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When the British Broadcasting Company first began transmissions on 14 November 1922 from the station 2LO in the Strand, Westminster, which it had inherited from the Marconi Company (one of the six commercial companies which created the BBC), the technology did not exist either for national coverage or for joint programming between transmitters. Whilst it was possible to combine large numbers of trunk telephone lines to link transmitters for individual programmes, the process was expensive and not encouraged by the General Post Office as it tied up large parts of the telephone network. The stations that followed the establishment of 2LO in London were therefore autonomously programmed using local talent and facilities.
By May 1923, simultaneous broadcasting was technically possible, at least between main transmitters and relay stations, but the quality was not felt to be high enough to provide a national service or regular simultaneous broadcasts.
In 1924, it was felt that technical standards had improved enough for London to start to provide the majority of the output, cutting the local stations back to providing items of local interest.
Each of these stations broadcast at approximately 1 kW.
|Airdate||Station ID||City||Initial Frequency|
|14 November 1922||2LO||London||822 kHz|
|15 November 1922||5IT||Birmingham||626 kHz|
|15 November 1922||2ZY||Manchester||794 kHz|
|24 December 1922||5NO||Newcastle upon Tyne||743 kHz|
|13 February 1923||5WA||Cardiff||850 kHz|
|6 March 1923||5SC||Glasgow||711 kHz|
|10 October 1923||2BD||Aberdeen||606 kHz|
|17 October 1923||6BM||Bournemouth||777 kHz|
|16 November 1923||2FL||Sheffield||980 kHz|
|28 March 1924||5PY||Plymouth||887 kHz|
|14 September 1924||2BE||Belfast||682 kHz|
Each of these stations broadcast at approximately 120 W
|Airdate||Station ID||City||Relay of||Frequency|
|1 May 1924||2EH||Edinburgh||5SC||914 kHz|
|11 June 1924||6LV||Liverpool||2ZY||906 kHz|
|8 July 1924||2LS||Leeds and Bradford||2ZY||935 kHz|
|15 August 1924||6KH||Kingston-upon-Hull||2ZY||896 kHz|
|16 September 1924||5NG||Nottingham||2ZY||920 kHz|
|9 November 1924||2DE||Dundee||2BD||952 kHz|
|21 November 1924||6ST||Stoke-on-Trent||2ZY||996 kHz|
|12 December 1924||5SX||Swansea||5WA||622 kHz|
On 21 August 1927, the BBC opened a high power mediumwave transmitter at the Daventry 5GB site, to replace the existing local stations in the English Midlands. That allowed the experimental longwave transmitter 5XX to provide a service programmed from London for the majority of the population. This came to be called the BBC National Programme.
By combining the resources of the local stations into one regional station in each area, with a basic sustaining service from London, the BBC hoped to increase programme quality whilst also centralising the management of the radio service. This was known as The Regional Scheme.
The local transmitters were gradually either converted to a regional service relay or closed entirely and replaced by high power regional broadcasts. Some local studios were retained to provide for programming from specific areas within each region. Most transmitters also carried the BBC National Programme on a local frequency to supplement the longwave broadcasts from 5XX, Scotland receiving a modified service known as the "Scottish National Programme".
|Airdate||Transmitter||Region||Initial frequency||Frequency in 1939|
|21 August 1927||Daventry (a)||Midland||767 kHz|
|21 October 1929||Brookmans Park (b)||Basic Regional Programme (London)||842 kHz||877 kHz|
|17 May 1931||Moorside Edge||North||626 kHz||668 kHz|
|13 September 1931||Westerglen||Scottish||797 kHz||767 kHz|
|28 May 1933||Washford (c)||West||968 kHz||1050 kHz|
|17 February 1935||Droitwich||Midland||1013 kHz||1013 kHz|
|20 March 1936||Lisnagarvey||Northern Ireland (opt-out from North)||977 kHz||977 kHz|
|12 October 1936||Burghead||Scottish (for northern Scotland)||767 kHz||767 kHz|
|1 February 1937||Penmon||Welsh (West and Wales until 4 July)||804 kHz||804 kHz|
|4 July 1937||Washford||Welsh||804 kHz||804 kHz|
|19 October 1937||Stagshaw||North East and Cumbria (opt-out from North)||1122 kHz||1122 kHz|
|14 June 1939||Clevedon||West||1474 kHz||1474 kHz|
|14 June 1939||Start Point||West||1050 kHz||1050 kHz|
(a) Until 16 February 1935.
(b) The Brookmans Park transmitter covered London, South East England, and much of East Anglia. However, as the sustaining service for the rest of the network, the London programme was not normally referred to as such on-air or in the Radio Times, but simply as the "Regional Programme" (internally, "the basic Regional programme").
(c) Until 13 June 1939.
Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the Regional Programme and combined it with the National Programme to form a single channel known as the BBC Home Service. The former transmitters of the Regional Programme continued to be used to broadcast this service, but their frequencies were changed and synchronized in order to allow them all to transmit on just two wavelengths (668 and 767 kHz) which, in the event of air raids, could be turned off in sequence to prevent their signals being used as navigational beacons by enemy aircraft.
On 29 July 1945, within 12 weeks of Victory in Europe Day, the BBC reintroduced a regional service, but kept the name "BBC Home Service". The transmitters and frequencies which had been used prewar by the National Programme (the most powerful of which was 200 kHz longwave) were transferred on the same date to a new BBC Light Programme.
Both the Regional Programme and the National Programme provided a mixed mainstream radio service. Whilst the two services provided different programming, allowing listeners a choice, they were not streamed to appeal to different audiences. Therefore, the pre-war Regional Programme, whilst using the same regions, frequencies and transmitters as the post-war Home Service, was not the middlebrow news and drama station its successor became. Similarly. the pre-war National Programme was not the general entertainment network its successor the Light Programme became.
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