Tuesday, 8 October 2013

40 Years of Commercial Radio

It was 40 years ago today that Independent Local Radio was launched in the UK. First out of the traps was LBC, followed a week later by Capital Radio.

DJs still get all misty-eyed when they recall those heady pioneering days in the 1970s. But what did those stations sound like? Sadly there’s no central online archive. Each station was a separate business; they were under no compulsion to keep copies of their output, other than the logging tapes kept for a month or so for regulatory purposes and then wiped. Anyway tapes cost money and took up space in the basement.

So any chance of hearing the early days of ILR must rely on amateur off-air recordings, the recordings we weren’t really supposed to make. What’s available on the net is a bit sketchy. If you were in the Midlands, the North East or Liverpool you’re well catered for. Looking for Swansea Sound, Plymouth South or, surprisingly, Radio Clyde then you’ll be disappointed (launch day audio aside). 

Anyway I’ve been looking through my Favourites list and trawling the web to bring you this list of sites that celebrate all things radio and where you’ll find programme clips, jingles, photos, schedules, publicity material and car stickers that cover many of the early ILR stations that launched in the 1970s and 1980s. Happy browsing.

Needless to say I may have missed something, so send me your additions. I know there’s even more material to be found on YouTube, Soundcloud or Audioboo. Of course if you have any old cassettes tucked away at the back of a cupboard that have recordings of your favourite ILR DJ I’d love to hear them.

By the way, if you can listen in to LBC this evening there's a documentary, LBC at 40, going out at 21.00 BST.

This is ILR
One of the oldest sites to cover the ILR stations written by Sean Saunders though it hasn’t been updated for a while. Concentrating on stations in the south there are plenty of DJ profiles, programme schedules and airchecks for LBC, Capital Radio, Radio Victory, Radio 210, Essex Radio, County Sound, Southern Sound, Invicta, Radio Broadland, Southern Sound and Ocean Sound.  

An excellent site written by Mike Smith. It has great sections on the history of radio in the UK and looks at some depth into the transmitting and engineering side. Loads of great coverage of local radio in the Midlands covering BRMB, Xtra AM, Mercia Sound, Fox FM, Buss FM with photos, publicity, sound clips and jingles. Plus there are pages on Forth Radio, County Sound, Wiltshire Radio and Radio 210. Set aside a few days to look round this site!

Aircheck Downloads
With over 2,000 scoped airchecks from the 1980s onwards. For its sheer range this perhaps the best audio source on the web.

Radio Moments
Radio professional and fully  signed-up radio anorak David Lloyd has a vast collection of radio airchecks covering both commercial and BBC radio. He’s made a point of collecting station launches and you’ll find all the original 19 ILR stations on his Audioboo channel. 

LBC News Radio
Loaded with audio from the first ILR station all recorded and uploaded by Geoff Lumley. If you remember the days of AM with Douglas Cameron and Bob Holness this site is for you.

Beacon Radio Memories
Thoroughly researched site about the last of the original 19 stations

Radio Aire Archive
Stacks of DJ profiles, with photos some DJs would probably rather forget, and audio for the Leeds-based station.  An associated page covers Magic 828.

Radio Hallam
Dozens of clips from the first four years (1974-78) of Radio Hallam with Messrs Skues and co.

Radio Tees 257
One of two sites dedicated to this fine station with plenty of audio to keep you listening for a few hours.

Metro Radio
Linked to the above Tees site you’ll find stacks of info and programme clips for Metro Radio.

Radio Tees Tribute Site
This site benefits from having plenty of audio that is easily playable online. You’ll have fun with dozens of jingles dating from 1975 to 1987.

Radio City – Brian Jones Tribute Website One of two sites about Radio City. This one compiled by Brian Jones has loads of promotional material and interviews with former staff.

194 Radio City
The second site dedicated to the Liverpool station. Slightly less on offer here but check out the jingles page, just how many stations did Kenny Everett make jingles for I wonder?

The “heart and soul of Devon” is recalled on this Devonair tribute site. Most of the audio clips on offer are jingles but you can hear part of the final day from 1994.

North West Radio Memories
A collection of photos for Piccadilly, City, Signal, Red Rose and others.

Remembering Radio Orwell
A page compiled by Phil Archer with links to a number of Soundcloud clips.

Site run by Keith Sykes that features Mercia Sound, the ill-fated Centre Radio plus Viking Radio

Essex Radio
A page on the history of Essex Radio on the Radio and Telly website

A page on the Radio Trent group oldies station GEM-AM

Swedish Radio Archive
Swedish radio enthusiast Ingemar Lindqvist has amassed hours of recordings including Capital Radio, mainly Kenny Everett, and Radio Victory.

History of Commercial Radio
David Harber is writing a history of commercial radio in the UK which should be published soon.

And finally if you want to hear more from the early days of Viking Radio then I can, in all modesty, suggest looking through the posts on this very blog.

Fancy a canter through 40 years of ILR? Turn up the volume and wallow in this audio montage from David Lloyd.

listen to ‘ILR - The story ’ on Audioboo

The Honeysett cartoon comes from the 28 April 1976 edition of Punch.

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