It’s the 40th anniversary of UK commercial radio but multitude spells mediocrity. With hundreds of radio stations now broadcasting across the British Isles, it is difficult to imagine how little choice there was for UK radio listeners 40 years ago. BBC Radio nationally and locally had a domestic monopoly with no legal commercial competition at all in the early 1970s.
However the 8th October 1973 saw the launch of the first Independent Local Radio station – LBC in London. Capital Radio in London arrived shortly afterwards and BRMB in Birmingham and Piccadilly Radio in Manchester soon followed. Within a decade, over 40 stations were on air.
Commercial radio in the mid-1970s through to the end of the 1980s was really rather good. It mirrored Radio1 with versatile playlists and personality disc jockeys. My local commercial radio station in Nottingham, Radio Trent opened in 1975, with a strong line-up of disc jockeys including Jon Peters hosting the breakfast show and a young star by the name of Dale Winton, hosting the mid-morning show. These presenters had to be on their game as they were up against the very best on an established Radio1 – namely Noel Edmonds on the Radio1 breakfast show and Tony Blackburn on the Radio1 morning show!!
Like many, I fell out of love with commercial radio in the 1990s. Quantity does not mean quality. As more and more commercial radio stations have taken to the airwaves, the quality has diminished. Inventive, creative output on radio stations carrying advertisements is long gone. Commercial radio stations are all homogenised and standardised, in the same way that high streets in the UK are. More is less seemingly!! On the surface we have greater choice through larger numbers of commercial radio stations, but individualism and idiosyncrasy has been sacrificed for corporatism.
The corporate genie is out of the commercial radio station bottle and that process can never be reversed. RIP Commercial Radio!!
Do you remember when your local commercial radio station was truly independent and individualistic? If so tell us about your favourite DJs and presenters in the 1970s and 1980s in the Reply Box below.
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