A force to be reckoned with – the growth of LBC and IRN

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July 11, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Throughout the mid-20th century the airwaves were dominated by the British Institution know as the BBC.

Whether it was television or radio, the Corporation were leading the way.

Ron Onions learnt a lot through his time working for them.  He spearheaded much-loved shows; covered both the heartbreaking stories and those which kept people in awe.  But this man who became the first News Organiser for the BBC in New York, transmitting coverage of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy as well as the Apollo Moon Landing, was soon to become the BBC’s nemesis.

Following his successes in the United States of America, Onions returned home in 1973.  Faced with the prospect of a desk job, he left the Corporation and headed into independent radio.  It was during this time Onions became a legend in his own right.



Just one year with Capital Radio and he set up an extensive news service.  March 1974 he headed to news-based current affairs station LBC.

There he attempted to bring the station and Independent Radio News to the forefront of the industry.

This was to be achieved by introducing a sustainable news service which could be trusted and match the quality, if not exceed, that of the BBC.

Although IRN were growing during the 1970s, it was the Falklands War in 1982 which highlighted how far they had come.  The Foreign Office at the time was reluctant to allow an IRN reporter to head to the front-lines, preferring instead the tried-and-tested BBC.  Ron Onions was not going to give in and eventually they were given the go-ahead.

These brave reporters not only matched the reports of the BBC but excelled in their duties.  The experience Onions had gained during his time in America – the differing styles of news reporting – was evident in the reports these journalists were providing and the way they were aired.

These reports became ‘personal’ and when broadcast back home they highlighted the fact that these were actual ‘people’ who were reporting from the Falklands.

News bulletins within the studio were not the traditional ‘announcer’ stating the latest headlines.  Instead they were short, sharp, snappy reporting.  A trust was formed between the reader and the listener.

Such was the popularity of this new style of broadcast that the BBC was faced with the necessity of changing their own way of doing things to stay in touch with current trend.

Ron Onions was a pioneer of news broadcasting.  He had a vision, a way to bring news to the everyday man.  You would not be ‘spoken to’ but included. Onions has been described as a driving force, a revolutionary, and someone who ‘broke the mould’.

Read more about his remarkable life in the book ‘Don’t Bring Lulu’ – his final act co-written with his family.


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