British Radio

In October last year ambitious proposals to modernise BBC local services were set out to boost online provision for 43 areas across the country, enhance local audio services on BBC Sounds and create a new network of investigative reporters.

In order to achieve the changes, greater programme sharing outside of peak hours on local radio was proposed. Now, following feedback from staff and audiences, adjustments have been made to increase the number of afternoon and weekend programmes across the BBC’s 39 local stations.

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Shutdown of 1215am

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Sad to see 1215am go. I remember it well on my first trip to the UK in 1997 as Virgin 1215. Loved the broad classic rock format and style of the station. But I was mostly excited the station could be heard across the country as I drove around. A true national commercial station! The reception did struggle in some regions and at night, but the Brits seemed ok with that. The other station I noticed the locals embraced in western England and Wales was Atlantic 252 on Long Wave! I couldn’t believe Long Wave receivers were in cars!

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It’s amazing that Absolute Radio lasted for so long on 1215 kHz really. In latter years I’d venture the MW signal would have been mainly used by expats living in continental Europe, similar to 198 LW for BBC Radio 4 (another one marked for closure).

At least there is still the (superior, imo) Radio Caroline on 648 kHz, though apparently it’s only strong in the Benelux countries and probably coastal France.

They’d talked about wanting to exit AM for some time - it also took some time to get approval to exit too.

Will be interesting to see what happens from here with the spectrum too - will it be resold or not? I saw a stat recently that AM accounts for single-digit listening percentages while accounting for a third of the industry’s energy costs. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to go back to market, but regulators rarely make decisions that make sense.

If history is any guide then there may well be someone wishing to ‘jump in the grave’ so to speak. I think 1215 kHz was a BBC frequency originally?

I wonder if Radio Caroline will do it? That would be nice to see- and hear. Though I don’t think they are exactly flush with cash being mostly volunteer run and supporter funded; it would need to be offered at bargain basement level.

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I can’t speak with any certainty given that I didn’t make my arrival onto this planet until 2001, but are there’s a chance that you went through some areas where Virgin 1215 wasn’t actually on 1215kHz. Whilst the main transmitters were on 1215kHz, there was a large collection of lower power facilities to fill in the gaps with frequencies ranging from 1197 to 1260kHz.

I wouldn’t completely write off another station swooping in and making use of the spectrum, but I highly doubt it. As you say, it’s high cost and low reward. None of the big broadcasters will probably want it, so if anyone took it, it’d likely be Premier Christian Radio or some sort of new station.

As I said though, highly unlikely.

Yes, it was originally a BBC frequency. 1214kHz was originally used as for filling in coverage gaps for the BBC Light Programme that the 200kHz transmitters didn’t fully cover. In 1967, the Light Programme was split off into Radio 1 & Radio 2. Radio 2 took the 200kHz transmitters, with Radio 1 taking the 1214kHz.

Following on from the Geneva Frequency Plan of 1975, Radio 1 moved to 1053 & 1089kHz in 1978, with 1214kHz becoming 1215kHz being used by BBC Radio 3. Then in 1990, the Broadcasting Act paved the way for BBC Radio 1 & BBC Radio 3 to be booted off AM to be replaced in “Independent National Radio”. Space was also opened up on FM at this time, allowing for three INR stations:

  • INR 1 was taken by Classic FM, which launched in 1992 on 99.9-101.9FM.
  • INR 2 was won by Virgin 1215, and launched in 1993 on 1197-1260kHz.
  • INR 3 was claimed by Talk Radio UK (now TalkSPORT), launching in 1995 on 1053-1107kHz.

Anyway… I originally came here to post a static free version of the closedown of 1215 which someone managed to capture from the transmitter satellite link.

Yes I recall using 1197 in some areas where 1215 was patchy. Although even when 1215 was the strongest signal in some places it still suffered fading at night.

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I’m surprised no one here as tried this model

It’s risky - could turn people off if they are hearing the same adverts for the entire show, day after day

That’s where Virgin have been clever - there are very few ads - it’s selected segments that are sponcon (so for instance when they talked about shows on tv they were sky shows, Graeme Norton has a similar deal with Waitrose and they do a cooking segment)

It’s not hard when you listen to spot the sponcon either - they don’t exactly hide it

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The BBC has removed the ability for listeners to hear its radio stations in Radioplayer – the platform it jointly owns with Global, Bauer and Radiocentre.

Instead, anyone wanting to listen to a BBC station inside Radioplayer is now told the service is no longer available and an external app must be used to continue.

Listeners wanting to continue are then taken to BBC Sounds and forced to create an account or sign in to listen.

It’s a significant move for Radioplayer, following Global and Bauer also abandoning the service as a default listening platform. Bauer has never directed listeners to Radioplayer, whilst Global introduced its own Global Player in 2017.

The BBC distribution strategy now requires third party apps like Radioplayer to deep-link to BBC Sounds for playback, or remove BBC stations entirely.

All BBC, Global and Bauer services are still listed in Radioplayer, but it is no longer the default player for any of them.