The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

100 Years of the BBC, Radio and Life as We Know It.
Be informed, educated and entertained by the amazing true story of radio’s forgotten pioneers. With host Paul Kerensa and rarely-heard clips from broadcasting’s golden era. Original music by Will Farmer. www.paulkerensa.com

Season 2 Episode 4 (aka Episode 31 in total) flashes us back to Arthur Burrows' pre-BBC days, and brings us to December 17th-20th 1922, when 4/5 of the BBC workforce (ie. 4 people of the 5) tour central London searching for a building.

They can use Magnet House for now, on loan from General Electric, but after that, where? After deciding against a gold-flatting mill (now a Gym Box), they discover a nice little premises on Savoy Hill.

But before that, Arthur Burrows shows John Reith the ropes, via a chart, of everything this new BBC will need, from engineers to commissionaires a lady's assistant. Reith is still baffled.

But before THAT - several years before that - Burrows was the lone voice trying to convince the Marconi Company that broadcasting was a Good Thing. The Marconi bosses didn't agree. Our special guest knows all about this: Professor Gabriele Balbi, Associate Professor of Media Studies at USI in Switzerland, has written a paper called 'Wireless’ Critical Flaw: The Marconi Company, Corporation Mentalities and the Broadcasting Option'. He fills in Burrows' back-story, explains how several voices can be heard within a company's culture, and is a lone voice in academia too, suggesting that the Marconi Company still didn't get behind broadcasting even when the Melba concerts showed it was possible. Even then, he argues, the transmissions were just to show home-users that wireless communication was easy.

So perhaps when Burrows was explaining to Reith everything about broadcasting, he was STILL fighting the corner for his vision of what radio was, and could be.

And broadcasting has clearly reached its pinnacle in this podcast, so thank you for supporting it...

  • We are a one-man band - we're NOTHING to do with the present-day BBC - this podcast is entirely run by Paul Kerensa, who you can email if you want to add something to the show on radio history, offer any correspondence, or send us a short audio clip of your earliest broadcasting memories (not as old as 1922, don't worry) for inclusion on a future episode.
  • Thank you to all who support us on Patreon - if you'd like to join this growing band of marvellous people, I upload extra things there, about half of which are to do with this podcast and radio history (the latest of which is a reading of Cecil Lewis' Broadcasting From Within, the first book on broadcasting, in 1924), and about half of which are general comedy/writing things more like to the weekly Facebook Live I do. Join us on Patreon, and keep us in books and web hosting. It all helps keep us making episodes - we'd genuinely have stopped by now if no one had! So THANK YOU.
  • I guest-presented an episode for The History of England podcast. Hear it here! It's essentially the entire first season of this podcast, squidged into half an hour. (If it vanishes from their feed, we'll be posting it as a special episode on this podcast in a few months' time). 30,000 people have heard that episode now - 100 times the listenership of our episodes here! So welcome if you've joined us from there...
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook page is here. Do like. I post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook group is here. Do join. You post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Twitter profile is here. Do follow.
  • My other podcast of interviews, from Rev Richard Coles, Miranda Hart, Milton Jones and more is called A Paul Kerensa Podcast - and I'm adding more interviews all the time. Do listen.
  • My mailing list is here - do subscribe to keep up with things.
  • My books are available here or orderable from bookshops.

Memos included in this episode are BBC copyright content, reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation, all rights reserved. Archive clips are either public domain or someone's domain but the mists of time has hidden from us whose they are. Thank you, all rights holders! And we hope this is ok with you...

Do please rate and review this podcast where you found it... and keep liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online. It all helps others find us. 

Next time: The staff grows! We look at Marconi House in late December 1922, as Rex Palmer joins, but experimental licences cause a headache for those hoping for any income from this new 'BBC' experiment.

Subscribe to get this next time.

Closing down now, closing down.

"I had little idea what broadcasting was." So said John Reith after his job interview to become General Manager of the brand new BBC.

On this exciting episode, meet your first General Manager (Reith), Director of Programmes (Arthur Burrows v Cecil Lewis - who'll get the job?), Secretary (Major Anderson beats 245 others to it, but doesn't last six months) and Chief Engineer (R.H. White - nothing to do with the lemonade - he's appointed but doesn't last the weekend...).

Spanning December 7th-16th 1922, we've got the nerves, the prayers, the interviews, the winks, the nudges, the near-misses (discover who turned down the top job before it was offered to Reith - how different it could have been...) and the programmes.

You'll hear Charles Penrose's The Laughing Policeman, Peter Eckersley spoofing the chimes, A.E. Thompson literally nailing down where the police band sit... plus complaints, correspondence and memos about the broadcasts one month into the BBC's being.

Our special guest is 'Diddy' David Hamilton (who was not one of the first staff, to clarify our episode title). David's a delight, and brings tales of playing Elvis to Elvis, introducing the Beatles and the Stones, and his latest radio home, Boom Radio.

 

LINKS FOR YOUR CLICKING PLEASURE:

  • Watch the full David Hamilton interview, including his face, my face + audio from a future episode, here on our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/posts/47583443. You'll need to sign up to our Patreon, but a) you only need sign up to the minimum level to watch the video, b) you can cancel any time, and c) it all helps support this podcast and keeps us in web-hosting and books. Books like...
  • David Hamilton's fab radio books are The Golden Days of Radio 1 and Commercial Radio Daze - recommended.
  • I guest-presented an episode for The History of England podcast. Hear it here! It's essentially the entire first season of this podcast, squidged into half an hour. (If it vanishes from their feed, we'll be posting it as a special episode on this podcast in a few months' time). 30,000 people have heard that episode now - 100 times the listenership of our episodes here! So welcome if you've joined us from there...
  • The Britishbroadcastingchallenge.com is on a mission to open up the future of public service broadcasting
  • Want to hear the full version of Charles Penrose's The Laughing Policeman? Course you do...
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook page is here. Do like. I post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook group is here. Do join. You post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Twitter profile is here. Do follow.
  • My other podcast of interviews, from Rev Richard Coles, Miranda Hart, Milton Jones and more is called A Paul Kerensa Podcast - and I'm adding more interviews all the time. Do listen. 
  • My mailing list is here - do subscribe to keep up with things.
  • My books are available here or orderable from bookshops.
  • Support us at patreon.com/paulkerensa or paypal.me/paulkerensa - Thanks to those who do/have/will!

We're nothing to do with today's BBC - we're talking about the BBCompany, not made by or anything to with the BBCorporation. But they have loaned us the memo we read out - so that's BBC copyright content, reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation, all rights reserved. Archive clips are either public domain or someone's domain and we don't know whose. But we thank them and reiterate that all copyright belongs to them, whoever they are...

Do please rate and review this podcast where you found it... and keep liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online. It all helps others find us. We are a one-man band. I mean, I am. Not we. I.

Email the podcast here. Your comments are always welcome.

Next time: Burrows' broadcasting company vs Marconi's messaging company. Who'll win? Both! 

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Thanks for listening! Now stand for the National Anthem.

Yellow highlighters at the ready - the listings have arrived! Except it's weeks 2 + 3 of the BBC, back in Nov/Dec 1922, and the Radio Times is nearly a year away. So how do we know what's on the wireless? And is it called radio yet?

A few trusty local newspapers printed a few listings - though watch this space, as they'll decide differently in a few episodes time. From The Pall Mall Gazette to The Derby Daily Telegraph, we've cobbled together the first BBC listings, thanks to our newspaper detective Andrew Barker.

Plus a few memos read by the early BBC staff who received them, an insight into the first Children's Hour, and the debuts of comedian Norman Long and the 2LO Wireless Orchestra.

There's also the return of the Parliamentary Podcast Players to shine a light on some dodgy dealing in Westminster (Government sleaze? At least that's no longer with us). It's all down to ex-Postmaster General F.G. Kellaway, who negotiated with the Marconi Company and co to help set up the BBC, now becoming a Marconi Company director. Could he have set up his own company for a windfall? We also whizz back to the Marconi Scandal of 1912, when shares were scooped up by government ministers thanks to some alleged insider dealing.

Our guests are Andrew Barker and Alan Stafford (Alan's books include It's Friday, It's CRACKERJACK).

Hear rare archive clips from:

  • 2LO Musical Director Stanton Jefferies
  • 5IT Chief Engineer A.E. Thompson
  • 5IT Station Director Percy Edgar
  • Comedian Helena Millais
  • Percussionist Billy Whitlock
  • Comedian Norman Long
 
And thanks to our Parliamentary Podcast Players:
  • Mr Speaker - Wayne Clarke
  • Captain Benn - Edi Johnston
  • Mr Short - Lynn Robertson Hay
  • Mr Hurd - Philip Rowe
  • Mr Middleton - Paul Stubbs
  • The PM Mr Bonar Law - Daniel Edison
  • Mr Neville Chamberlain - Pete Hawkins
 

SHOWNOTES:

  • Our Norman Long excerpt is from AusRadioHistorian - see his Youtube channel for hundreds more old gramophone records.
  • We mention singer Topliss Green - you can see and hear him sing, later, in this footage from British Pathe
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook page is here. Do like. I post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook group is here. Do join. You post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Twitter profile is here. Do follow.
  • Paul Kerensa's other podcast of interviews, from Miranda Hart, Sally Phillips and Tim Vine (scroll way back for those) to more recent mid-pandemic catch-ups with comedians and writers, can be found here.
  • Paul's mailing list is here - do subscribe to keep up with his (my) goings-on.
  • Paul's books are available here or orderable from bookshops.
  • The first few chapters of Paul's new historical novel on the BBC origin story - the novelisation of this podcast, pretty much - will be available soon on patreon.com/paulkerensa - and joining there also helps support this podcast... 
  • ...or one-off tips of a few quid are most welcome at paypal.me/paulkerensa - it all keeps us (me) in web-hosting and books. The more I can research, the more complete this podcast gets.

 

We're unconnected to the BBC - we're talking about the BBCompany, not made by or anything to with the BBCorporation.

I thank you for rating and reviewing this podcast where you found it... or liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online. It all helps bump us up the social medias.

Email the podcast here. Your comments are always welcome.

Next time: the first four employees... including the arrival of John Reith.

Subscribe to get the podcast in your in-tray.

Thanks for listening! Now stand for the National Anthem.

Season 2 begins! So please welcome to the microphone: entertainment! The very first.

Journey back to November 16th 1922 - Day 3 of the BBC - to meet Auntie's first entertainers. But history being history, nothing's easy...

Discover why the BBC's first entertainers weren't the first after all, whether London, Birmingham or Manchester brought us the BBC's first entertainment concert - and why each of them has a claim to it.

Our fabulous guest is comedian, actor, writer and professional liar Lee Mack, with tales from Not Going Out, Would I Lie To You and his earliest memories of broadcast comedy (who remembers Wait Till Your Father Gets Home?).

You'll also hear rare clips of the original broadcasters (there are hardly any recordings from 1920s' broadcasts, so these are clips looking back), including Percy Edgar, Peter Eckersley, Hugh Bell, Leonard Hawke, Helena Millais, Ernie Mayne, Tommy Lorne and the Ziegeld Follies.

Plus BBC Radio Norfolk's Paul Hayes brings us a follow-up from the previous Percy Edgar special, with tales of Barrie Edgar, footballing firsts and archive clips of Jimmy Jewell and Richard Dimbleby.

From Billy Beer to Bobby Ball, via the first BBC song (Drake Goes West - or was it?), the first song about the BBC (Auntie Aggie of the BBC), the world's first radio song (List'ning on Some Radio) and the earliest live British TV football coverage still available (from 1949), we've compiled everything that kickstarted British broadcast entertainment.

 

SHOWNOTES:

 

We're a lone operator, unconnected to the BBC - we're talking about the BBCompany, not made by the BBCorporation.

We're just one person really, who you can help with the podcast via tips at paypal.me/paulkerensa... or via monthly shrapnel in exchange for extra audio/video/writings on patreon.com/paulkerensa... or via rating and reviewing this podcast where you found it... or via liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online - it all helps bump us up the social medias.

Email the podcast here. Your comments are always welcome.

Next time: the first listings - nearly a year before the Radio Times.

Subscribe to make sure you get the podcast in your in-tray.

Thanks for listening!

Ahead of season 2 (covering the first year and a bit of the BBC, from November 16th 1922 to December 31st 1923), here's a recap of season 1 - told by the people who were there: eleven broadcasting pioneers.

 

GUGLIELMO MARCONI: Inventor of 'wireless'

H.J. ROUND: First to send speech west across the Atlantic

PETER ECKERSLEY: First regular British radio broadcaster

WINIFRED SAYER: First woman on the radio, first professional radio performer

DAME NELLIE MELBA: First star broadcaster

ARTHUR BURROWS: First voice of the BBC

KENNETH WRIGHT: First director of the BBC in the North

JOHN REITH: First General Manager then Director General of the BBC

ERNIE MAYNE: First British novelty record about broadcasting 

HELENA MILLAIS: First broadcast character comedian 

A.E. THOMPSON: Second voice of the BBC

+

LEE MACK

DAVID HAMILTON

...who are a little more recent in terms of broadcasting.

Hear them on season 2 of the podcast, as we explore the first entertainers, the first staff, Magnet House, Savoy Hill, Women's Hour, the Radio Times, battles with the press and the government and much more.

 

As ever, we are nothing to do with the current BBC.

As ever, we're on Twitter.com/bbcentury and Facebook.com/bbcentury, with a more interactive group at Facebook.com/groups/bbcentury

As ever, your support at patreon.com/paulkerensa is very much appreciated. Watch the full David Hamilton video interview there, tour Paul's radio history bookshelf, and know you're helping to keep us (me - there's no one else here) making podcasts. 

 

Stay informed/educated/entertained/subscribed.

 

Season 2 soon...

Percy Edgar was there right at the start of the BBC. One of the first voices, he booked the acts, managed the station, then became Director of the Midland Region. He was the most influential regional director from 1922 to 1948, far outlasting Reith and, well, every other early radio pioneer I can think of.

His grandson, the playwright David Edgar, has dusted down Percy's memoir and reads it for us on this our final special. Hear all about the foggy first night, the first children's programmes (including Susan the Blue Cat with Yellow Spots), the dancer who wouldn't stop moving, Edgar's encounters with Reith, his double act with A.E. Thompson, and the involvement of Percy's son (David's father) Barrie, who helped inspire the first regular children's programme, then went on to produce Come Dancing, Songs of Praise and Muffin the Mule amongst others.

Most of this episode has David read his grandfather's words, but now and then we have cameo clips from Percy Edgar and A.E. Thompson too.

We are indebted to David and the Edgar family for sharing the memoir with us. You can read along in its typewritten/hand-scrawled marvellousness on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BBCentury/posts/197527178633126

While you're there, join our group facebook.com/groups/bbcentury. We're also on twitter.com/bbcentury - and our host Paul can be followed at facebook.com/paul.kerensa and twitter.com/paulkerensa

We hasten to add we have no connection to the BBC - we're talking about them not with them. Even then, we're talking about the BBCompany, not the BBCorporation... yet. We'll get to how what happens in about 50 episodes' time.

Thank you for supporting the podcast, either via tips at paypal.me/paulkerensa or via monthly shrapnel in exchange for extra audio/video/writings on patreon.com/paulkerensa (some are broadcasting-specific, like my video interview with Diddy David Hamilton, some are wider writings and advance articles I write elsewhere). It all helps keep us in web-hosting and books - there's no profiteering here.

Your ratings/reviews really help spread word of the podcast too - we're a one-man operation. Not that dissimilar from when Percy Edgar ran the show...

Enjoy the episode! The full works are at bbcentury.podbean.com

Part 2 of our parliamentary re-enactment is a dense and complex beast - but then so is Parliament. Good luck!

Following last episode, we're re-enacting every political discussion on broadcasting in 1922: the year the word caught on, and the year the BBC was launched. So this episode is like listening to radio in the 1920s... expect to not get every word, but enjoy trying. You may need to tune your ears to catch what the House of Commons was echoing with a century ago. 

We're between seasons, with a few specials. Here for the first time, our cast of 20 bring to life the MPs of a century ago. These are the full works, no editing to the highlights - we'll leave that for your brain to do.

This episode the MPs accuse the Postmaster-General of a power-grab, over-regulation, and stopping greater discussion by scaremongering. The PMG says how awful (and dangerous) the airwaves will be if left to run wild, and defends the so-called monopoly he's put together by assembling this 'B.B.C'. The PMG is determined that only British manufacturers of wireless radios will be permitted for the first two years... but will that prevent foreign innovation?

Our four debates are:

The text is all courtesy of Hansard; this episode contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0 (https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/copyright-parliament/open-parliament-licence/).

 

Our cast this episode:

Wayne Clarke - The Speaker of the House

Cameron Potts - Capt Benn

Philip Rowe - Sir William Lane-Mitchell (his podcast: The History of European Theatre)

Shaun Jacques - Mr Kiley (his podcast: Tell Me A Bit About Yourself)

Jack Shaw - Sir Donald Maclean (his podcast: Wrong Term Memory)

Paul Hayes - Sir Douglas Newton

Alan Stafford - The Deputy Chairman

James Maidment-Fullard - Mr Malone

Philip Corsius - Mr Hailwood and Mr Raffan

Andrea Smith - Lt Comm Kenworthy

David Kirkland - Mr Ashley and Mr Percy

Mike Simmonds - Lt Col Murray

Daniel Edison - Lt Col Ward

Paul Savage - Mr Foot

Lynn Robertson Hay - Lt Col Hall

Paul Kerensa - The Postmaster-General Mr Kellaway

...Thanks to them all!

 

You can support our work at patreon.com/paulkerensa, where you'll currently find our full unedited video interview with Diddy David Hamilton - we'll extract some audio nuggets of David's interview for future podcast episodes, but the full version will only be viewable on Patreon (after all, this is audio, that's video). It helps keep us in web-hosting and research books. We don't turn a profit on this podcast - it's just for the love of it, so thanks for keeping us afloat! For a one-off tip, there's also paypal.me/paulkerensa, and I thank you.

Please do rate/review us too. It really helps get us out there, and this podcast is just a one-man band, run by me, Paul Kerensa. Thanks for your fab ratings thus far - all 5 stars on Apple Podcasts! Aw, you guys.

We're nothing to do with the BBC, BTW, FWIW, ICYMI.

Thanks for listening, if you did. And congrats for making it. You've done incredibly well.

Next time: the recently discovered never-before-heard memoirs of the second voice of the BBC, Percy Edgar. Subscribe to have it land when it arrives. And do tell people. Don't keep us to yourself...

Meanwhile, find us on Twitter, on our Facebook page and on our Facebook group. Do join/follow/like.

Westminster, 1922: Parliament learns a new word, 'Broadcasting'. And they LOVE to argue about new words.

In this special, our cast of 20 brings to life EVERY broadcasting debate from 1922, no matter how big or small. No editing here. On our specials we outstay our welcome and we dig a little deeper. So approach this episode as if you're tuning into the BBC Parliament channel, only it's a century ago and they're deciding if and how there should be a BBC. Some parts may be an easier listen than others. You may need to tune your ears to their 'old-fashioned Parliament' setting.

But listen closely and your ears will be rewarded with never-before-heard insights into how and why we've ended up with today's broadcasting landscape: how the licence fee, protectionism, public service broadcasting, innovation, French weather reports, and so much more all jostled for attention a hundred years ago. MPs' decisions then affect us now.

While the engineers and broadcasters were pioneering this new tech, Postmaster-General Frederick Kellaway adopted a strict approach. You'll hear how the chaos of America was to be avoided, but how MPs differed on whether the PMG was taking too firm a line on this fledgeling invention.

We have eight debates of varying sizes to bring you - too many for one podcast, so part 2 will pick up the tale. We're grateful to our cast; in this episode you'll hear:

Paul Hayes - Sir Douglas Newton

Mike Simmonds - Lt Col Murray

Paul Stubbs - Mr Kennedy

Wayne Clarke - The Speaker of the House

James Maidment-Fullard - Mr Malone

Andrea Smith - Lt Comm Kenworthy

Adam Hawkins - Capt Guest

Paul Kerensa - Postmaster-General Mr Kellaway + Sir Henry Norman

The text is all courtesy of Hansard; this episode contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0 (https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/copyright-parliament/open-parliament-licence/).

You'll hear the following moments:

Part 2 will pick up the story.

Elsewhere in this episode we mention the Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame blog, re May 16th 1922's first Irish singer of the wireless: Isolde O'Farrell. Do have a read of their marvellous blog and support their work.

You can support our work at patreon.com/paulkerensa, where you'll currently find our full unedited video interview with Diddy David Hamilton - we'll extract some audio nuggets of David's interview for future podcast episodes, but the full version will only be viewable on Patreon (after all, this is audio, that's video).

THANK YOU if you support us there... It helps keep us in web-hosting and research books. We don't turn a profit on this podcast - it's just for the love of it, so thanks for keeping us afloat! For a one-off tip, there's also paypal.me/paulkerensa, and I thank you.

We also mention Shaun Jacques' Tell Me A Bit About Yourself podcast (which includes an interview with Paul, host of this podcast) and Jack Shaw's Wrong Term Memory podcast. Have a listen.

We're on Twitter and have a Facebook page and a Facebook group. Do join/follow/like.

+ Subscribe to get all of these podcasts in your podtray. Next time, the Parliamentary debates continue!

Please do rate/review us too. It really helps get us out there, and this podcast is just a one-man band, run by me, Paul Kerensa.

We're nothing to do with the BBC, BTW, FWIW, ICYMI.

Thanks for listening, if you did. And well done. More soon.

A special minisode championing Gertrude Donisthorpe: one of the world's first female broadcasters and arguably Britain's first DJ. Yet she's hardly to be seen in any of the history books.

Google her now, go on. What do you find? Radio silence.

We mentioned her a couple of episodes ago but didn't even know her first name. So thanks to a tweet from Dr Elizabeth Bruton of the Science Museum, I now know what the history books and the internet at large couldn't tell me. So now I want to tell you.

Gertrude Donisthorpe. This one's for you.

In 1917, she was spinning discs (of a sort), announcing the hottest tracks (the valve in the radio set was quite hot anyway) and doing shout-outs for her audience (of one, her husband). Later, wireless concerts for local troops increased her (and his) audience. But I think they need a bigger audience yet.

No recordings exist from back then, so all you have is my impression - but her words.

Also on this episode, a sneak-peek of next episode's Parliamentary reconstruction, plus Alan Pemberton's glossary of our Captain Round episode. If you struggled with any of the old lingo last episode, Alan's here to help - here on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BBCentury/posts/246631957055981 

...which you can of course 'like', or 'join' our Facebook 'group'. We're also on Twitter and on Patreon with extra bonus things, including unedited video interviews with some of our previous guests, who you'll have heard in bitesize audio form on the podcast. Or your tips are always welcome on Paypal, to keep us in books and web-hosting. Thanks if you do!

Here's a little blog post I've written about Gertrude Donisthorpe. Why? Because: see bit above about her ungooglability. If she is Britain's first DJ, and one of the first female broadcasters IN THE WORLD, she needs a bit more on the internet about her.

+ I mention in the episode a 1922-23 booklet written by Captain H Donisthorpe: Wireless at Home - one of the earliest books on radio, a how-to guide written before there was much to listen to. Well I couldn't resist - I found a copy online, and there's a video of me flicking through bits of it here.

We're unaffiliated with the BBC - in fact we're just one person, more an I than a we - it's Paul, hello.

So your help with this podcast is hugely appreciated. Tell the world! Your ratings and reviewings are most welcome, and subscribe to each episode direct to your podbox.

Happy listening!
 
 
Our first special stars radio pioneer Captain H.J. Round, in a true piece of history.
 
We're on a break between seasons, so here's the first of a few specials... about one of the last of a few, a genius cigar-chomping engineer who shaped the modern world.
 
We've mentioned Captain H.J. Round on season 1 of the podcast, but we've not heard from him till now - in fact few people have ever heard him. This recording, as far as we know, hasn't been publicly released in its entirety before.
 
Henry Joseph Round worked with Marconi since the turn of the 20th century. His radio direction-finding innovation helped decide the fate of the First World War in The Battle of Jutland, earning him the Military Cross in 1918.
 
Round co-created broadcasting in 1920, when his test transmissions 'went viral', with amateur radio owners tuning in (oh, he helped invent 'tuning in' too) and listening in.
 
He designed the first BBC transmitter and early BBC microphones. Away from broadcasting, he developed radar and sonar, and stumbled on electroluminescence 50 years before it was rediscovered in the modern LED.
 
In this episode, you'll hear his acceptance speech after being awarded the Armstrong Medal by the Radio Club of America on December 12th 1952. Many thanks to Captain Round's grandson David Jervis for sharing this recording with us.
 
If you understand even most of it, I'll be very impressed! It's technical, and it's thorough.

There are tales too of Dame Nellie Melba's famous broadcast, of Marconi, of applying for a job with Edison (but Edison wasn't paying enough), and so much more. My advice: lose yourself in a nostalgic, sometimes unfathomable world of thermionic valves and often incomprehensible jargon. Treat it like a hedge maze: enjoy being lost, knowing someone has carefully built this.
 
You'll hear:
- Harry Hobb’s citation and awarding of the medal
- Round on working for Marconi’s in America, inc transmitters in Babylon, NY and Riverhead, NY 
- Round in search of food at Cape Race, Newfoundland
- Marconi’s in England, inc. the Melba broadcast
- The Marconi Company later years

- Other places referenced include Glace Bay in Nova Scotia, Clifden in Ireland, and Chelmsford in Essex.

 
Then you'll hear E Howard Armstrong's tribute. On the night that came first, but for this podcast I've moved it to the end of the podcast. Armstrong covers WWI's Battle of Jutland and Round’s radio direction-finding innovation.
 
There is plenty more reading matter here:
 
Listener Alan Pemberton has kindly made us a helpful glossary, explaining a few of the terms in Captain Round's speech: Find it here on our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/BBCentury/posts/246631957055981 
 
We're unaffiliated with the BBC - in fact we're just one person - it's me, Paul, hello.
 
So to help us spread word of this small project, please do rate/review/rant about it on social media - it's always hugely appreciated and really helps us reach more ears.
 
If you LOVE the podcast and find some £ in your pocket, paypal.me/paulkerensa helps keep us in books and web-hosting (and the more books we get, the more accurate we'll be!) or patreon.com/paulkerensa also adds extra writing extracts, articles and advance videos from me (not just broadcasting-based, across my other writings too...). Lately that includes a full interview with Diddy David Hamilton - to be included in extracts on season 2 of the podcast.
 
We're on Twitter and have a new Facebook group as well as our Facebook page.
 
My mailing list has more on my upcomings, books, TV shows etc.
 
The recording in this episode has been sent our way by David Jervis - thank you David!
 
Subscribe where you found this podcast to automatically get the next episode - another special.

Ending season 1, here's episode 21 to tie up some loose ends, correct some clarifications and clarify some corrections from our previous 20 episodes on the prehistory of the BBC, radio and life as we know it.

There's also an exclusive wide-ranging interview with TV presenter (Get Fresh, How 2), podcaster (Gareth Jones on Speed) and science enthusiast Gareth Jones, known for a brief spell on children's TV as Gaz Top. Find more on his podcast via his website, or his clips 'n' films on Youtube

Next episode we'll begin a run of 'specials' before we embark on season 2.

But first on this episode:

Back on episode 1, we covered the first radio entertainment programme... but we DIDN'T cover the first radio entertainment in Britain. So we'll meet Lieutenant Crauford on the good shop Andromeda, in 1907. Then in 1917, there's Captain and Mrs Donisthorpe cycling to and fro in a field in Worcester, to check if each other heard them transmit.

On episode 16, we talked about the first broadcast comedian Helena Millais... but we DIDN'T cover some of the other turns vying for the crown: Will Hay, M'Lita Dolores, Wilfrid Liddiatt, Peggy Rae (mother of Peter Sellers), Charles Cory, William Parkyn, Herbert Dickeson, Ernie Mayne...

We delve into Will Hay's 1922 stage revue Listening In - you can see a silent clip of it here.

Ernie Mayne's Wireless on the Brain can be heard on Youtube, and you can hear more of Ernie and other music hall performers on Earl Okin's podcast, ep138 or older episodes here.

We also zoom in on who the BBC's first four employees actually were - and how it depends how you define 'employees'. (We reckon the first 9ish were Burrows, Lewis, Jefferies, Anderson, Reith, Edgar, Palmer, Shields, Eckersley...)
 
Your thoughts are welcome on this and everything broadcasting-history-based - email me with anything, including your AMs (recorded Airwave Memories - a minute or so of you speaking into a Voice Memo with your earliest memories of radio/TV) or FMs (written memories of when you saw broadcasting in action).
 
 
We also recommend Mark Heywood's Behind the Spine podcast, especially their recent episode with archivists from Paramount and Zoetrope.
 
And we mention Cecil A Lewis' 1924 book Broadcasting From Within. It's the earliest book on broadcasting - I'm reading it at the moment... and you can too! Thanks to the fab BBCEng website, it's here for all to read.
 
We're unaffiliated with the BBC - in fact we're just one person - it's me, Paul, hello.
 
So to help us spread word of this small project, please do rate/review/rant about it on social media - it's always hugely appreciated and really helps us reach more ears.
 
If you LOVE the podcast and find some £ in your pocket, paypal.me/paulkerensa helps keep us in books and web-hosting (and the more books we get, the more accurate we'll be!) or patreon.com/paulkerensa also adds extra writing extracts, articles and advance videos from me (not just broadcasting-based, across my other writings too...). I thank you!
 

Find us on Twitter - and especially our new Facebook group, which is a nice community of sharings and findings, as well as our Facebook page, which is more me telling you when the next episode is here. Subscribe of course, and you'll get the next episode automatically.

My mailing list has more on my upcomings, books, TV shows etc.

Our clips are either public domain or the BBC's, to whom we doff our caps, and thank them... or we've been unable to track down the rights-holders, but the clips are OOOOOLD, so we believe them to be a-ok. If you disagree and own a clip we've got, we'll gladly remove anything.

We're just here to tell a good (hi)story: to inform, educate and entertain.

Merry listening! Now, do you hear what I hear?

Join our sleigh ride back to Christmas 1922, and delve deep into our pod-sack to discover what the BBC was broadcasting in its first Christmas.

Includes: the first religious broadcast from Rev John Mayo, the first play written for radio in The Truth About Father Christmas, the BBC's first celebrity guest, the first radio talk ('Christmas among the Blind'), carols, Peter Pan, comedy from Fred Gibson and Helena Millais... and that's just from the London 2LO station.

Birmingham 5IT gives us Dickens, the Birmingham City Police Band and no-shows, so listeners rush to the studio to help out.

Manchester 2ZY brings ghost stories and Handel's Messiah.

And Newcastle 5NO launches; hear the first station boss on how he funded it from his own pocket.

Plus other radio Christmases: Carols from King's, the first royal Christmas broadcast, a Cornish play called Bethlehem, a wax cylinder recording from 1898...

Our guest is Xmas Xpert James Cooper from whychristmas.com - head there for all your online Christmas needs.

Paul reads from his festive history book Hark! The Biography of Christmas. Signed copies available from Paul; unsigned copies available from your friendly local bookshop.

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Thanks for supporting the podcast. Your kind donations at ko-fi.com/paulkerensa or patreon.com/paulkerensa have helped fund books, that fuel these episodes, or hosting, that keeps us online.

Your ratings/reviewings/sharings are equally welcome. Thanks!

Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul's mailing list has more on his upcomings, inc. the next series of Not Going Out.

Be on the podcast next year: email us a 2min audio clip of an Airwave Memory, recorded as a Voice Memo - your earliest memories of radio or TV.

Clips are either public domain or the BBC's, to whom we doff our caps, and thank them.

We're unaffiliated with the BBC - we're just here to inform, educate, entertain and wish you a Merry Christmas.

www.paulkerensa.com

...and the Midlands, as Birmingham and Manchester join the party. We revisit the second day of the BBC: November 15th 1922.

Also, how Manchester launched the first BBC children's programmes, how Birmingham had the BBC's first live music, and how London needed to tweak their microphone. All on election day, so just before the first Election Night Special.

You'll also hear of the bizarre Birmingham fog that delayed launch - and bizarrer still, how ANOTHER Birmingham fog delayed The Settlers from reaching a studio, 40 years later. From that band, Cindy Kent is our guest, recalling being at the BBC as the Light Programme became Radio 1 in 1967. 

You'll also hear playwright David Edgar reading from the memoirs of his grandfather Percy Edgar, the founding manager of Birmingham 5IT. (For the full reading of that, just wait 3 episodes...)

From the archives, we've also got the voices of Kenneth Wright and Hugh Bell of 2ZY Manchester, both there on that launch day in 1922.

Plus Newspaper Detective Andrew Barker returns with what the printed press thought about this two-day-old upstart... broadcasting.

-----

Thanks for supporting the podcast. Your kind donations at ko-fi.com/paulkerensa or patreon.com/paulkerensa have helped fund books, that fuel these episodes, or hosting, that keeps us online.

Your ratings/reviewings/sharings are equally welcome. Thanks!

Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul's mailing list has more on his upcomings, inc. the next series of Not Going Out.

Paul's festive history book Hark! The Biography of Christmas is in audiobook (Listen free via an Audible free trial here if you've not had one before). If you'd like to order a signed paperback copy, email Paul. You can also use that to send us a 2min audio clip of an Airwave Memory to include on the show.

Clips are either public domain or the BBC's, to whom we doff our caps, and thank them.

We're unaffiliated with the BBC - we're just here to inform, educate and entertain about its wondrous origins.

Happy listening!

"You know, this broadcasting is going to be jolly good fun."

...That adlib ended the very first BBC broadcast, given by Arthur Burrows on November 14th, 1922 - and re-enacted on this special birthday episode. 

Yes we've made it! After 17 episodes building up to the big launch, the BBC is on air.

This episode lands on the Beeb's 98th birthday - and to celebrate, we've done something that we THINK is a first: a complete reconstruction of the very first BBC broadcast.

Well, not a complete reconstruction... because Arthur Burrows read the news bulletin twice, once at a normal speed, and once slow. We've spared you the slow version - because the normal speed was slow enough. Just listen back to it again straight away after, on 0.5x speed setting.

We include the precise news items in the right order - weather first, shutdown after 7 minutes - so it's as accurate as can be, thanks to Andrew Barker (who excellently researched and wrote the bulletin), Will Farmer (who gave us the tuning organ and tubular bells, plus the original podcast music) and Tim Wander (who checked for errors and has written many marvellous books about all this).

After that re-enactment, we dissect, fill in the gaps, and generally inform, educate and entertain about day 1 of Auntie Beeb. Plus more from the mighty Emperor Rosko.

That full 10min re-enactment is also on Youtube here, or an edited, more palatable 2min version is here. Feel free to share, broadcast and do as you wish with them - get the story out there by all means.

Speaking of which, Tim Wander's plays, on some earlier parts of broadcasting history, can be watched online here:

- The Power Behind the Microphone: A centenary celebration of Dame Nellie Melba's historic broadcast from Chelmsford

- Voices over Passchendaele: Peter Eckersley's war years

- The Man Behind the Microphone: Peter Eckersley's Writtle/BBC years

This podcast continues thanks to your support - it's bought us books that have spawned entire episodes. So thank you if you've visited ko-fi.com/paulkerensa and tipped £3 or more, or patreon.com/paulkerensa and helped us with £5 or more a month (with perks in return). If you've not, you know where they are.

We're on Facebook and Twitter with accompanying pics and other details.

If you'd rate and review this podcast wherever you found it, that helps others find it too. Thanks!

Do subscribe to get future episodes direct to your device.

Join Paul's mailing list for more info on his goings-on. 

Clips are public domain as far as we know. They're old. We're happy to be corrected on that.

We're nothing to do with the BBC - we're just here to talk about their origins and wish them happy birthday.

Here's to the next 98!

 

We're nearly there! Episode 17 zooms in on the pre-BBC fortnight. You'd have thought everything's in place by now, right?

Not quite - just the tiny non-controversial matters of the licence fee and allegations of bias to deal with first. Good job they're all sorted now...

We've got archive reminiscences from pioneer Peter Eckersley and the return of Newspaper Detective Andrew Barker, who also gives us an Airwave Memory (email a clip of yours for next season: paul@paulkerensa.com)

We mention CenturiesofSound.com - try their 1922 mix for starters.

We also mention Tim Wander's search for Melba's voice - read the Times article here.

We're on Facebook and Twitter, with lots more supporting pics and links there.

Support the show at patreon.com/paulkerensa has regular perks, advance things - not all to do with the podcast, but some. There's also advance writing and videos from Paul.

...or support the show by sharing/rating/reviewing the show. Thanks!

Join Paul's mailing list for updates on his writing, gigs, podcasts, videos etc.

Paul's festive history book Hark! The Biography of Christmas is now in audiobook form. Get it for free via an Audible free trial here if you've not had one before.

Thanks to Will Farmer for composing the original music.

Archive clips are either public domain or private domain from long enough ago... but if you own a clip, say and we'll remove it. We're just here to inform, educate and entertain.

This podcast is in no way affiliated with the BBC. You knew that. We say it every time.

Next time, the launch of the BBC! Including a re-enactment of the very first broadcast. It'll land on November 14th, the 98th anniversary of the BBC, so listen on the day of release. The day of the podcast's release, that is, not the day of your release. Although this episode's recorded during a lockdown, so... anyway, happy listening.

www.paulkerensa.com

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