To mark fifty years since the launch of Radio 1, ‘Radio Reinvented’ offered a selection of clips from the BBC Oral History Collection that tells the behind-the-scenes story of the suppression of pirate radio and the BBC’s first pop-music station. It also sets this tumultuous episode in broadcasting history against a wider reorganisation of radio across the whole of the Corporation. On 30 September 1967, Radio 1 went on the air, the Light Programme changed into Radio 2, the old Third Programme became Radio 3, and the old Home Service emerged as Radio 4. Although it was a ‘television age’ – indeed, because it was a ‘television age’ – radio was being reinvented from top to bottom. Were the changes wrought in 1967 instrumental in helping the older medium to survive as a major cultural force in the UK – or were other, longer-term processes just as important?
This selection of interviews from the BBC Oral History Collection features clips from: Terry Wogan, Hugh Carleton Greene, Robin Scott, Gerard Mansell, David Hatch, William Glock, Howard Newby, Stephen Bonarjee, Patricia Hughes, Tom Crowe, Philip French, Martin Esslin, Barbara Bray, John Tydeman, Liz Forgan. An interview with the presenter Pete Murray, recorded by the British Entertainment History Project, is included, along with clips from two newly-filmed interviews for the Sussex-BBC Centenary Collection: with the veteran presenter Tony Blackburn and the former Radio 1 Controller Johnny Beerling.
Alongside a detailed insiders’ account of the launch of Radio 1, there are short features on: Radio Caroline, jingles, the DJ, needle time, radio drama, the role of the continuity announcer, evolving styles of presentation, the creation of the ‘Music Programme’ for classical music lovers, and pressure for an all-news network. There’s a longer profile of John Peel and a new appraisal of the controversial 1973 radio drama by David Rudkin, Cries from Casement as His Bones are Brought to Dublin. The website also includes several archive programme recordings, key government documents relating to the closedown of the pirates, and downloadable copies of audience research from the 1960s held at the BBC’s Written Archive Centre. Material from Mass Observation includes early accounts of ‘background listening’ to radio from 1949 and public reaction to the BBC’s rolling news coverage of the 1991 Gulf War.