BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4

Infobox Radio Station
name = BBC Radio 4

city = London
area = flagicon|United Kingdom UK - National
branding =
slogan =
airdate = 30 September 1967
frequency = FM: 92 MHz - 96 MHz,
103.5 - 104.9 MHz
LW: 198 kHz
MW: various
DAB: 12B
Freeview: 704
Freesat: 704 (FM), 710 (LW)
Sky: 0104 (FM), 0143 (LW)
Virgin Media: 904 (FM), 911 (LW)
Tiscali TV: 604
UPC Ireland: 910
[ Internet: Streaming Audio] Real/WM
share = 12.2%
share as of = March 2008
share source = []
format = News & Speech
power =
erp =
class =
callsign_meaning =
owner = BBC,
BBC Radio
website = [ BBC Radio 4]

BBC Radio 4 is a domestic UK radio station that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. [ History of the BBC: 1960s] ]


Radio 4 is the second most popular British domestic radio station, after Radio 2, and was named "UK Radio Station of the Year" at the 2003, 2004 and 2008 Sony Radio Academy Awards. [ [ The Sony Radio Academy Awards: Winners 2004] ] [ [ Sony Radio Academy Awards - Winners 2008 ] ] Costing £71.4 million (2005/6), [ [ BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2005/2006, page 106] ] it is the BBC's most expensive national radio network and is considered by many to be the corporation's flagship. There is currently no comparable UK commercial network (nor any internationally), although Channel 4 had plans to launch its own speech-based station in autumn 2007. [ Rivals talk of challenging Radio 4] ] Updateneed|date=September 2008

The controller of Radio 4 is Mark Damazer. The previous controller was Helen Boaden, who is now the head of BBC News. The most controversial controller in recent years was James Boyle, nicknamed "McBirt" for his support of the BBCs former Director-General, John Birt.

Music and sport are the only fields that largely fall outside the station's remit. There are occasional concerts, and ball-by-ball commentaries of most test matches played by England cricket are broadcast on long-wave. Because the long-wave service can be received clearly at sea around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, Radio 4 carries regular weather forecasts for shipping and gale warnings. [ [ Met Office Shipping Forecast key] ] The station has also been designated as the UK's national broadcaster in times of national emergency such as a war: if all other radio stations were forced to close, Radio 4 would still carry on broadcasting.

The station is available on FM, LW, MW (in some areas), DAB, Digital TV (including Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media), and on the Internet.


The BBC Home Service was the predecessor of Radio 4 and broadcast between 1939 and 1967. It had regional variations and was broadcast on medium wave with a network of VHF FM transmitters being added from 1955 onwards. Radio 4 replaced the Home Service on 30 September 1967, when the BBC renamed many of its domestic radio stations., and moved to long wave in 1978, taking over the 200 kHz frequency previously held by Radio Two, later moved to 198 kHz as a result of international agreements aimed at avoiding interference. It was replaced on FM between 17 January 1991 and 2 March 1991 by the continuous Gulf War news service.

Programmes and schedules

Daily schedule

The night-time feed from the BBC World Service ends at 0520, with a brief introduction from the early shift continuity announcer. The five-minute "Radio 4 UK Theme" (composed by Fritz Spiegl) used to follow this, but was dropped in April 2006 after 33 years in favour of an extension to the early news bulletin, [ [ Press release: New early morning schedule for Radio 4] ] [ [ UK Theme to be dropped by Radio 4] ] despite some public opposition [ [ Today: The UK Theme] ] and a campaign to save it. [ [] ] After a continuity link and programme trail there is a shipping forecast, weather reports from coastal stations for 0400GMT and inshore waters forecasts, followed at 0530 by a news bulletin, a review of British and international newspapers, and a business report. On weekdays, "Farming Today", which deals with news of relevance to the agricultural sector, is followed by the "Today" programme from 0600 to 0900. On or after the hour, a news bulletin is broadcast — this is sometimes a two-minute summary, a longer piece as part of a current affairs programme, or a 30-minute broadcast on weekdays at 1800 and midnight.

At 1200, FM has a four-minute bulletin while long wave has the headlines and then the "Shipping Forecast"; for the same reason, long wave leaves "PM" on weekdays at 1754.

There is a news programme or bulletin (depending on the day) at 2200. The midnight news is followed on weekdays by a repeat of "Book of the Week". The tune "Sailing By" is played until 0048, when the late shipping forecast is broadcast. Radio 4 ends with the national anthem, "God Save the Queen", and the World Service takes over from 0100 until 0520.

An online schedule page lists the running order of programmes. [ [ Radio 4 Daily Schedule page] ]


Many Radio 4 programmes are pre-recorded. Programmes transmitted live include daily programmes such as "Today", magazine programme "Woman's Hour", consumer affairs programme "You and Yours", and (often) the music, film, books, arts and culture programme "Front Row". Continuity is generally managed from BBC Broadcasting House whilst news bulletins, including the hourly summaries and longer programmes such as the "Six O'Clock News" and "Midnight News", and news programmes such as "Today", "The World at One" and "PM" come from the BBC News Centre at Television Centre in White City. They were moved there in 1998 when the News Centre was opened to house both radio and TV news. [ [ BBC Annual Report and Accounts 1998-1999] ] News is due to return to Broadcasting House in 2008. [ [ New era for Broadcasting House] ]

The Greenwich Time Signal, known as 'the pips', is usually broadcast every hour to herald the news bulletin.


Radio 4 is distinguished by its long-running programmes, many of which have been broadcast for well over 20 years.

Most programmes are available for a week after broadcast as streaming audio from Radio 4's "listen again" page [ [ Radio 4: Listen Again] ] and via BBC iPlayer. A selection of programmes is also available as podcasts or downloadable audio files. [ [ Radio 4 - Downloading and Podcasting] ] .

Many comedy and drama programmes from the Radio 4 archives are rebroadcast on BBC 7.It is common for a comedy programme to be broadcast at 6: 30 p.m. on Radio Four. On Maundy Thursday 2008, a one-off comedy programme was broadcast during this slot (sometimes called "the comedy slot") entitled "Radio Four - This is Your Life". This programme began with a light-hearted satirical comment on the nature of Radio Four listeners, by saying that the first ever programme on Radio Four was Feedbackwith Roger Bolton.

Continuity announcers and newsreaders

Announcers link programmes and read trails for programmes and for the Shipping Forecast. Newsreaders read hourly summaries and longer bulletins. [ [ "Being a newsreader" by Harriet Cass] ] [ [ List of BBC Radio newsreaders] ]

Senior Announcers
*Chris Aldridge
*Harriet Cass

Newsreaders / Continuity Announcers
*Alice Arnold
*Carolyn Brown
*Kathy Clugston
*Corrie Corfield
*Charlotte Green
*Annie McKie
*Rory Morrison
*Susan Rae
*Neil Sleat

Newsreaders (non-"Today" programme) / Continuity Announcers
*Charles Carroll
*David Miles
*Vaughan Savidge
*Alan Smith
*Zebedee 'Zeb' Soanes

Newsreaders (non-"Today" programme)
*Peter Donaldson
*Brian Perkins

Continuity Announcers
*Peter Jefferson
*Jim Lee

*Neil Nunes
*Howard Philpot
*Diana Speed

Former staff
*David Anderson (left to senior management, but covered during the May '05 strike)
*Edward Cole
*Andrew Crawford
*Caroline Nicholls (left July 2007)
*Alison Rooper (left 2005)
*Astley Jones (left 2006)
*Pennie Latin (left 11/04)
*Patrick Muirhead (left 9/04)
*Laurie Macmillan (died 10/01)
*Andy Rushton (Test Match Special announcer 1998 - June 2007)
*Moira Stuart (left 1981 to TV)
*Anna Hill (left ~2000)
*Clive Roslin (left ~1990)

Frequencies and other means of reception

Radio 4 is broadcast on: [ [ Ways of Listening to Radio 4] ]
*92-95 MHz FM
**95.8 MHz in central Scotland
**96 MHz in Greater Belfast [ BBC analogue broadcast frequencies] ]
**103-104.5 MHz in parts of Wales and on 103.6 MHz in the Inverness area
*198 kHz longwave
*Medium wave in some areas:
**720 kHz in London and Northern Ireland
**1449 kHz in Aberdeen and North East Scotland
**standard FM content
**subsidiary LW content, where applicable
*Freeview channel 704 (FM only) [ [ BBC Radio 4 on Freeview] ]
*the Internet
** [ Radio 4 FM live]
** [ Radio 4 LW live]
*Digital satellite:
**Radio 4 FM:
***Freesat channel 704
***Sky channel 0104 [ Free Channels on the Sky Digital Satellite Platform] ]
**Radio 4 LW:
***Freesat channel 710
***Sky channel 0143
*Virgin Media channel 904 (FM), channel 911 (LW)
*selected other cable television providers
**UPC Ireland channel 910 in Ireland
*Tiscali TV channel 604


There have been criticisms voiced by members of the British public and in newspapers in recent years over a perceived "left-wing" bias at Radio 4 across a range of issues such as the EU and the Iraq War [ [ Is Radio 4 alienating its core audience? - Telegraph ] ] [ [ BBC report damns its ‘culture of bias’ - Times Online ] ] [ [ BBC is given EU ‘bias’ rap | The Sun |HomePage|News|EU Referendum ] ] [ [ The BBC's commitment to bias is no laughing matter - Telegraph ] ] , as well as sycophancy in interviews, particularly on the popular morning news magazine "Today" [ [ BBC Bias ] ] [ [ Stephen Pollard: I don't want bias with my cornflakes - Commentators, Opinion - ] ] [ [ BBC radio 4 "Today" bias ] ] , as part of a reported perception of a general "malaise" at the BBC.

Accusations of institutionalised groupthink have been reported on the Radio 4 "Feedback" programme. People have also complained about a perceived prejudice towards "left-wing" comedy shows, such as "The News Quiz" and "The Now Show". They see this 'prejudice' as evidence that Radio 4 tends to favour broadcasting comedy that promotes a particular world view, rather than comedy which is broadcast purely for its humorous qualities.

See also

*Radio 4 UK Theme
*ABC Radio National


Further reading

*Elmes, Simon "And Now on Radio 4", 2007, Random House
*Hendy, David "Life on Air: A History of Radio Four", 2007, Oxford University Press
*cite news | last =Mullen| first =L| coauthors =| title =20 things you didn’t know about Radio 4| work =TV & Radio| pages =| language =| publisher =The Times| date =2007-09-29| url =| accessdate =2007-10-02

External links

*|id=radio4|title=BBC Radio 4
*|id=radio4/newsletter|title=BBC Radio 4 Newsletter
* [ Last.FM: BBC Radio 4 group]
* [ Index of Radio 4 programmes about usability and design]
* [ Pilgrimage to the Pips] : A Radio 4 Announcers' Charity Walk

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