware some spam is not as obvious as this!

Image result for spam fritters

William G. Emad <sulaimontunde234@miserver.buzz>Wed 05/02/2020 15:17William G. EmadInterim Assistance General Manager,(Operations,Maintenance,Transportation)Philadelphia International Airport8000 Essington AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19153, USAEmail: wgemad001@gmail.com  Re: Your Abandoned Package For Delivery  I have very vital information to give to you, but first I must have your trust before I review it to you because it may cause me my job,soI need somebody that I can trust for me to be able to review the secret to you. I am Mr.Williams G. Emad, head of luggage/baggage storage facilities (Operations,Maintenance,Transportation) here at the PhiladelphiaInternational Airport USA. During my recent withheld package routine check at the Airport Storage Vault, I discovered an abandoned shipmentfrom a Diplomat from Africa and when scanned it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in a Metal Trunk Box weighing approximately110kg. The consignment was abandoned because the Contents of the consignment was not properly declared by the consignee as ?ONEY?atherit was declared as personal effect to avoid interrogation and also the inability of the diplomat to pay for the United States Non InspectionCharges which is $3,700USD. On my assumption the consignment is still left in our Storage House here at the Philadelphia InternationalAirport Philadelphia till date. The details of the consignment including your name, your email address and theofficial documents from the United Nations office in Geneva are tagged on the Trunk box.  However, to enable me confirm if you are the actual recipient of this consignment as the assistant director of the Inspection Unit, I willadvise you provide your current Phone Number and Full Address, to enable me cross check if it corresponds with the address on theofficial documents including the name of nearest Airport around your city. Please note that this consignment is supposed to have beenreturned to the United States Treasury Department as unclaimed delivery due to the delays in concluding the clearance processes so asa result of this, I will not be able to receive your details on my official email account. So in order words to enable me cross checkyour details, I will advise you send the required details to my private email address for quick processing and response. Once Iconfirm you as the actual recipient of the trunk box, I can get everything concluded within 48hours upon your acceptance and proceedto your address for delivery.  Lastly, be informed that the reason I have taken it upon myself to contact you personally about this abandoned consignment is because Iwant us to transact this business and share the money 70% for you and 30% for me since the consignment has not yet been returned to theUnited States Treasury Department after being abandoned by the diplomat so immediately the confirmation is made, I will go ahead andpay for the United States Non Inspection Fee of $3,700 dollars and arrange for the box to be delivered to your doorstep Or I can bring itby myself to avoid any more trouble but you have to assure me of my 30% share. I wait to hear from you urgently if you are still alive and I will appreciate if we can keep this deal confidential. Please get back tome via my private Email ( wgemad001@gmail.com )for further directives:  You can call me on my telephone number and drop a message at Tel: 214-307-5586  Thank you. Williams G. Emad

In London on Saturday

I visited Portland Place and Broadcasting House and have brought back some interesting photos. Well I hope you find them interesting,

The Archers: Why We Hate BBC Radio 4’s Stupid Soap Opera — Professional Moron

This chap doesn’t like the Archers or any Soap Opera. Some mild expletives here but nothing too offensive. From another wordpress blog – please click on link at bottom of this first few lines to read the entire item.

Recently listening to the Church of Wittertainment on Radio 5 Live, one segment had a 50+ couple review various BBC radio programmes. Turns out they hate the film review show’s podcast pre-show pre-amble. But they love The Archers… this just won’t stand! The Archers This show has run since 1951 so, as with various other things […]

The Archers: Why We Hate BBC Radio 4’s Stupid Soap Opera — Professional Moron

The Bona Innocence Of Youth – Polari and The BBC — TanGental

From another wordpress blog – please click on link at bottom of this first few lines to read the entire item. ( I could almost have written this myself, same childhood memories)

As a child, Sundays had a certain set piece feel to them. A roast lunch for sure. For some years the Archaeologist and I were dispatched to the local Sunday school at a Methodist Church in Upper Caterham where I passed some sort of religious knowledge exams. I think the outcome can be described as […]

The Bona Innocence Of Youth – Polari and The BBC — TanGental

The last radio station — TechCrunch

From another wordpress blog – please click on link at bottom of this first few lines to read the entire item. Ship to shore radio of course not broadcast!

North of Silicon Valley, protected by the Point Reyes National Seashore, is the only operational ship-to-shore maritime radio station. Bearing the call sign KPH, the Point Reyes Station is the last of its kind. KPH is divided between two physical stations: one, knows as the voice, is responsible for transmitting; the other half of the […]

The last radio station — TechCrunch