BBC Trashing 13 UK Medium Wave Transmitters

So the BBC has decided to turn off 13 of its Medium Wave radio transmitters.

The BBC is meant to be a public service, so in principle, saving money is good, but not if listeners are deprived from services. However, as MW use in Britain is probably pretty low now, the BBC will likely get away with it this time.

But some of the BBC local stations do occasionally split services to cover things like local sports events on MW only, leaving regular programs on FM. BBC Gloucestershire does this now and then, but I see they are not on the current list to lose MW yet.

I’m not sure how the BBC would get on removing national MW services, e.g. Virgin Radio possibly still has some audience on MW.

The Beeb’s decision is, of course, all to do with cutting transmitter running costs and the smaller but important costs of line-links and transmitter and mast maintenance.

Of course, the longer term issue is what is going to happen to the MW band? The obvious answer I wish for is to see the reworking of these frequencies using digital DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), which would give all sorts of possibilities … e.g. multiplexing of channels, an emergency alert system for the whole country and some small video content alongside radio.

But, so far, I don’t see any appetite for doing this. The BBC would probably say they could not accept the necessary capital costs and it would need the usual long-term blessing from OFCOM – and we know only too well that they are driven by political people at Westminster, who either don’t really know about the situation, or are driven by thoughts of avoiding expense … especially now when the Government faces huge capital spends reworking hundreds of high rise buildings, etc..

Is there an appetite from entrepreneurs to apply for use of some MW frequencies and start DRM? Somehow I don’t think so. Its not the same situation as in the 1960’s when there was a wide-open opportunity with a huge number of listeners equipped and ready-to-go with conventional MW sets.

It’s unlike India where the government has made the political decision and converted All India Radio to DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) without a huge number of receivers out in the population. They clearly live in hopes of building new receiver business in the country.

Recent Additions To Our Radio Station Archive

Over the last couple of weeks we have added these new items…

1. Manx Radio: Britain’s oldest licensed commercial radio station celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2014. Here are two interviews with their first General Manager, John Grierson, talking about how Manx Radio finally managed to get its license from the U.K. government and their first months on the air.

2. Manx Radio: Chris Williams presents his show dedicated to Radio Caroline’s 50th anniversary on 29th March 2014.

3. WABC New York, N.Y.: 48 minutes with Cousin’ Brucie on one of his morning shows in 1969.

4. Radio Caroline South: Listen again to the “Admiral” Robbie Dale followed by Johnnie Walker on Monday, 28th August 1967, a couple of weeks after the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Act had become law. 44 minutes.

5. Radio Caroline South Jingles 1968: On 3rd March 1968, both radio Caroline ships “Mi Amigo” and “Caroline”, were seized and towed to Amsterdam by the Wijsmuller salvage company to secure unpaid servicing bills. The Radio Caroline South ship, mv. Mi Amigo, was later sold at auction to Gerard van Dam. Thanks to John Ker, who purchased some of Caroline’s original studio equipment and kindly provided these few remaining jingles and recordings dubbed direct from one of Caroline’s Spotmaster to its Ampex tape recorder. 6-1/2 mins.

6. BBC Radio Four Extra, 20th December 2014: “Here’s Kenny” – Kenny Everett. The story of Kenny Everett’s radio and TV career. Apart from Kenny himself and many of his souvenirs, jingles, promos and clips, this programme includes extracts from pirate Big-L Radio London with contributions from Tony Blackburn and Keith Skues. 61 minutes.

7. BBC Radio Two, Ed Stewart, Junior Choice, 25th December 2014: One of the last voices to be heard on offshore station Big-L Radio London when it closed in August 1967, Ed Stewart was one of the first DJs to join BBC Radio One when it opened six weeks later. Ed Stewart sadly died in January 2016. 117 minutes.

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