BBC Local Radio

BBC Local Radio is the BBC‘s local and regional radio service for England and the Channel Islands, consisting of forty (40) stations. They cover a variety of areas; with some serving a city and surrounding areas, for example BBC Radio Manchester; a county, for example BBC Radio Norfolk; a conurbation, for example BBC WM; or a region, for example BBC Radio Solent.


On June 27, 1962 The Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting published its report and recommended that the BBC should extend its activities to the creation of local radio stations in order to prevent the introduction of commercial radio.

In 1966, a government White Paper paved the way for the launch of a small number (eight) of two-year experimental BBC Local Radio stations.

The stations were launched progressively; starting with BBC Radio Leicester on November 8, 1967, with the last station to launch being the short-lived BBC Dorset FM on April 26, 1993. Since then, many local radio 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 come to nothing.

The popularity of pirate radio was to challenge a change within the (then) 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 the fact 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. There were eight stations in the initial ‘experiment’, which lasted for two years. Radio Leicester was the first to launch, followed by Leeds, Stoke, Durham, Sheffield, Merseyside, Brighton, and Nottingham. When this finally finished, it was deemed so successful that all of the stations, except BBC Radio Durham, remained on air. In addition to this, more followed in 1970 and 1971; BBC Radio Birmingham, Bristol, Blackburn, Derby, Humberside, London, Manchester, Medway, Newcastle (replacing BBC Radio Durham), Oxford, Solent, and Teesside.

  • November 8, 1967: at 12.45pm, BBC Local Radio launched when the first station, BBC Radio Leicester, started broadcasting.
  • November 15, 1967: BBC Radio Sheffield
  • November 22, 1967: BBC Radio Merseyside
  • January 31, 1968: BBC Radio Nottingham. Four days later the station hosts the UK’s first ever radio phone-in.
  • 14 February – BBC Radio Brighton
  • 14 March – BBC Radio Stoke
  • 24 June – BBC Radio Leeds
  • 3 July – BBC Radio Durham

On July, 1969 the BBC publishes a report called “Broadcasting in the Seventies” proposing to replace regional broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 with BBC Local Radio. BBC Local Radio is made permanent after the two-year experiment is judged to have been a success.

BBC Local Radio expands

  • January 2, 1970: BBC Radio Newcastle
  • September 10, 1970: BBC Radio Manchester
  • September, 1970: BBC Radio Bristol
  • October 6, 1970: BBC Radio London
  • October 29, 1970: BBC Radio Oxford
  • November 9, 1970: BBC Radio Birmingham
  • December 18, 1970: BBC Radio Medway
  • December 31, 1970: BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Teesside
  • January 26, 1971: BBC Radio Blackburn
  • February 25, 1971: BBC Radio Humberside
  • April 29, 1971: BBC Radio Derby

On August 25, 1972, following the government’s restriction to twenty  local radio stations the corporation closed BBC Radio Durham and transferred its resources are transferred to Carlisle where BBC Radio Carlisle, now BBC Radio Cumbria, would be formed.

On October 8, 1973 BBC Local Radio faced competition for the first time when the UK’s first Independent Local Radio station, LBC, launched.

  • 24 November 24, 1973: BBC Radio Carlisle

BBC Local Radio launches in the 1980s

  • September 11, 1980: BBC Radio Norfolk
  • November 11, 1980: BBC Radio Lincolnshire
  • March 15, 1982: BBC Local Radio starts broadcasting to the Channel islands when BBC Radio Jersey launches
  • March 16, 1982 BBC Local Radio completes its launch in the Channel islands when BBC Radio Guernsey begins broadcasting
  • May 1, 1982: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
  • May 30-31, 1982: BBC Radio York is given permission to provide a temporary service to cover Pope John Paul II‘s visit to York. The service is simulcast on BBC Radio Cleveland, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Humberside and BBC Radio Sheffield.
  • January 17, 1983: BBC Radio Devon and BBC Radio Cornwall
  • July 4, 1983: BBC Radio York launches on a permanent basis
  • April 23, 1985: BBC Radio Shropshire
  • June 24, 1985: BBC Radio Bedfordshire
  • November 5, 1986: BBC Essex
  • April 11, 1988: BBC Somerset Sound launches as an opt-out station from BBC Radio Bristol
  • October 3, 1988: BBC Radio Gloucestershire
  • October 7, 1988: BBC Radio London stops broadcasting
  • October 25, 1988: BBC GLR launches, to replace BBC Radio London
  • October 30, 1988: The Asian Network launches on the MW transmitters of BBC Radio Leicester and BBC WM.
  • February 14, 1989: BBC Hereford and Worcester
  • March 4, 1989: BBC Wiltshire Sound

BBC Local Radio launches in the 1990s

  • January 17, 1990: BBC CWR
  • April 12, 1990: BBC Radio Suffolk
  • November 14, 1991: BBC Radio Surrey
  • February 21, 1992: BBC Radio Berkshire
  • April 5, 1993: BBC Radio Bedfordshire expands to cover the counties of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and is renamed BBC Three Counties Radio
  • April 26, 1993: BBC Dorset FM launches as an opt-out service from BBC Radio Devon.
  • 1 August 1, 1994: BBC Southern Counties Radio launches as the first BBC Local Radio station to adopt an all-speech format, following the merger of BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey in January
  • April 9, 1996: BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Berkshire merge to form BBC Thames Valley FM
  • November 4, 1996: The Asian Network expands into a full-time station and is renamed BBC Asian Network on the MW frequencies of Radios Leicester and WM which become FM only stations.
  • September 1, 1997: BBC Southern Counties Radio is relaunched. The all-speech format is dropped and the station reverts to a more traditional mix of music and speech.

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