2LO Calling marked 90 years of BBC Radio

Radio Reunited (c) BBC
A broadcasting first was made in the past few minutes when all BBC Radio outlets joined up at 17:33 GMT for "Radio Reunited" to mark 90 years of BBC Radio. The event was simulcast in part on TV via the BBC News Channel.

On the 14th November 1922, the BBC commenced broadcasting its first radio station, called 2LO, using a transmitter on The Strand in London. Stations in Birmingham and Manchester launched the very next day and further stations soon appeared across the UK. Back then, the BBC was a private company, set up by radio manufacturers to provide something to listen to.

To mark the anniversary, every BBC radio station in the UK and around the world on all analogue and digital frequencies came together for the unique simulcast on Wednesday, which was introduced by Simon Mayo. The tribute came live from the London Science Museum, current home of the original Marconi transmitter that started it all off.

The simulcast contained a special eclectic composition by Damon Albarn entitled "2LO calling". The composition included the iconic chimes of Big Ben, the first ever broadcast from the 2LO transmitter and "elements as diverse as a Morse-coded Bertrand Russell, the blackbird and skylark, commentary from the Cameroon election, with Pashto, Danish and Pradeep transmissions, and of course, the ubiquitous pips."

Tim Davie, Acting Director-General of the BBC, commented: "We’re thrilled that Damon Albarn has provided this composition, which helps us mark a piece of radio history, bringing audiences together across the world. After 90 years, it is fantastic to see radio still innovating and maintaining its relevance to listeners."

As well as marking events 90 years ago, the BBC has asked listeners around the world to contribute a single, short message addressed to future generations to be listened to 90 years from now. Their contributions ranged from hopes and fears to observations and advice. Some have been selected for use by Damon Albarn in his composition. According to the BBC, "all the messages are being passed on to the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex to ensure they are preserved for another 90 years and can be made available for academic research".

  See also: The BBC's director of distribution, Alix Pryde has written a brief history of BBC Radio.  Click here.
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