Happy Birthday then, 417 London Broadcasting, the news and information voice of independent radio. And with it, four decades of modern commercial radio in the UK.

LBC was celebrating on the night of its birthday and we listened in.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHAT  LBC at 40

WHEN  8 October 2013


ID: “LBC 97.3 – Proud to serve London for 40 years,” over one of the best news jingles of all time. Nice work, IQBeats.


“And LBC 97.3 is celebrating its 40th birthday. Today LBC has its biggest audience ever …” Nice clip of Angela Rippon.

Strong open with disjointed, crackly engineering test transmissions voiced by an anonymous Northerner, weird whooping tones, and out of the static, something called the London Broadcasting Company.

Stalwart Clive Bull is the narrator.

ID: Rewind FX. 1973. LBC at 40.

… “The story of LBC Radio and some of the news events we covered .. LBC has proved we can compete and win a substantial audience for commercial radio. The playing field might be uneven, but we have over the years become a credible and award winning radio station, now with over 1.2 million listeners and our dedicated team of presenters, producers and editors make us very much the voice of London.” Did Ashley write this?

Clive then introduces the first moments, presented by David Jessell.

Talks about scurrilous rumour he was physically sick a few seconds before going on. “You just knew disaster was looming.” He doesn’t deny it! With no producers or reporters, he said bosses told him to ‘talk about interesting things that have happened that day’. Being 6am on an October day, not much had happened. “There hasn’t even been a day.”

The 3 day week that winter helped LBC – as the telly went off at 10.30.

There was a wonderful clip of “Bel Mooney’s At Home” – promising “a delicious recipe from my own private recipe book,’we review a new magazine on your bookshelves and the problems of trying to have a sex when you’re disabled”.

The first presenters came from newspapers and were all at sea when it came to broadcasting. The late Adrian Love recalls how he was brought in and offered an 8 hour phone-in.

Harry Corbett brought the mute Sooty in to be interviewed. And Bel actually says Hello to him. Thankfully Soo was there too.

LBC famously had some issues in its early days, so it’s laudable that it’s ten minutes into this doc before you hear the words ‘shaky start’.

In programming terms, we learn, it starts turning round when the BBC Today Programme’s Marshall Stuart comes in to corrall the newspaper people – and brings in Douglas Cameron, who presented AM with Bob Holness.

It was great to hear Brian Hayes tearing it up again. “If it’s worth thinking about it’s worth talking about. 353 81 11”. The memories! Big TV names appeared on air.

David Frost, briefly, and longer, Jon Snow who recalls the Balcombe Street seige of 1975. He was the only reporter able to report the end of the seige live. Other broadcasters had rented flats. LBC didn’t have the cash. “They were all living the life of Reilly drinking themselves stupid, but we were in the street, watching the balcony of the flat.” Then the archive audio, showing what a pro Snow was, even then.


This didn’t really know whether it was a news review, or a fuzzy ‘didn’t we do well?’ retrospective. No matter. It was still good to hear a bit of both.

I was 5 in 1973, so it was a few years until I discovered Dougie, Bob and Brian. Alongside the still-remarkable Sarah Ward ‘with Anna Raeburn and the Capital Doctor’, the early Ways It Is, and CFM’s Sunday splits on Capital. These were the full-service stations that sparked my interest in radio. I remember visiting LBC’s Gough Square studios as a precocious 15 year old, clutching a Marantz to interview Brian Hayes. Soon after, I signed my first contract at another pioneer of the first phase, Radio 210.

So thanks, and Happy Birthday, LBC.


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