50 years of commercial radio milestones

50 years of commercial radio milestones
The first legal commercial radio broadcast for LBC on 8 October 1973. Credit Radiocentre.
Feature: 50 Years of Commercial Radio

What was the first national commercial station and when did it first broadcast? When was the first joint radio app launched? When was the first commercial broadcast on DAB? Find these answers and more below.

As the finale to our feature series on the 50th anniversary of commercial radio’s first licensed broadcast, we have produced a timeline of the major milestones for the medium.

Commercial radio’s 50-year history began as LBC, then called the London Broadcasting Company, put out its first broadcast at 6am on 8 October 1973.

By 1976 there were 19 commercial stations on air and now according to Ofcom there are just over a thousand radio services currently broadcasting under license.

Matt Payton, Radiocentre CEO commented on the anniversary and what it means for commercial radio. “We owe so much to those early pioneers who founded, ran and presented on the first commercial radio stations. Without them we simply wouldn’t be where we are today. While the industry and the way we consume radio has changed over the past 50 years, radio’s unique ability to entertain, inform, and connect with communities all over the country remains stronger than ever. It’s a testament to the power of the medium and the people who work in our industry that it continues to thrive. The Government’s support for radio within the Media Bill recognises its enduring and trusted role for audiences.”

Commercial radio now has record audiences (39.2 million), revenues (£740m) and share (54.5%) according to the latest Rajar figures.

From the launches of local, national and specialist stations to the formation of trade bodies, mergers of radio giants, to new technologies, trading systems, and measurement frameworks, find our interactive timeline here.


This timeline was produced by Adwanted Audio — the team behind J-ET and Audiotrack.
Adwanted UK are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine. To access our audio industry directory, visit audioscape.info and to find your new job in audio visit The Media Leader Jobs, a dedicated marketplace for media, advertising and adtech roles.

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