Local Radio: A History
From the website http://www.localradioday.co.uk
The story of local radio in the UK is, ironically, a story of radio becoming less and less local.
The BBC was a pioneer, but without any licence fee money to pay for it to begin with. It meant the first experiment in local stations in places such as Leicester, Merseyside and Sheffield, was funded by local authorities, tying the eventual success of these fledgling broadcasters to the local areas and ratepayers they served.
With the demise of the offshore pirate stations, a new breed of Independent Local Radio Stations (the clue to the success of which was in the name) appeared from 1973 onwards. These were locally owned, locally controlled, tightly regulated and with an emphasis on public service broadcasting.
There was no networking (where programming is shared) and every radio station was based in the area that it served.
In fact, the original legislation specifically stated that local radio stations should not: “consist of identical or similar material to an extent inconsistent with the character of services as local sound broadcasting services.” Local advisory committees were also legislated for, meaning that local voices from the communities these stations were to serve would be heard and, importantly, listened to.
Applicants competed to out-local their competitors in order to win the licence. Dedicated newsrooms were well staffed, community events were supported with more than simply lip service and local decisions were taken locally.
Since then, however, there has been a delocalisation of local radio, with the public service obligation being removed in 1990 and a gradual march of shared programming, meaning many local radio stations are no longer located in the area that they purport to serve. Indeed, the bulk of much of their output is produced many, many miles away from where listeners actually live – sometimes in another country entirely.
Why Are We Doing This?
We believe local radio is more important than many radio companies do. We believe when it is done properly, with the right funding, the right people and the right motives it can help change the lives of listeners and make a real and lasting impact to the area that it serves.
It can help local businesses prosper and thrive, making a real impact on the economy of the areas where it still exists and it can provide skills and training to local people.
We want to make the case for local radio because we feel it can, sometimes, be taken for granted.
Local Radio Day celebrates the partnership that exists between radio stations and their listeners and sets out to demonstrate the difference that local really makes.
Local Radio Day: 27th May 2016.