Celebrating World Radio Day 2019

13 February 2019

World Radio Day celebrates the power of radio and aims to bring together broadcasters from around the world to share knowledge and reach out to new audiences - from major networks to small community stations.

As the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom has a team of radio experts who have spent decades working in different roles across the industry.

So, we thought what better way to celebrate it, than to ask our resident radio heads for some of their favourite memories from their time listening to and working with the medium.

Here’s what they told us.

"At a young age we lived in a property not far from Humber Radio ship / shore station - you could see the transmission masts from the windows. This resulted in a wonderful revelation of signal break through both voice and morse code into the ancient family radio. The language was often way beyond what young ears should have been exposed to, and quite naturally I learned morse code by default.

"In my teenage years I listened to the many pirate radio stations that sprang up – of these, Radio Caroline has been back in the news recently. I can say that I used to listen to the originals - there was both a ‘north’ and a ‘south’ ship at one stage together with a significant number of others in ships and old shore forts."

- Steve Ripley, senior broadcast specialist

"One radio memory from my school days was when I was camping in the back garden with a friend one rainy August evening in 1977. I was listening to Radio Luxembourg on a little transistor radio when the DJ announced that Elvis Presley had died.

"Although he had been in decline for a few years before that, he was still very hugely popular - with parents at least - so that was big news at the time!"

- Peter Madry, principal broadcast specialist

"For me, it was Radio 1 as a kid and then on my Youth Training Scheme course in 1983 it was Laser 558 that was on in the meeting room.

"Through the late eighties and early nineties I had moved on to Jeff Young’s Big Beat show and Pete Tong’s Essential Selection, and now I still listen to Radio 1 for Annie Mac on a Friday night - but on the commute home it’s LBC or Radio 4."

- Kevin Delaney, spectrum policy advisor

"During the 1960s, for me radio was a backdrop to the family evening meal at weekends. Children’s TV stopped early in the evenings and, anyway, we would not usually watch and eat.

"We would listen to ‘Sing something simple’ with Cliff Adams and Jack Emblow (who played the accordion) or the Mike Sammes Singers, or Swingle Singers  - not heard for many years now but fondly remembered as a way to relax and wind down at the end of the day."

- Cliff Mason, spectrum policy manager

"As you might expect given my job, radio has been, and continues to be, a big part of my life.

"I think my passion started when I was a child, with Radio 1 always on in our house from morning to night. My mother had an old hi-fi unit with a dodgy cassette recorder which she would use to tape hit songs off the radio (yes, I know you weren’t supposed to do it, but everybody did!).

"I think she got up to well over 100 cassettes before a) people stopped using cassettes, and b) she stopped enjoying chart music. Many years back I re-catalogued all of the tapes for her – they essentially represent an audio history of Radio 1 from 1978-88 – albeit in dodgy quality, and with the DJs talking over the intros and ends of the songs.

"After leaving school I decided to do a City & Guilds course in media and journalism alongside A-Levels, and it didn’t take me long to decide that radio was where I wanted to be.

"I managed to get my foot in the door at one of my local commercial radio stations, helping out with various things like ‘driving the desk’ (pressing the buttons in the studio that make the magic happen), doing news and sport reports, and answering calls from listeners. Local radio listeners can be very interesting…

"Little did I know at the time that many of the presenters on the station would go on to run their own radio companies, and that I would end up regulating their businesses!

"One of the great things about being a radio regulator is the opportunity it offers to meet and talk to a huge variety of people, from chief executives of large commercial companies to hospital radio volunteers, all of whom are united in their passion for the medium of radio. You don’t get that in television. People consume more television, and it’s a much bigger business, of course, but in my experience people don’t have a passion for it in the way they do for radio."

- Neil Stock, director of broadcast licensing