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History of Radio Broadcasting in the UK

The story of radio in the UK is a fascinating one - the pioneering days of broadcasting from Essex, war-time radio, the rusty ships in the 1960s, and the globalised stations that we know and listen to today. Here's a look at the early days.


Radio broadcasting as we know it today, started back in 1920, with pioneering broadcasts from the Marconi team in Chelmsford, Essex.

Shortwave Radio TransmitterOn the 15th of June 1920, from a 15 kilowatt transmitter and under the callsign of MZX ("Marconi Zulu X-ray"), Dame Nellie Melba broadcast a now world-famous radio broadcast. Dame Melba's fee was paid for by the Daily Mail, and the signals could be received hundreds of miles away by the lucky few who owned a radio receiver.

Shortly after this, 2MT in Writtle, then 2LO began regular transmissions, heralding the British Broadcasting Company, and the rest is history.


Ninety Year Commemoration

June the 15th 2010 marked a special 90th anniversary. To pay homage to those pioneering radio days, a group of Amateur Radio enthusiasts met in Chelmsford, the birthplace of radio, to remember the Dame Melba broadcasts.

Our team was there, and met with the Chairman of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society, John Bowen. As well as talking about those historic days in the 1920s, he also discussed the new DAB digital radio technology, what it means to be a radio ham, how to transmit to the moon, and the threat to shortwave radio.

Anyone with even a passing interest in radio should take a listen to the 20 minute exclusive interview:

MicrophoneListen to our 90 Years of Radio interview with the
Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society (June 2010)

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Thanks to John Bowen G8DET for talking to us, and his colleagues John G1UZD and Colin G0TRM for their contributions.

CARS team photo

John G1ZUD (Radio operator), John G8DET (Chairman) and Colin G0TRM (Morse)


Chelmsford Museum
Chelmsford Museum, venue for the 90th anniversary exhibition

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