Sunday 30 September 2018

The Radio Show (Revived)

In October 1988 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the national radio stations the BBC revived the old Radio Show format: an exhibition at Earl's Court to celebrate the medium. These national exhibitions had been running since the 1920s until the mid 60s, with a break for the war, styled as Radiolympia and later The Radio Show.

For the 1988 show the BBC had two working studios and a purpose built theatre for recordings of Gardeners' Question Time and Any Questions? The Radio Times joined in with a special cover designed by Bob Murdoch and six feature pages looking at each of the four radio networks, local radio, the World Service and the latest technology, Radio Data Systems.  

A number of shows were broadcast live or recorded at Earl's Court including Bruno Brookes, Gary Davies, Singled Out, Woman's Hour, You and Yours, Desert Island Discs, Folk on 2 and Friday Night is Music Night. On Saturday 1 October Adrian Juste was live on Radio 1 (in this recording uploaded by David Cunningham).

To celebrate 21 years of Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 David Frost presented a live variety show on Radio 2 on the evening of Friday 30 September titled The Radio Show Radio Show. Unfortunately I've only got 30 minutes of the hour long show so if you a complete copy please contact me. The opening announcements come from Stuart Grundy for Radio 1, James Alexander Gordon for Radio 2, Piers Burton-Page for Radio 3 and Peter Donaldson for Radio 4. In this recording  you'll also hear the BBC Radio Orchestra, the Stephen Hill Singers, Richard Murdoch, the Week Ending team of Sally Grace, David Tate and Jon Glover and star guest Frankie Howerd.

Saturday 29 September 2018

The Radio Show Exhibition

It was in 1922, just months after the launch of 2MT and 2LO, that the nascent radio industry held its first exhibition at the Horticultural Hall in Westminster. It offered the opportunity for the public to experience the new technology and encouraged the sale of wireless sets and all the various components for building your own receiving equipment. Further demonstrations were held at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in 1923 the Royal Albert Hall in 1925.

Annual shows were established in 1926 coming from the Empire Hall in Olympia organised by the Radio Manufacturers Association. When the BBC came onboard the Radiolympia exhibitions included live broadcasts from the hall and gave listeners the opportunity to meet the stars and to fill their autograph books. After the August 1939 Radiolympia there was an interregnum until 1947.  

In the 1950s the exhibition moved to Earls Court and it regularly generated a special cover on the Radio Times.  From my archive are these editions from 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1962.

These extracts come from the 1956 Radio Show booklet by which time it was organised by the Radio Industry Council. Exhibits and demonstrations weren't confined to radio of course as stands included BBC television and the newly launched ITV.

The Radio Show was discontinued in 1966 but there was a one-off revival in 1988. More on that tomorrow.     

Saturday 1 September 2018

Like You've Never Heard It Before

"And now a choice of listening on Radios 1 and 2. For Radio 1 listeners on 247 metres and VHF John Peel is your host while on Radio 2 1500 metres there's the news summary followed by Brian Matthew with Round Midnight."

How quaint this now seems. Flicking between wavebands to continue listening to your station of choice and the nation's favourite allocation of stereo listening rationed to an hour a day last thing a night and Saturday afternoons. The sharing of the scarce VHF/FM resource continued for twenty years until the 1980s when the FM spectrum was eventually opened up. A low-key launch of Radio 1 on FM in London went ahead on 31 October 1987 but the big switch-on for vast swaths of the country took place nearly a year later. The FM switch-on date was 1 September 1988.

Robin Forrest bemoaning the lack of stereo Radio 1 in the
Radio Times letters column of  8 February 1986.
Throughout the day the band de jour Bros were helicoptered around and ceremoniously pushed the buttons in central Scotland, the north and the Midlands. The switch-on for South Wales and the west of England happened on the 29th, other areas followed in November and in December 1989.

The schedule for Radio 1 (and Radio 2) on 1 September 1988
This is most of what I recorded that day up in Yorkshire as 98.8 MHz went live from Holme Moss. First its Adrian Juste with an FM test transmission taped on 29 August and the barker announcing the switch-on on the 1st at 12 noon, though in fact it took place at 1pm. 

The lunchtime Newsbeat follows with Ian Parkinson and Sybil Ruscoe joined by Simon Mayo, though the messing about with left and right channels is lost on my medium wave recording.

With Gary Davies touring the south coast on the Roadshow it was Roger Scott covering the lunchtime show and he hands over to Dave Lee Travis and Bros for the 98.8 switching. We hear more of Roger in super stereo and then Steve Wright with a little help from Sid the Manager. Bruno Brookes (your compact disc DJ) follows before a complete recording of the BBC1/Radio 1 simulcast of Top of the Pops with Wrighty and Goodiebags. These simulcasts continued until August 1991.  

The evening listening continues with clips from the Kershaws, Liz and then Andy.

At 1 hour 26 minutes in its the moment when every radio nerd hit the record button to capture the 5-minute opening jingle sequence in stereo. These recordings come from 2 September and feature Adrian John, Simon Mayo and Simon Bates. At this point you'll gather that Jane Wiedlin's Rush Hour was getting plenty of radioplay. To round it off a couple of clips from Saturday 3 September with Robbie 'If it Moves, Funk It' Vincent and Mark Goodier.

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