June 25, 2008

Blue Plaque is Set to Celebrate the Success Story of Local Radio in City

A BLUE plaque to commemorate the history of local radio broadcasting in Leeds by the BBC will be unveiled later this week.

The celebratory Leeds Civic Trust plaque will be unveiled by the deputy director-general of the corporation, Mark Byford, who started his career with the BBC in Leeds, on Thursday.

The BBC was created in 1922. Two years later it began its first local radio broadcasts from Leeds with the official opening of the Leeds/Bradford relay station by John Reith, the first director- general of the BBC at Cabinet Chambers, Basinghall Street, Leeds.

There were regular programmes for schools transmitted from 3.30pm to 4pm on Fridays. There was the fortnightly Farmers' Corner, local news, and religious services were broadcast from two churches and two chapels in Leeds and Bradford.

In July 1931 the Leeds and Bradford transmitter closed down and was replaced by a regional transmitter serving 19 counties. Thereafter the emphasis was on regional rather than local broadcasting, and Leeds was not to regain its own

BBC radio station for almost 40 years.

However, the BBC's presence in Leeds remained strong with the opening of New Broadcasting House Leeds in May 1933 in Albrecht's Building, Woodhouse Lane.

In 1968 local radio was re-established in Leeds when BBC Radio Leeds started on June 24 at 5.30pm.

Radio Leeds sought an informal atmosphere and aimed to cover the city in every aspect from the noisy world of showbusiness to the quiet world of local poets, from factory to front room.

The station moved to the BBC premises in Woodhouse Lane in September 1978 and most recently to the Broadcasting Centre at St Peter's Square, Quarry Hill.

Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: "BBC Radio Leeds is a great success story.

"For 40 years it has played a very important role in keeping people in touch with what is happening in Leeds and West Yorkshire."

Phil Squire, managing editor of BBC Radio Leeds, said: We're honoured and delighted to be given a blue plaque by the Leeds Civic Trust."

The plaque will be placed at BBC Broadcasting Centre, St Peter's Square.

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