Who remembers when BBC Radio 1 first came on the air? No? Well, for many many years the station operated from 7 in the morning through to 7 in the evening. At 7 in the evening it closed down. The BBC way of closing down was, and still is, to switch to relaying another service. BBC local radio, as an example, to this day relays BBC Radio 5 Live when the stations ‘close down’.
To be honest, when BBC Radio 1 first came on it didn’t just close every evening at 7pm, it also shared some of its daytime programming with Radio 2. Well, it would combine with Radio 2 for an hour or so at a time, making the reality not exactly what it appeared, effectively ‘stretching’ its schedule by ‘sharing’ output.
In complete defence of this, the issue they had was that the Musicians’ Union wouldn’t let them play many records. A bit odd for music radio, but those were odd times, and the BBC did the best it could with its hands tied.
Then along came commercial radio.
We were amazed with commercial radio. It played records all day and all evening, not closing down at 7pm. Most closed down only between, say, 1 in the morning and 6 in the morning. In those days humanity in the UK wasn’t a 24 hours a day animal. We all went to sleep at night.
For radio fans, commercial radio was a God send. Not only did the music continue into the late evening, but also it was presented by voices we grew to know and love. These people spoke with us as we listened.
It wasn’t long before commercial radio stations were on 24 hours a day, and even had a local presenter working hard overnight. This was truly the expansion of local commercial radio to provide a tailor made service for defined geographical areas, building a loyal and strong audience.
Sigh. But that was then, and this is now.
Liverpool’s Radio City was the ninth ever commercial radio station in the UK, opening in 1974, and so is classed as a ‘heritage’ radio station. At its peak it provided 2 completely local stations 24 hours a day, with all programming coming from the one set of studios.
Today, for some completely bizarre reason, it has decided to copy the early days of BBC Radio 1. Radio City now closes down at 7pm each day. It returns at 6 the following morning.
And, like in those early days of Radio 1, Liverpool’s Radio City now just relays something else after closedown – programming from Manchester. A thriving heaving 24 hour modern city of Liverpool having to listen to stuff coming from Manchester!
Also, during the day, Radio City combines its programming with other stations for an hour or so at a time, just as Radio 1 combined with Radio 2 back in those days when it couldn’t play too many records.
Why, in 2014, some 40 years after coming on the air, Radio City’s owners have decided to desert Liverpool, it’s hard to fathom.
Doing impressions of the very early years of BBC Radio 1 is a strange development. But, hey, the owners must know best, right?