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The history of Hull's first radio station
BBC Studios
The first BBC studios in Hull's Bishop Lane

Many people think of local radio as a recent development. BBC and commercial stations began springing up in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, local broadcasting has an almost forgotten history which stretches back as far as the 1920s.

The British Broadcasting Company, as it was then, began transmissions in 1922. The organisation was set-up to bring together the scattering of small commercial operations and amateur enthusiast who had taken to the airways in the early 1920s.

One of the main aims was to standardise broadcasting equipment and encourage sales of home wireless sets.

The BBC set up studios in Savoy Hill in London and began broadcasts on the 2LO transmitter based in the centre of the capital.

One problem was that the transmitter was not powerful enough to reach the whole of the UK. The BBC began to build a series of relay stations to cover the whole of the country.

Peter Lord is a local broadcasting historian. He said that not everybody was happy with the idea of handing power to the regions. The biggest opposition was from the BBC's first director general, the autocratic John Reith:

Peter Lord
Local historian Peter Lord has written about local broadcasting in Hull

"He was quite happy to let the regions get on with the job, providing they knew how far to go. And he felt that, with all these relays scattered around and about, he probably thought they were a bit on the amateur side, which was far from the truth. That they were going to prove a little bit more popular than what London was transmitting on the 2LO transmitter."

The Hull station started on 15 August 1924 using the call sign 6KH.

The station had studios in Bishop Lane in Hull's Old Town. The transmitter was a 200-watt affair, mounted on a high building in the industrial area of Wimcomlee.

As well as providing a relay of London material the station used to broadcast many hours of its own programmes.

Local shows included talks and lectures, gardening discussions, sports commentaries, children's shows and light music from the bands that played in local cafes, such as the Powolny's Restaurant Bijou Orchestra and the Hammond's Café Trio.

The station would join London in the evening for big band music, comedy and dramas.

As wireless technology improved the BBC began building more powerful relays that covered a wider area.

Radio Studio
A typical BBC local radio studio from 1927

Local programming was scaled back during 1927, leaving just local news. The end came on the evening of 31 October 1928 when the newsreader signed-off after the last bulletin with, "goodnight and goodbye".

The transmitter itself continued on for a few more years, carrying a relay of broadcasting from Manchester. It was replaced by a new high-power mast near Huddersfield in 1931.

The area had to wait another 40 years for the rebirth of local radio. BBC Radio Humberside was launched on 25 February 1971.

19 Aug 02 |  Radio Newsroom



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