BBC Regional Programme
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The BBC Regional Programme was a UK radio broadcasting service which was on the air from 9 March 1930 – when it replaced a number of earlier BBC local stations – until 1 September 1939, when it was subsumed into the BBC Home Service, two days before the outbreak of World War II.
When the British Broadcasting Company first began transmissions on 14 November 1922 from the station 2LO in the Strand, Westminster, which it had inherited from the Marconi Company (one of the six commercial companies which created the BBC), the technology did not exist either for national coverage or for joint programming between transmitters. Whilst it was possible to combine large numbers of trunk telephone lines to link transmitters for individual programmes, the process was expensive and not encouraged by the General Post Office as it tied up large parts of the telephone network. The stations that followed the establishment of 2LO in London were therefore autonomously programmed using local talent and facilities.
By May 1923, simultaneous broadcasting was technically possible, at least between main transmitters and relay stations, but the quality was not felt to be high enough to provide a national service or regular simultaneous broadcasts.
In 1924, it was felt that technical standards had improved enough for London to start to provide the majority of the output, cutting the local stations back to providing items of local interest.
Original local stations
Each of these stations broadcast at approximately 1 kW.
|Airdate||Station ID||City||Initial Frequency|
|14 November 1922||2LO||London||822 kHz|
|15 November 1922||5IT||Birmingham||626 kHz|
|15 November 1922||2ZY||Manchester||794 kHz|
|24 December 1922||5NO||Newcastle upon Tyne||743 kHz|
|13 February 1923||5WA||Cardiff||850 kHz|
|6 March 1923||5SC||Glasgow||711 kHz|
|10 October 1923||2BD||Aberdeen||606 kHz|
|17 October 1923||6BM||Bournemouth||777 kHz|
|16 November 1923||2FL||Sheffield||980 kHz|
|28 March 1924||5PY||Plymouth||887 kHz|
|14 September 1924||2BE||Belfast||682 kHz|
Each of these stations broadcast at approximately 120 W
|Airdate||Station ID||City||Relay of||Frequency|
|1 May 1924||2EH||Edinburgh||5SC||914 kHz|
|11 June 1924||6LV||Liverpool||2ZY||906 kHz|
|8 July 1924||2LS||Leeds and Bradford||2ZY||935 kHz|
|15 August 1924||6KH||Kingston-upon-Hull||2ZY||896 kHz|
|16 September 1924||5NG||Nottingham||2ZY||920 kHz|
|12 November 1924||2DE||Dundee||2BD||952 kHz|
|21 November 1924||6ST||Stoke-on-Trent||2ZY||996 kHz|
|12 December 1924||5SX||Swansea||5WA||622 kHz|
The Regional Scheme
On 21 August 1927, the BBC opened a high-power mediumwave transmitter, 5GB, at its Daventry site, to replace the existing local stations in the English Midlands. That allowed the experimental longwave transmitter 5XX to provide a service – which eventually came to be called the BBC National Programme – programmed from London and available to the majority of the population.
By combining the resources of the local stations into one regional station in each area, with a basic sustaining service from London, the BBC hoped to increase programme quality whilst also centralising the management of the radio service. This was known as The Regional Scheme.
The local transmitters were gradually either converted to a regional service relay or closed entirely and replaced by high power regional broadcasts. Some local studios were retained to provide for programming from specific areas within each region. Most transmitters also carried the BBC National Programme on a local frequency to supplement the longwave broadcasts from 5XX, initially these were on three separate frequencies and carried some local opt-outs. As the regional network expanded these were synchronized with Brookmans Park.
|Airdate||Transmitter||Region||Initial frequency||Frequency in 1939|
|21 August 1927||Daventry [a]||Midland||767 kHz|
|21 October 1929||Brookmans Park [b]||Basic Regional Programme (London)||842 kHz||877 kHz|
|17 May 1931||Moorside Edge||North||626 kHz||668 kHz|
|13 September 1931 ||Westerglen||Scottish||797 kHz||767 kHz|
|28 May 1933||Washford [c]||West||968 kHz||1050 kHz|
|17 February 1935||Droitwich||Midland||1013 kHz||1013 kHz|
|20 March 1936||Lisnagarvey||Northern Ireland (opt-out from North)||977 kHz||977 kHz|
|12 October 1936||Burghead||Scottish (for northern Scotland)||767 kHz||767 kHz|
|1 February 1937||Penmon||Welsh (West and Wales until 3 July)||804 kHz||804 kHz|
|4 July 1937||Washford||Welsh||804 kHz||804 kHz|
|19 October 1937||Stagshaw||North East and Cumbria (opt-out from North)||1122 kHz||1122 kHz|
|14 June 1939||Clevedon||West||1474 kHz||1474 kHz|
|14 June 1939||Start Point||West||1050 kHz||1050 kHz|
- ^a Until 16 February 1935.
- ^b The Brookmans Park transmitter covered London, South East England, and much of East Anglia. However, as the sustaining service for the rest of the network, the London programme was not normally referred to as such on-air or in the Radio Times, but simply as the "Regional Programme" (internally, "the basic Regional Programme").
- ^c Until 13 June 1939.
A relay station for Brookmans Park on 1402 kHz was due to open at Acle near Norwich in 1940. Construction was postponed by the outbreak of war. The station was never completed and was replaced by one at Postwick.
Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the Regional and National Programmes and replaced them with a single channel known as the BBC Home Service. The transmitter network was synchronized on 668 and 767 kHz in order to use the other frequencies for propaganda broadcasts in foreign languages. Each transmitter group would be turned off during an air raid to prevent their signals being used as navigational beacons and listeners were required to retune to a low-powered single-frequency network on 1474 kHz.
On 29 July 1945, within 12 weeks of VE Day, the BBC reactivated the Regional Programme, but kept the name "BBC Home Service". The National Programme was also reopened under a new name as the BBC Light Programme.
Both the National Programme and the Regional Programme provided a mixed mainstream radio service. Whilst the two services provided different programming, allowing listeners a choice, they were not streamed to appeal to different audiences, rather, they were intended to offer a choice of programming to a single audience. While using the same transmitters, the National Programme broadcast significantly more speech and classical music than its successor, the Light Programme. Similarly, the Regional Programme broadcast much more light and dance music than its successor, the Home Service.
- The Radio Times 32 (415 (Southern Edition)). 1931. Missing or empty
- Various authors The B.B.C. Year-book 1933 London: British Broadcasting Corporation 1932
- Various authors BBC Year Book 1947 London: British Broadcasting Corporation 1947
- Graham, Russ J A local service Radiomusications from Transdiffusion, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
- Graham, Russ J A new lease of life Radiomusications from Transdiffusion, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
- Groves, Paul History of radio transmission part 1: 1922 - 1967 Frequency Finder, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
- Paulu, Burton Radio and Television Broadcasting on the European Continent Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1967
- McCarthy, Clive Development of the BBC AM Transmitter Network
- Briggs, Asa History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom Oxford:Oxford University Press 1995 ISBN 0-19-212930-9