BBC Radio 4

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September 30, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Radio entertainment nowadays tends to consist heavily of music-based programmes with light chatter to break up constant tunes.  One station which dares to be different is BBC Radio 4.  Owned and run by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio 4 shifts the pattern away from music – and indeed sport (test cricket having been the exception in the past)- preferring instead to entertain and educate through spoken word.  It’s programming covers a range of areas from news through to comedy; debates; historical and scientific documentaries.  ‘Today’, ‘World at One’, ‘Woman’s Hour’, ‘The Archers’, ‘Desert Island Discs’ are just some of the household names to be associated with this station.

The name ‘Radio 4’ came to life in 1967, having been the ‘BBC Home Service’ from 1939. The daytime programming begins at 5.20am, with a 5-minute composition by Fritz Spiegl entitled ‘Radio 4 UK Theme’. It ends the day with the National Anthem before handing broadcasting back to the BBC World Service for just over 4 hours. The Greenwich Time Pips and the chimes of Big Ben are sacrosanct features.

The shipping forecast is a must-listen item for anyone taking to the water and in times of emergencies, BBC Radio 4 has a very important role to play. It is the station that will live on should there be a time when all other stations are forced to end their broadcasts. This has given rise to a little piece of history, still being debated today, surrounding its role during the Cold War.

It is thought that if submariners could no longer receive BBC Radio 4 then they were to open their sealed orders which may have led to the launch of nuclear strikes, believing London had first been the subject of such an attack.  The station has changed its’  broadcast schedules in past years during times of need. In the Gulf War 1991 Radio 4’s FM frequency no longer aired the regular programmes (still played on long wave), instead it adapted to become a rolling news service, nicknamed ‘Scud FM’. Even today, when news/education/entertainment is available at ease through a number of mediums, broadcast figures reveal the continuing popularity of BBC Radio 4.


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