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24 September 2014

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You are in: Liverpool > BBC Radio Merseyside > More about Radio Merseyside > BBC Radio Merseyside celebrates 40 years of broadcasting

Tony Wolfe

BBC Radio Merseyside celebrates 40 years of broadcasting

BBC Radio Merseyside celebrates it's 40th birthday this November, the station launched in 1967, the third of the BBC's experimental local radio stations.

At 12.30pm on 22nd November 1967 a specially composed jingle by Gerry Marsden announced the arrival of BBC Radio Merseyside the country's third and largest local radio station.

The staff of 6LV

The staff of 6LV

BBC Radio Merseyside was one of a series of eight local stations set up in various parts of England with the stated intention of providing an intimate localised service.

However the station wasn't the BBC's first attempt at local broadcasting on Merseyside, that honour went to the 1920's station 6LV.

The crystal set era station 6LV began broadcasting on Wednesday June 11th 1924. The studio was above a cafe in Liverpool's Lord Street.

The transmitter and engineers were located on the first floor of a disused paint shop near Smithdown Road. 6LV was shortlived, transmissions came to an end in 1931 when a shortage of wavelengths forced re-organisation of radio along regional lines.

In 1967 the possibility of more local broadcasting was once more addressed, initially as a two year experiment.

Prince Charles

Prince Charles opens Paradise Street

Over the years Radio Merseyside has reflected the area's many triumphs and tragedies, from sporting successes such as Liverpool's European Cup victories to the disasters of Heysel and Hillsborough.

Broadcasting milestones have included coverage of major events - the Papal tour of 1982, two visits of the Tall ships, the International Garden Festival in 1984 and many others.

Big news stories such as the Toxteth riots, the murder of young James Bulger, and the trial of Louise Woodward have made international as well as local headlines. On each occasion Radio Merseyside has brought the news not just to its own listeners but also to other BBC radio, television and text services.

The perils of radio interviews

The perils of radio interviewing

The station is particularly proud of the reputation and rapport it enjoys with the local community, and the service it has provided at times of crisis. When the 1997 Grand National at Aintree was disrupted by a bomb hoax, thousands of racegoers were left to walk the streets. Radio Merseyside was swift to mount special programming and help stranded visitors find beds for the night.

The Merseyside Radio experiment started on the top two floors of Commerce House, an anonymous local authority building in Sir Thomas Street. But as the station developed the facilities proved increasingly inadequate.

In the winter of 1981/82 Radio Merseyside moved to the purpose built premises in Paradise Street which became its home for gathering news and producing programmes for the next 24 years.

In July 2006 the station moved once again to its new home in Hanover Street. The new glass fronted BBC building includes a street facing performance area as well as state of the art studios and production areas.

Billy Butler on top of Paradise Street building

Billy Butler on top of Paradise Street

There are additional 'inject' studios in Chester, St. Helens and Warrington.

A number of broadcasters who cut their teeth at Radio Merseyside have gone on to become well known nationally with the BBC. They include sports presenter Ray Stubbs, newsreader Sian Williams, DJ Janice Long, and 'Top Gear's' Michele Moran.

BBC Radio Merseyside's editorial area embraces the whole of Merseyside (Liverpool, Bootle, Birkenhead, Southport, St.Helens etc.) much of North Cheshire (Chester, Warrington, Runcorn, Widnes, Ellesmere Port) and West Lancashire (Skelmersdale, Orrell, Burscough, Ormskirk).

The station can be heard further afield, notably in North Wales, the Isle of Man and Ireland. In freak reception conditions we have been heard as far away as Scandinavia and Canada!

last updated: 21/11/07

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