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Radio 1 - Bournmouth and Poole

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The following article appeared in The Daily Mail on 18th December 2014

By David Porter

Question:  Why did Radio One have a separate frequency for Bournmouth, Poole and surrounding areas?


Following the enactment of the Marine etc Offences Act on August 14th 1967, which silenced the Pop Pirates, the BBC had been tasked by the Government to provide a replacement.

Spare, available Medium Wave channels to carry the new service were at a premium so the solution was to create from what had been the Light Programme's outlet on MW, The BBC Popular Music Programme (the working title, within the BBC, prior to the official naming of Radio One) on 247 metres (1214 kHz).

Before the start of Radio One this frequency had been used by the BBC to provide the Light Programme to parts of the country, (Home Counties, Yorks/Lancs, N. Ireland, Scotland) unserved by the 1500 m Long Wave Light Programme service transmitted from Droitwich in Worcestershire.

With the changes after 30th September 1967 Long Wave was now Radio Two and a 30 kW MW transmitter at Droitwich was brought into service for Radio One on 247m to cover the English Midland counties. Also to cover the South West and South Wales a 60 kW transmitter was switched on at Washford, Somerset.

With these powerful extra transmitters all being on 247 m there were populated areas in England where they interfered with each other with Gloucester, Luton, Nottingham and Bournemouth being particularly badly affected.

During the 1950's the BBC, at the request of the Govt., had installed a number of standby, low power MW stations to serve major conurbations and these were to give emergency information for Civil Defence in the event of a nuclear attack They were known as Deferred Facility, DF sites and usually had a pair of BBC-modified, wartime American 250 Watt transmitters on either 188m, 202m or 206m. (1594, 1484 or 1457 kHz)

By the late 1960's these DF sites were virtually redundant and so with many complaints about the poor quality service on 247m the decision was taken to use this site to provide a Radio One service for Bournemouth and Poole on 202m, 1484 kHz.

The DF site at Bournemouth was adjacent to a graveyard and some of the buried earth wires for the antenna system went through into the cemetery!

So why did Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding area feature on the announcements? Probably because one of the leading Radio 1 DJ's at the time, Tony Blackburn, hailed from Bournemouth and was keen to mention his home town...

This situation continued until the Europe-wide wavelength changes on 23rd November 1978 when at last a dual channel, high power service was commissioned on 275 / 285 (1053 / 1089 kHz) for Radio One to properly cover the entire country. It was not until the late 1980's that Radio One was available on VHF/FM in stereo.

Many of the DF sites became MW stations for BBC Local Radio in the 1970s and into the 1980s so they were not wasted. Some, for example, Gloucester, Sheffield and Shrewsbury continue to host BBC and Independent Local and National outlets even now.

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