Studios at transmitter sites...?

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Paul Hayes
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Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

Does anyone know if it was ever likely or possible that the BBC would have had radio contributor studios of some sort located at transmitter sites?

I ask as, for a documentary I'm working on, I'm trying to establish a rough timeline of the BBC's presence in East Anglia. I know that the regional HQ in Norwich at All Saints Green was opened on September 10th 1956. But there is some anecdotal evidence (somewhat second-hand, I must admit) that prior to this there was some sort of contributor studio at the Postwick transmitting station, which opened in 1947.

Obviously there may be a definitive answer to this buried somewhere in Caversham, and it's possible I may find some reference to it in the files I have asked them about to hopefully go and see during my research, but I wondered if this sort of thing was talked about / known of for any other transmitter sites?

Or is it likely to be either nonsense, or someone misremembering something...?

Mark T
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Mark T »

At the risk of telling you to suck eggs, have you gone through the old BBC Yearbooks? They often had transmitter information in and talked about the technical side of things...

...blimey, just Googled them and found someone has scanned them all in - here http://www.americanradiohistory.com/BBC ... ge_Key.htm

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

Mark T wrote:At the risk of telling you to suck eggs, have you gone through the old BBC Yearbooks? They often had transmitter information in and talked about the technical side of things...

...blimey, just Googled them and found someone has scanned them all in - here http://www.americanradiohistory.com/BBC ... ge_Key.htm
Ooo, that's a good idea I hadn't thought of at all! I've only ever seen a couple of the Yearbooks and hadn't thought about them containing that sort of information... A very good idea, thank you!

TonyCurrie
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by TonyCurrie »

It certainly wasn't unknown for that to happen. There was for many years a fully operational radio studio at the Kirk o'Shotts transmitter in Central Scotland that was built for emergencies.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

TonyCurrie wrote:It certainly wasn't unknown for that to happen. There was for many years a fully operational radio studio at the Kirk o'Shotts transmitter in Central Scotland that was built for emergencies.
Interesting to know that it's not a completely impossible idea - thanks Tony!

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stearn
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by stearn »

Quoting BBC Engineering 1922-72, Pawley, pp331/2:

A new site was acquired at Postwick, five miles east of Norwich, for a new medium-power medium-wave transmitter to improve the Midland Home Service in that part of East Anglia. The Postwick station went into service on 1013kHz on 19 June 1949.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

stearn wrote:Quoting BBC Engineering 1922-72, Pawley, pp331/2:

A new site was acquired at Postwick, five miles east of Norwich, for a new medium-power medium-wave transmitter to improve the Midland Home Service in that part of East Anglia. The Postwick station went into service on 1013kHz on 19 June 1949.
Interesting - the Times also has the 1949 date, so the 1947 I'd seen elsewhere must have been an error. Cheers!

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Post by Bernie »

Mark T wrote: ...blimey, just Googled them and found someone has scanned them all in - here http://www.americanradiohistory.com/BBC ... ge_Key.htm
On the 1969 front cover, that's Ron Green on Immorality Inc - a wiped Out of the Unknown.

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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by JezR »

The 1950 BBC Yearbook indicates that there was an 'East Anglia Week' to coincide with the opening of Postwick. I guess on the Midland Home Service.

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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Scary »

TonyCurrie wrote:It certainly wasn't unknown for that to happen. There was for many years a fully operational radio studio at the Kirk o'Shotts transmitter in Central Scotland that was built for emergencies.
The Channel Islands TV bulletin used to come from a studio in the transmitter building

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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

JezR wrote:The 1950 BBC Yearbook indicates that there was an 'East Anglia Week' to coincide with the opening of Postwick. I guess on the Midland Home Service.
Yes, the Midland region did a few of these, presumably as a nod to the fact they also covered East Anglia. One of them even got a regional Radio Times cover variant.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

Scary wrote:
TonyCurrie wrote:It certainly wasn't unknown for that to happen. There was for many years a fully operational radio studio at the Kirk o'Shotts transmitter in Central Scotland that was built for emergencies.
The Channel Islands TV bulletin used to come from a studio in the transmitter building
Is that the case? I thought they used to have to pre-record it and then drive the tape up to the transmitter?

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stearn
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Post by stearn »

I've now had a chance to check my Radio Times and it is interesting that it states that the transmitter has actually started operation 10 days before the 'official' opening - not unusual, but annoying when tracking down correct dates. I suspect the 1947 date was actually a misreading of the newspaper article on the mb21 website (it doesn't state which newspaper) as far as I can see, and it is a poor microfilm copy that doesn't help. I'm guessing that the chocolate factory was Caley's - regular advertisers within the Radio Times (with their Caley tray, with gooseberry soft centre - not something I would be rushing to buy if they were still in business - the name has been revived, but it isn't the original company).

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

stearn wrote:I've now had a chance to check my Radio Times and it is interesting that it states that the transmitter has actually started operation 10 days before the 'official' opening - not unusual, but annoying when tracking down correct dates. I suspect the 1947 date was actually a misreading of the newspaper article on the mb21 website (it doesn't state which newspaper) as far as I can see, and it is a poor microfilm copy that doesn't help. I'm guessing that the chocolate factory was Caley's - regular advertisers within the Radio Times (with their Caley tray, with gooseberry soft centre - not something I would be rushing to buy if they were still in business - the name has been revived, but it isn't the original company).
Thanks Stearn. Interesting little clipping! Sadly I'm unable to check RTs for research myself at the moment as the internal version of Genome isn't currently available, so it's kind of you to post this. You'd think a piece of this nature might mention if there were a studio on the site, but I suppose it doesn't absolutely preclude it.

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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Scary »

Paul Hayes wrote: Is that the case? I thought they used to have to pre-record it and then drive the tape up to the transmitter?
No, they had a little studio in an old garage there. The only reference I can find is on an old uk..tech.broadcast thread: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... LoxjrTn1ws

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stearn
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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by stearn »

Genome wouldn't be much use as it only covers the London edition*, this is from a Midland region edition. I too would have thought it would mention a studio if there had been one, but a studio could simply have been a cupboard with a few switches and a microphone in. It is worth finding out whether it was possible to site a studio within the transmitter hall, the largest structure on any transmitter site, due to noise, interference and heat.

Kirk O'Shotts was built as a TV transmitter, so different considerations would probably have been in place than just for radio. Tony might have better knowledge.





*Editions produced for distribution in the London area, which includes National, Southern, England, and odd editions of other regions where they were the only ones produced.

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Post by TonyCurrie »

IIRC by the time they were building Shotts, they knew that it would also be a VHF radio site, so it's probable that the radio studio was always factored in. It's adjacent to what was the transmitter hall.

A good few years back, my company (Radio Six Ltd) bid for the (first) Central Scotland commercial radio licence with proposals for a news station that would have been similar to LBC (and indeed LBC were in for about 18% of our equity). Our plan was to base our station at KoS, thus instantly eliminating the cost (and reliability factor) of programme links. It also meant we would have avoided being branded as either a Glasgow or Edinburgh station and would have been able to use the mast for receiving links from radio cars. The building was almost completely empty at the time and the BBC (who still owned it then) were dead keen to lease it all to us. It had excellent access, a decent car park, a nice grass surround (where we held board meetings!), and a garage to store radio cars. The existence of a properly constructed, acoustically-treated radio studio was icing on the cake.

Sadly the Radio Authority were leaned on by Margaret Thatcher who (I later learned) had expressed disquiet about the Scots being given a voice. So they gave the licence to a consortium formed by Border and Grampian TV. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scot_FM for the sad tale of what happened next).

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Re: Studios at transmitter sites...?

Post by Paul Hayes »

stearn wrote:Genome wouldn't be much use as it only covers the London edition*, this is from a Midland region edition.
Ah, I see - well, thank you even more, then!

I have had a claim from another source now that there was indeed a studio at Postwick, although this was still anecdotal.

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Post by Paul Hayes »

Bit of an update:

Yesterday I recorded a fascinating interview with Dick Robinson, who was the first producer of East Anglian radio bulletins at the BBC in Norwich from March 1958. Unbidden, he told me that prior to the opening of the BBC studios, contributors and freelance reporters had gone to the "engineer's office" at Postwick to broadcast.

I'm going to Caversham for a couple of days next month, and among the files I've ordered up at the early ones on the Postwick transmitting station, so hopefully I should be able to get a bit more detail.

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Post by Paul Hayes »

Some of you may be interested to know that the practical upshot of my obscure questions, a documentary called "The Network That Never Was", is going out on the coming Bank Holiday Monday, the 28th:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05bxjl6

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