The new look in radio
13 Mar 2017 1 comment. tbs.pm/11179
From the Radio Times published 27 August 1964
Russ J Graham
Developments of major importance are impending in Sound Broadcasting. This weekend the BBC is introducing the first step in the most ambitious programme of expansion to be undertaken since domestic radio began in Britain forty-two years ago. In four stages, spread over a period of six months or so, the output of the Light Programme and the Third Network will be increased by as much as ninety-four hours a week, and the variety of choice offered in radio, particularly in the daytime, will be immensely extended.
The Light Programme, which already finds a welcome from almost a million and a half listeners when it comes on the air at 6.30 a.m., is to start an hour earlier to serve the large numbers of people who have to get up extremely early in the mornings. At the other end of the day it is to remain on the air for two hours after midnight to provide for night-shift and other workers, late-night motorists and lorry drivers, and people generally who are up in the small hours and who until now have been obliged to turn to foreign stations for a little broadcast entertainment.
The Third Network has for too long been silent during the daytime hours — the hours in which radio enjoys its peak audiences. Under the new plan the Network will fill this valuable airspace with a service of good music in which symphonic music, chamber music, recitals, choral music, ballet music, opera, operetta, and the best of orthodox light music (and my list of categories is still far from complete) will all find a place. Radio services of this kind are already well established in a number of other countries. We believe that this daily festival of broadcast music will be warmly received in Britain.
An extension of these dimensions, a one-third increase in output from 280 hours to 374 hours each week, calls for a gigantic effort from planners, producers, studio and administrative staffs and engineers alike, as well as from performers and broadcasters. That is why the extension is being introduced in stages. Stage one, from this weekend, will see the new music service offered in the Third Network every Sunday, and the Light Programme starting earlier in the morning every day. In stage two, from September 26, the Light Programme will be extended at the other end, from midnight to 2 a.m. Stage three will be introduced on December 12, when the Third Network will provide its music on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The final stage, in March, will complete the operation by filling in the remaining hours of the Third Network.
Fifteen hours or so of the Light Programme’s 20½-hour broadcasting day will be of gay and cheerful music, suited to the general character of the Programme. About 4½ hours of this music will come from gramophone records. The BBC’s quota of needle-time allows only this relatively small ration of records for the Light Programme, and this fact will perhaps reassure those who fear that the Light is going all-pop. Current popular numbers will of course be much heard, but they will not predominate.
Alongside this copious output of musical entertainment the Light Programme will retain its popular radio plays and serials, its comedy shows, Woman’s Hour, Radio Newsreel, and other established features. But the Home Service, which will be transferring some of its daytime music to the Third Network, will be taking over a few regular items from the Light, ranging from Down Your Way and Chapel in the Valley (a new series) to the Sunday morning Archers Omnibus and, from next week, Listen with Mother. We hope listeners will soon find their way about in this minor reshuffle.
The Home Service, too, will be introducing new projects of its own. Flanked by the Light and its constant flow of easy entertainment, and by the Third Network consistently offering more serious music, the Home in the daytime will mainly become the channel for those listeners who seek something other than music. Its assembly of topical magazines, talks, news and current affairs programmes, sport, plays, features, school and further education broadcasts and regional items will provide the solid central core of a total three-network programme service which in range, balance, and quality will, we believe, be incomparable in the world.
Frank Gillard, BBC Director of Sound Broadcasting
Highlights of the New Service
Today sees the start of the Music Programme in the Third Network which by next Spring will be broadcasting serious music daily from early morning until early evening. Initially the programme will be confined to Sundays, but by Christmas it will be on the air on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with many programmes which, we trust, will prove both exciting and popular.
Meanwhile, what are the immediate highlights? One new programme is Music Diary. Each Sunday it will draw attention to interesting forthcoming musical occasions throughout the country, and many leading composers and performers will be talking in this programme. Music Diary will not be about broadcast events; it is intended to provide a widespread weekly survey of music-making in Britain and may, of course, be of particular interest to listeners living near the scenes of these events.
Apart from new features such as Music Diary and an important chamber music broadcast in the early afternoon, listeners to the Music Programme on Sundays will find many of their favourite programmes hitherto broadcast in the Home Service or Third Network such as Your Concert Choice, Talking about Music and the Sunday Symphony Concert. Music Magazine — taking its usual summer holiday — is temporarily absent.
Two of today’s highlights are undoubtedly the lunchtime orchestral concert of music by Bach and Mozart and the broadcast from the Edinburgh International Festival of the Schubert and Beethoven recital being given by the distinguished Austrian pianist, Rudolf Serkin. During the interval of this recital The Earl of Harewood will be talking about his plans for the future of the Edinburgh Festival.
Next Sunday we shall be ranging even further afield to Ottobeuren in the heart of Bavaria to relay what promises to he a notable performance of Britten’s War Requiem.