LBC 97.3

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LBC Radio.png
City of license London
Slogan "Leading Britain's Conversation" (previously 'London's Biggest Conversation)
Frequency RDS: __LBC___, FM 97.3 MHz
- 12C (London)
- 11D (Nationwide)
Freesat: 734
Sky: 0112
Virgin Media: 973
TalkTalk TV: 627
First air date 8 October 1973
11 February 2014
(National DAB)
Format News/Talk
Audience share 4.3% (December 2012, [1])
Owner Global Radio
Sister stations Heart London
Capital London
Classic FM

LBC is a London-based national talk and phone-in radio station. It is one half of the latest incarnation of LBC, the news and speech service which was Britain's first commercial radio station when it went on air in October 1973. LBC's current format - with talk on 97.3FM and rolling news on LBC News 1152 - was established in January 2003.


The station launched on 8 October 1973. The first bulletin was written by News Editor, later Programme Controller, Keith Belcher, and the first voice on air was Australian-expatriate newsreader Ken Guy.[citation needed]

The launch attracted considerable attention and a sizeable audience, particularly for the pairing of journalist Paul Callan and the writer Janet Street-Porter, who contrived to create a new form of radio, albeit unintentionally.[citation needed] The pair were pitched as co-presenters of the morning drive-time show.[1] The intention was to contrast the urbane Callan with the less couth Street-Porter,[citation needed] whose accents were respectively known to studio engineers as "cut-glass" and "cut-froat".

In the event friction between the ill-assorted pair led to an entertaining stream of one-upmanship that became required listening for many Londoners, the sharper put-downs being blamed for several collisions by motorists incapacitated with laughter.[citation needed] The programme was the first in the UK to combine interviews with celebrities and heavyweight political figures on the same show, blurring the line between classic British comedy and analysis of international affairs.


In 2002 the company was bought for £23.5m by the media company Chrysalis,[2][3][4] who trumpeted their purchase with the promise that they would lift the listenership to at least one million from around 700,000 (LBC enjoyed an audience of more than two million in the early 1980s). Production was moved to Chrysalis's base in North Kensington, and the formatting of the two frequencies was swapped, the talk format moving to FM and the news format to AM;[5] but an array of presenters including Boy George, Henry Kelly, Caroline Feraday and Sandi Toksvig (all no longer with the company).

In February 2007, Chrysalis confirmed media speculation that it was 'reviewing' the entire radio operation at its investors' request.[6] Further media speculation from The Guardian suggested that the group had little option, due to shareholder pressure, but to sell its radio arm, including LBC, raising up to £200,000,000 for new acquisitions, while The Daily Telegraph suggested that it could be the subject of a 'management' buyout. Subsequently it was announced on 25 June 2007 that LBC along with its sister stations The Arrow, Heart and Galaxy network were to be sold for £170 million to Global Radio by the Chrysalis Group, whose Chrysalis Radio operation closed down.[7]

Global Radio owns and runs a number of major London and national brands including Classic FM, Capital (radio network), Heart (radio network), Xfm, Gold (radio), LBC News 1152 and Choice FM.

Global Radio group was formed by Ashley Tabor CEO, Charles Allen Chairman and Richard Park (broadcaster) Executive Director & Group Director of Broadcasting in 2007. Its headquarters are at 30 Leicester Square in London.

Station presenters[edit]




  • Tom Cheal, Political Editor
  • Dan Freedman, Reporter
  • Tom Swarbrick, Reporter
  • Joe Pike, Reporter
  • Charlie Girling, Entertainment Editor
  • Kevin Hughes, Entertainment Reporter (also on Capital)

Travel Presenters/Reporters[edit]


LBC claim to be the first radio station in the world to provide full-length podcasts for all its major shows, plus podcast-only shows and other things such as backstage interviews and mp3s sent to the show, under the name LBC Plus. Most podcasts require a small subscription fee, but some shows, including Best Of programmes, podcast only shows and 'bitesize' versions of programmes, are free.[8]

Tony Blair appearance[edit]

On 13 January 2004, the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented an hour long phone-in show on the station, taking pre-booked calls from LBC 97.3 listeners. His appearance was part of the 'Big Conversation' initiative to promote Government as being more accessible and in touch with the people. During the 10:00-11:00 show, a caller explained that he'd been denied access to his children for five years and asked what Mr Blair was planning to do about other fathers in a similar situation. The Prime Minister assured the caller he would look into his case personally. It later transpired that the caller was in fact Fathers 4 Justice member Ron Davis who in May of that year was arrested for entering Parliament and throwing a condom containing purple powder over Mr Blair and nearby Cabinet members. Mr. Davis claimed the attack was in response to the Prime Minister's failure to contact him or look into the matters discussed on LBC 97.3.

Ken Livingstone appearances[edit]

A regular guest on LBC 97.3 was former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who usually appeared once per month on the Nick Ferrari breakfast show. During the show he took calls from LBC listeners and discussed points put to him by Ferrari. It had become something of a running joke that the Mayor usually arrived late, blaming it on public transport, which he's famously keen to be seen using, to the extent that Nick Ferrari actually won a bet that Livingstone would be late for his next appearance on LBC. Ken's phone in sessions alternated between LBC and BBC London 94.9 these were one of the rare opportunities that Londoners had of talking directly to the then London Mayor. Since losing the 2008 Mayoral Election Livingstone began his own Saturday Morning programme on LBC, on 30 August 2008. He stood down in March 2012 to concentrate on running for London Mayor again, and was replaced by the former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.[9]

Jeni Barnett and MMR vaccine controversy[edit]

A broadcast on 7 January 2009 by Jeni Barnett in which she debated the putative dangers of MMR vaccine with callers became the subject of media controversy, first because her views were criticised as irreponsible by medical journalist Ben Goldacre, and then because LBC and Global Radio threatened legal action against Goldacre for copyright infringement.


  1. ^ Media UK's LBC page
  2. ^ Reece, Damian (15 December 2001). "London News Radio for sale with £30m tag". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  3. ^ Milmo, Dan (25 September 2002). "LBC takeover imminent". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ Cassy, John (26 September 2002). "GWR confirms LNR sale". The Guardian (London). 
  5. ^ Day, Julia (6 December 2002). "LBC goes off air in relaunch gamble". The Guardian (London). 
  6. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (12 February 2007). "Chrysalis joins consolidation race". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ Thelwell, Emma (26 June 2007). "Chrysalis sells three radio stations". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  8. ^ "LBC Podcasts". London: LBC 97.3. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith joins LBC". London: Radio Today. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 

External links[edit]