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BBC Local Radio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BBC Local Radio
Company typeDivision
IndustryMass media
United Kingdom
Area served
Channel Islands
Key people
  • Chris Burns (Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England)
  • Jason Horton (Director of Production for BBC Local Radio)
ServicesLocal Radio

BBC Local Radio (also referred to as Local BBC Radio) is the BBC's local and regional radio division for England and the Channel Islands,[1] consisting of forty stations.[2]

As of December 2023, the network broadcasts to a combined audience of 6.9 million, with a listening share of 4.9%, according to RAJAR.[3]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/1
  • BBC Local Radio Cuts - Could Diversity Be the Biggest Casualty?



Former BBC Local Radio logo, used from 2008 to 2020

The popularity of pirate radio was to challenge a change within the at the time very "stiff" and blinkered management at the BBC. The most prominent concession by the BBC was the creation of BBC Radio 1 to satisfy the ever-demanding new youth culture with their thirst for new, popular music. The other, however, was that these pirate radio stations were, in some cases, local. As a result, BBC Local Radio began as an experiment.

Initially, stations had to be co-funded by the BBC and local authorities, which only some Labour-controlled areas proved willing to do. Radio Leicester was the first to launch on 8 November 1967, followed by Leeds, Stoke, Durham, Sheffield, Merseyside, Brighton, and Nottingham. The local authority funding requirement was dropped by the early 1970s, and stations spread across the country; many city-based stations later expanded their remit to cover an entire county.[4]

There were eight stations in the initial "experiment", which lasted for two years. When this ended, it was deemed so successful that all of the stations, except BBC Radio Durham, remained on air. More followed in 1970 and 1971: BBC Radio Birmingham, Bristol, Blackburn, Derby, Humberside, London, Manchester, Medway, Newcastle (replacing Radio Durham), Oxford, Solent, and Teesside.[5]

Despite the success of this, the original stations were seen as flawed, as they originally only broadcast on the FM waveband, and not on the more widely available AM waveband. This was eventually rectified a few years after the creation of these new channels.[5]

Independent Local Radio (ILR) launched nationally in 1973, with nineteen stations; more followed in subsequent years. As a result, many of the BBC Local Radio stations found themselves in direct competition with commercial competitors that utilised many of the popular DJs from the pirate radio stations, and that gained, in most cases, large audiences. Despite this, BBC Local Radio continued to flourish, with the current network in place by the early 1990s. The complement of stations has remained unchanged since that time.[6]

Current operation

The radio stations are operated from locations around the country that usually share with the BBC regional TV news services, and their news gathering bureaux. The stations are operated by the region in which the station is based and are the responsibility of the BBC English Regions department, a division of BBC News.

The remit for each Local Radio station is the same: to offer a primarily speech-based service; comprising news and information complemented by music.[2] The target audience of BBC Local Radio are listeners aged over fifty, who are not served as well as other age groups on the BBC.[2]

Each station produces local programmes on weekdays from 6am until 2pm. Depending on location and population, afternoon, evening and weekend schedules will vary from shared regional programmes to being fully local although sports coverage continues to remain local. Since October 2023, all stations take the all England Late Show which originates in London or Manchester.[7] and since November 2023, the Sunday evening show is also carried on all stations.[8]

All local BBC radio stations simulcast BBC Radio 5 Live from 0100 until 0600.


All of the BBC Local Radio stations broadcast on FM, digital radio, Freeview and BBC Sounds in their respective areas across England, but BBC Radio London is also available on Freesat and Virgin Media.

Also, until the start of the 1990s, all BBC stations used to broadcast on medium wave although initially, the BBC's local stations were broadcast only on VHF. The start of the 1990s saw new stations, once again, launching only on FM and in 1992 and 1993, six MW transmitters - BBC Radio Cleveland, BBC Radio Northampton, BBC Radio Oxford, BBC GLR, BBC GMR and one of BBC Radio Nottingham and BBC WM's transmitters - were switched off[9][10] although three, icnlduing BBC GLR's MW frequency, were re-allocated for use by commercial radio. In 1996, the MW frequencies of BBC Radio Leicester and BBC WM were handed over to the BBC Asian Network.

MW transmitter closures began again in 2012, initially as a five-week trial to find out if listeners would miss or complain about the lack of AM services.[11] Two of the four transmitters partaking in the trial - BBC Radio Nottingham's MW transmitter and BBC Radio Kent's relay at Rusthall near Tunbridge Wells - remained off-air after the BBC said that the trial switch-off attracted very few complaints from listeners.[12] In 2018, the MW transmissions of BBC Radios Sussex, Surrey, Humberside, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Kent and Lincolnshire ended and MW coverage for Radios Devon, Lancashire and Essex was reduced. Altogether, thirteen MW transmitters were switched off.[13][14][15] In 2020, the MW transmissions of BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Solent, BBC Three Counties Radio and BBC Radio York ended, BBC Radio Cumbria stopped broadcasting on MW in Whitehaven and BBC Radio Norfolk's Norwich MW transmitter went silent.[16] In 2021, a further eight BBC Local Radio stations - BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke and BBC Radio Lancashire - stopped broadcasting on MW.[17] As of May 2024, only BBC Radio Cumbria (in North Cumbria and South Cumbria), BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Guernsey, BBC Radio Jersey, BBC Radio Norfolk (in West Norfolk) and BBC Radio Somerset, still broadcast on MW.

Due to sports rights broadcasting restrictions, some commentaries are not available on BBC Sounds. In this instance, an alternative national programme will usually be broadcast on Saturday afternoons.[18] Overnight events are replaced by a looping message explaining this is broadcast.[citation needed]


A list of the forty local radio stations by region. In addition to these stations, BBC Radio Solent operates an opt-out service covering Dorset.[2] There were also opt-out services covering Milton Keynes (BBC Three Counties Radio), Peterborough and the Fens (BBC Radio Cambridgeshire), Plymouth (BBC Radio Devon), and Swindon (BBC Wiltshire);[2] but these ceased in 2012 due to cutbacks as part of the BBC's "Delivering Quality First" programme.

BBC East

BBC East Midlands

BBC London

A Routemaster double-decker bus, being used as a mobile radio broadcasting facility by BBC Radio London in 2011, under its then current name of BBC London 94.9.

BBC North East and Cumbria

BBC North West

BBC South

BBC South East

BBC South West

BBC West

BBC West Midlands

BBC Yorkshire

Blue plaque placed by Leeds Civic Society outlining radio in Leeds

BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Former stations

The stations were launched progressively; starting with BBC Radio Leicester on 8 November 1967, with the last station to launch being the short-lived BBC Dorset FM on 26 April 1993. Since then, many stations have been merged and renamed but no new stations have been created where no service previously existed, as plans to launch stations in unserved areas, most notably in Cheshire, have not materialised.


Between October 2009 and April 2012, a three note jingle package produced by Mcasso Music Production was gradually rolled out across the network, and was in use by all BBC Local Radio stations. Mcasso also updated the imaging in October 2015 which was launched by BBC Radio London (on the day of the station's 45th anniversary) replacing the three-note package with a six-note package.

In January 2020, BBC Radio Leicester launched a brand new custom-made jingle package by Reelworld, based in MediaCity UK, Salford. The new jingle package was rolled out to all BBC Local Radio stations over the course of the year, alongside a refreshed "on air" sound to help encourage younger listeners to the station. The new station branding also incorporates a new tag line, "The Sound of *area of coverage*, and all the music you love". The new jingle package marked the first time in ten years that "sung jingles" were used in the stations' on air branding.

Dave and Sue

Dave and Sue are two fictional radio listeners created as marketing personas. Descriptions of the characters, created by the BBC, were given to all their local radio presenters as representative target listeners during the 2000s. They were later superseded by the "BBC Local Radio 2010" strategy.

The characters were created as part of "Project Bullseye". Its stated aim was "To develop great radio programming ... we need to know where the centre of our audience target is and be able to focus on it in all we do."[4]

Dave and Sue are both 55. Sue is a school secretary, while Dave is a self-employed plumber. They are both divorcees with grown-up children. The characters shop at Asda, and wear casual clothes. The couple have little interest in high culture, or politics, and see the world as "a dangerous and depressing place". They hope that radio will be "something that will cheer them up and make them laugh".[4]

BBC Local Radio staff were given facts and timelines about Dave and Sue, described as "composite listeners". Staff were asked to focus on producing something to which the pair would enjoy listening to.[19]

The BBC also produced photographs of the couple, to encourage presenters to visualise their potential listeners.[4] At the 2005 Frank Gillard Awards for BBC Local Radio, the corporation hired two actors to represent the fictional couple and award a prize to the "Receptionist of the Year".[20]

Mia Costello of BBC Radio Solent wrote a controversial internal memo in October 2006, re-stating the importance of these characters. She wrote: "Whatever job you do on station, make sure this week, you broadcast to Dave and Sue – people in their fifties. Only put on callers sounding in the 45–64 range. I don't want to hear really elderly voices. Only talk about things that are positive and appealing to people in this age range. Only do caller round ups about people in this age range." This was reprinted the following month in the Southern Daily Echo, following which a BBC spokesperson commented "Out of context these notes sound harsh and we apologise if they offend anyone."[21]

BBC Sounds

BBC Local Radio is available as a listen-again service on BBC Sounds.

England Unwrapped was launched in 2019 and shares stories made by Local Radio teams.


See also


  1. ^ "BBC Local Radio". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e "BBC Local Radio in England Policy 2010/2011". Statements of Programme Policy > British Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  3. ^ "RAJAR". Retrieved 18 May 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d David Self (28 February 2005). "Meet Dave 'n' Sue". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011.
  5. ^ a b Mike Smith (2005–2016). "UK Radio: A Brief History Part 2". MDS975. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  6. ^ Mike Smith (2005–2016). "UK Radio: A Brief History Part 3". MDS975. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Becky Want and Jo Good to host new Local BBC Radio late show". 26 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Dotun Adebayo to host new show across BBC local radio network". Radio Today. 20 October 2023. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  9. ^ "BBC Engineering Press Release" (PDF). 27 November 1991.
  10. ^ "AM/FM Online Edition #17: November 1993". Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  11. ^ "BBC local radio starts switching off AM". 19 August 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  12. ^ "MW switch-off remains at BBC Local Radio". Radio Today. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  13. ^ Clifton, Kieran (10 August 2017). "Changes to some BBC local radio medium wave services". BBC Blogs - About the BBC. Archived from the original on 20 September 2023.
  14. ^ "BBC Starts MW Switch-off". a516digital. 12 August 2017. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  15. ^ "BBC confirms local radio medium wave closures". RadioToday. 1 January 2018. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  16. ^ "FM and AM radio updates". Frequency Finder. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services". RadioToday. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Local BBC Radio show Squad Goals returns on BBC Sounds". RadioToday. 8 August 2021. Archived from the original on 13 November 2023.
  19. ^ Peter Stewart, Essential Radio Skills
  20. ^ BBC English Regions Annual Review 2005–2006
  21. ^ Andrew Napier (14 November 2006). "You are too old at 65, BBC tells listeners". Southern Daily Echo, Newsquest Media Group Limited. Retrieved 29 May 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 May 2024, at 11:33
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