BBC Radio 4

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BBC Radio 4
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{{About|the British radio station owned and operated by the BBC|the BBC's digital radio station|BBC Radio 4 Extra|other stations known as 'Radio 4'|Radio 4 (disambiguation){{!}}Radio 4}}{{Use British English|date=June 2012}}{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2012}}

name BBC Radio 4|image = BBC Radio 4.svg|city = London|area = United Kingdom|branding =|slogan = Intelligent speech, the most insightful journalism, the wittiest comedy, the most fascinating features and the most compelling drama and readings anywhere in UK radio

FM broadcast band>FM: 92.5–96.1 Hertz, 103.5–104.9 MHzLongwave>LW: 198 hertzMedium wave>MW: 603 kHz, 720 kHz, 774 kHz, 756 kHz, 1449 kHz, 1485 kHzDigital Audio Broadcasting: 12BFreesat: 704 (FM), 710 (LW)Freeview (UK)>Freeview: 704 (FM)Sky (UK only): 0104 (FM), 0143 (LW)Virgin Media: 904 (FM), 911 (LW)Virgin Media Ireland: 910 (FM)Various frequencies on analogue cableBBC Home Service|owner = BBC|sister_stations = BBC Radio 4 Extra|webcast = Web StreamFM
    }}BBC Radio 4 is a spoken-word radio channel owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967.History of the BBC: 1960s The station controller is Gwyneth Williams, and the station is part of BBC Radio and the BBC Radio department. The station is broadcast from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London.Radio 4 is the principal radio channel in the UK for:
    • news and current affairs
    • debate and discussion
    • comedy
    • culture, arts and drama
    • science and technology
    • philosophy
    • history
    • religion and ethics
    • factual programmes
    It is the second most popular domestic radio station, broadcast throughout the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on FM, LW and DAB, and can be received in eastern and south eastern counties of Ireland, the north of France and Northern Europe. It is also available through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and on the Internet. Its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC Radio 7), complements the main channel by broadcasting repeats from the Radio 4 archive, extended versions of Radio 4 programmes and supplements to series such as The Archers and Desert Island Discs.It is notable for its news bulletins and programmes such as Today and The World at One, heralded on air by the Greenwich Time Signal "pips" or the chimes of Big Ben. Radio 4 broadcasts the Shipping Forecast, which reached 150 years old in August 2017.NEWS, Radio 4's Shipping Forecast reaches 150 years old,weblink 24 August 2017, BBC, BBC, The pips are only accurate on FM, LW & MW as there is a delay on DAB and digital radio of approximately 3 to 5 seconds, even longer online (up to 23 seconds).


    BBC Radio 4 is the second most popular British domestic radio station by total hours,WEB,weblink Listening Figures – Quarterly Listening – All Individuals 15+ for period ending March 2012, RAJAR, April 2012, 1 June 2012,weblink no, dmy, after Radio 2 â€“ and the most popular in London and the South of England.{{citation needed|date=June 2012}} It recorded its highest audience, of 11 million listeners, in May 2011Guardian 12 May 2011 Retrieved 16 May 2011] and was "UK Radio Station of the Year" at the 2003, 2004 and 2008 Sony Radio Academy Awards.The Sony Radio Academy Awards: Winners 2004 {{webarchive |url= |date=6 October 2007 }}WEB,weblink Sony Radio Academy Awards â€” Winners 2008,, 19 March 2010, yes, 9 January 2009,weblink" title="">weblink It also won a Peabody Award in 2002 for File On 4: Export Controls.62nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2003. Costing £71.4 million (2005/6),WEB,weblink BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2005/2006, page 106, 19 March 2010, it is the BBC's most expensive national radio network and is considered by many to be its flagship. There is no comparable British commercial network: Channel 4 abandoned plans to launch its own speech-based digital radio station in October 2008 as part of a £100m cost cutting review.NEWS, John Plunkett,weblink Channel 4 has abandoned its entire radio project, as it seeks to make £100m in savings, The Guardian, 19 March 2010, 10 October 2008, London, In 2010 Gwyneth Williams"Gwyneth Williams appointed BBC Radio 4 controller" The Guardian 15 July 2010 Retrieved 15 July 2010 replaced Mark Damazer as Radio 4 controller. Damazer became Master of St Peter's College, Oxford.NEWS,weblink BBC News â€” Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer leaves the BBC, 13 April 2010, 12 April 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 13 April 2010, no, Music and sport are the only fields that largely fall outside the station's remit. It broadcasts occasional concerts, and documentaries related to various forms of both popular and classical music, and the long-running music-based Desert Island Discs. Prior to the creation of BBC Radio 5 it broadcast sports-based features, notably Sport on Four, and since the creation of BBC Radio 5 Live has become the home of ball-by-ball commentaries of most Test cricket matches played by England, broadcast on long wave. As a result, for around 70 days a year listeners have to rely on FM broadcasts or increasingly DAB for mainstream Radio 4 broadcasts – the number relying solely on long wave is now a small minority.The cricket broadcasts take precedence over on-the-hour news bulletins, but not the Shipping Forecast, carried since its move to long wave in 1978 because that can be received clearly at sea.WEB,weblink Met Office Shipping Forecast key,, 11 February 2018, 11 February 2018, The station is the UK's national broadcaster in times of national emergency such as war, due to the wide coverage of the Droitwich signal: if all other radio stations were forced to close, it would carry on broadcasting. It has been claimed that the commanders of nuclear-armed submarines believing that Britain had suffered nuclear attack were required to check if they could still receive Radio 4 on 198 long wave, and if they could not they would open sealed orders that might authorise a retaliatory strike."Radio silence puts subs on nuclear alert" 28 November 2003 Manchester Evening News Retrieved 11 February 2018WEB,weblink BBC Press Office, The Today Programme, BBC, yes, 25 May 2006,weblink As well as news and drama, the station has a strong reputation for comedy, including experimental and alternative comedy, many successful comedians and comedy shows first appearing on the station. Following the six o'clock news from Monday to Friday, the station normally broadcasts a thirty-minute comedy programme.The station is available on FM in most of Great Britain, parts of Ireland and the north of France; LW throughout the UK and in parts of Northern Europe, and the Atlantic north of the Azores to about 20 degrees west; MW in some areas; DAB; Digital TV including Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media, and on the Internet. Freesat, Sky and Virgin have a separate channel which broadcasts the Radio 4 LW output in mono, in addition to the FM output.


    (File:R4logo.jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.45|Logo of Radio 4 until 2007){{See also|BBC Home Service}}{{Further information|Timeline of BBC Radio 4}}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. Radio 4 replaced it on 30 September 1967, when the BBC renamed many of its domestic radio stations, in response to the challenge of offshore radio. It moved to long wave in November 1978, taking over the 200 kHz frequency (1500 meters) previously held by Radio 2, and later moved to 198 kHz as a result of international agreements aimed at avoiding interference (all UK AM/MW/LW frequencies are divisible by 9) and to mark the station becoming a fully national service for the first time the station officially became known as Radio 4 UK, a title that remained until mid 1984. For a time during the 1970s Radio 4 carried regional news bulletins Monday to Saturday. These were broadcast twice at breakfast, at lunchtime and an evening bulletin was aired at 5.55pm. There were also programme variations for the parts of England not served by BBC Local Radio stations. These included Roundabout East Anglia, a VHF opt-out of the Today programme broadcast from BBC East's studios in Norwich each weekday from 6.45 am to 8.45 am.WEB,weblink BBC Radio Norfolk's 25th anniversary, 9 September 2005, 10 February 2012, BBC, Roundabout East Anglia came to an end in mid-1980, when local radio services were introduced to East Anglia with the launch of BBC Radio Norfolk.All regional news bulletins broadcast from BBC regional news bases around England ended in August 1980, apart from in the south west. Until January 1983 there was no BBC Local Radio in the south west so these news bulletins and its weekday morning regional programme, Morning Sou'West, continued to be broadcast from the BBC studios in Plymouth on VHF and on the Radio 4 medium wave Plymouth relay until 31 December 1982.The launch of Radio 5 on 27 August 1990 saw the removal of Open University, schools programming and the Study on 4/Options adult education slot to the new station resulting in the full Radio 4 schedule being available on FM for the first time.Between 17 January 1991 and 2 March 1991 FM broadcasts were replaced by a continuous news service devoted to the Gulf War, Radio 4 News FM, with the main Radio 4 service being exclusively on long wave.In September 1991 it was decided that the main Radio 4 service would be on FM as FM coverage had now extended to cover almost all of the UK - Radio 4 didn't become available on FM in much of Scotland and Wales until the early 1990s. Opt-outs were transferred to long wave: currently Test Match Special, extra shipping forecasts, The Daily Service and Yesterday in Parliament. Long wave very occasionally opts out at other times, such as to broadcast special services, the most recent being when Pope Benedict XVI visited Britain in 2010.The longwave signal is part of the Royal Navy's system of Last Resort Letters. In the event of a suspected catastrophic attack on Britain, submarine captains, in addition to other checks, check for a broadcast signal from Radio 4 on 198 long wave to verify the annihilation of organised society in Great Britain.WEB, Rosenbaum, Ron,weblink Nuclear apocalypse and the Letter of Last Resort. – By Ron Rosenbaum â€” Slate Magazine,, 9 January 2009, 19 March 2010,

    Programmes and schedules

    Daily schedule

    An online schedule page lists the running order of programmes.WEB,weblink Radio 4 Daily Schedule page, BBC, 8 February 2010, 19 March 2010,


    Many programmes are pre-recorded. Programmes transmitted live include 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 managed from Broadcasting House with 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, which by early 2013 had returned to Broadcasting House after 15 years at BBC Television Centre in White City.NEWS,weblink New era for Broadcasting House, BBC News, 19 March 2010, 31 October 2000, London, The news returning to Broadcasting House has also meant that newsreaders can provide cover for continuity, which regularly occurs at 23:00 each night and 16:00 on a Sunday. This has reduced the total number of continuity announcers required each day down from four to three.The Time Signal, known as 'the pips', is broadcast every hour to herald the news bulletin, except at midnight and 18:00, where the chimes of Big Ben are played. There is no Greenwich Time Signal during the Saturday Afternoon Drama at 15:00 on Radio 4 on Saturdays either. Only pips broadcast on FM/AM/MW/LW are accurate. On all digital platforms they are in delay by between 3 and 5 seconds and even longer online (up to 23 seconds).


    Radio 4 programmes cover a wide variety of genre including news and current affairs, history, culture, science, religion, arts, drama and light entertainment. A number of the programmes on Radio 4 take the form of a "magazine" show, featuring numerous small contributions over the course of the programme—Woman's Hour, From Our Own Correspondent, You and Yours. The rise of these magazine shows is primarily due to the work of Tony Whitby, controller of Radio 4 from 1970 to 1975.BOOK, Life on Air: A History of Radio Four, David, Hendy, Oxford University Press, 9780199248810, 2007, 78–79, The station hosts a number of long-running programmes, many of which have been broadcast for over 40 years.Most programmes are available for four weeks after broadcast as streaming audio from Radio 4's listen again pageWEB,weblink Radio 4: Listen Again, BBC, 19 March 2010, and via BBC iPlayer. A selection of programmes is also available as podcasts or downloadable audio files.WEB,weblink Radio 4 – Downloading and Podcasting, BBC, 19 March 2010, Many comedy and drama programmes from the Radio 4 archives are rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC Radio 7).Due to the capacity limitations of DAB and increasing sport broadcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 DAB has to reduce its bit rate most evenings, such that after 7pm its DAB output is usually in mono, even though many of its programmes are made in stereo (including its flagship drama "The Archers"), these can be heard in stereo only on FM, Digital TV on Freeview & Freesat (Ch. 704), Sky, Virgin and on line via BBC iPlayer radio. BBC World Service, which uses BBC Radio 4 FM & DAB frequencies between 01:00am and 05:20am, is in stereo, but only on Radio 4 FM & DAB and not on its own dedicated DAB channel. BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcasts in mono on DAB, but has always been in stereo on Digital TV (Freeview / Freesat Ch 708), Sky, Virgin and online.

    Notable continuity announcers and newsreaders

    Announcers carry out the following duties from Broadcasting House:
    • Provide links (or junctions) between programmes
    • Read trails for programmes
    • Provide reassurance to listeners during a programme breakdown
    • Read the Shipping Forecast (except the 05:20 broadcast, which is covered by BBC Weather)
    • Read the BBC Radio 3 news summaries at 13:00, 17:00 and 18:00 on weekdays
    Newsreaders read hourly summaries and longer bulletins from New Broadcasting House.WEB,weblink ''Being a newsreader'' by Harriet Cass, BBC, 30 April 2008, 19 March 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 28 June 2008, NEWS,weblink List of BBC Radio newsreaders, BBC News, 11 July 2007, 19 March 2010, London, In 2012 the BBC announced that it would be reducing its main presentation team from 12 to ten.Charlotte Green and Harriet Cass to leave BBC Radio 4


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    Former staff

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    Frequencies and other means of reception

    Radio 4 is broadcast on:WEB,weblink How to Listen, BBC, 11 February 2018, 11 February 2018,


    There have been criticisms voiced by centre-right newspapers in recent years over a perceived left political bias across a range of issues, such as the EU and the Iraq War,NEWS,weblink Is Radio 4 alienating its core audience?, Telegraph, 6 February 2007, 11 February 2018, London, Tracy, Fisk, BBC report damns its ‘culture of bias’ – Times Online {{webarchive |url= |date=26 August 2011 }}NEWS, Leonard, Tom,weblink The BBC's commitment to bias is no laughing matter, Telegraph, 27 October 2006, 11 February 2018, London, as well as sycophancy in interviews, particularly on the popular morning news magazine TodayNEWS,weblink Stephen Pollard: I don't want bias with my cornflakes â€” Commentators, Opinion, The Independent, 20 October 2003, 11 February 2018, London, as part of a reported perception of a general "malaise" at the BBC. Conversely, the journalist Mehdi Hasan has criticised the station for an overtly "socially and culturally conservative" approach.NEWS,weblink Bias and the Beeb, Hasan, Mehdi, 27 August 2009, New Statesman, 5 November 2009, There has been frequent criticism of Radio 4—and Today in particular—for a lack of female broadcasters.NEWS,weblink Another woman on Radio 4's Today programme? The BBC ain't joking, Emma, Barnett, 16 July 2013, 4 January 2014, The Telegraph, London, In September 1972, Radio 4 employed the first female continuity announcers—Hylda Bamber and Barbara Edwards (an event which caused the Daily Mail to proclaim that Radio 4 had "fallen" to women's liberation). For quite some time, the introduction of female newsreaders led to complaints from listeners; women discussing topics of feminist interest led to similar complaints.BOOK, Life on Air: A History of Radio Four, David, Hendy, Oxford University Press, 9780199248810, 2007, 99–100, Radio 4 has also been frequently criticised for being too middle class and being of little interest to non-white listeners.NEWS,weblink BBC Radio 4 'too middle class and London-centric', Neil, Midgley, The Telegraph, 8 February 2011, 4 January 2014, NEWS,weblink Am I bovvered that Radio 4 is too middle class? No!, The Guardian Organ Grinder Blog, John, Mair, 22 February 2008, 4 January 2014, NEWS,weblink Radio 4's Woman's Hour is 'too middle class and there's too much cooking', says new presenter, Mail Online, 4 January 2014, London, 4 February 2008, .

    See also



    Further reading

    • BOOK, d'Arcy, Kevin, The voice of the brain of Britain: a portrait of Radio Four, 2007, Rajah Books, 978-0-9556706-0-2,
    • BOOK, Elmes, Simon, And Now on Radio 4, 2007, Random House, 978-0-09-950537-2,
    • BOOK, Hendy, David, Life on Air: A History of Radio Four, 2007, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-924881-0,
    • NEWS, Mullen, L, 20 things you didn’t know about Radio 4, TV & Radio, The Times, 29 September 2007,weblink 2 October 2007, London, {{Subscription required}}

    External links

    {{Spoken Wikipedia|BBC Radio 4.ogg|2012-09-20}} {{BBC Radio 4}}{{BBC Radio}}{{Media in the United Kingdom|radio}}{{Freeview}}{{London radio}}{{BBC World Service}}{{Subject bar|portal1=BBC|portal2=Radio|commons=yes|commons-search=Category:BBC Radio 4|d=yes|d-search=Q795598}}{{Authority control}}

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