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24 September 2014

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The history of BBC Radio Leicester

BBC Radio Leicester was Britain's first mainland local radio station. We launched on 08 November 1967 on 95.05VHF and on cable in certain city areas. Read on to find out more...

Our brand-new state-of-the art broadcasting centre is at St Nicholas Place in the heart of Leicester. You can hear us on our countywide transmitter on 104.9FM and on DAB, and of course, streamed on line.

We like to think that BBC Radio Leicester is still your number one choice for news, traffic, sport and information.

The beginning

The station was launched with the first local radio jingle, which was a version of the Posthorn Gallop. It was followed by a speech by the Postmaster General, the Right Hon. Edward Short.

Lord Mayor and Station manager
Sir Mark Henig and Maurice Ennals

The guests, including the Lord Mayor of Leicester and senior BBC staff from London, were greeted by a protest from members of the Free Radio Association, bemoaning the loss of the pirate stations.

Radio Leicester's first-ever news bulletin was broadcast next, compiled without any journalists as it was provided by a local news agency.

BBC's new plan

The growth of pirate radio in the 1960's prompted the BBC to draw up a new plan. This included the creation of Radio 1 and Local Radio.

Eight experimental stations opened in cities where local authorities were willing to fund part of the cost. BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Nottingham all followed Leicester onto the airwaves within a few weeks.

News breakers

Davis Nish in 1973
David Nish played for Leicester City in the 70s

At first, Radio Leicester made less than four hours of local programmes each day. Leicester City and Leicester Tigers featured on the station, but the first major challenge were the floods of 1968.

Despite limited resources, the station managed live reports from rowing boats floating down suburban streets.

Local radio success

Two years later, the local radio experiment was declared a success and BBC Radio Leicester expanded, created its own newsroom and began producing its own news.

BBC Radio Leicester launched a weekly programme for Asian listeners in 1974. In the same year, it began broadcasting on the medium wave from Freeman's Common in Leicester on 837AM, later to become the frequency for the BBC’s Asian Network.

In 1996 the BBC Asian Network was launched, a lively fully-fledged 24 hour radio service for the Asian community.


Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre
Mighty Zulu Nation performed in the Open Centre

BBC Radio Leicester stands true to its original aims of serving the communities of Leicester, Rutland and Leicestershire, listening to local people and reflecting local issues and concerns.

We talk to nearly a quarter of a million listeners every week. Have YOU joined us yet?

last updated: 02/06/06
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Radio Leicester

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