The Voice of the BBC looks back to the BBC’s first broadcast on 14 November 1922: a moment when radio listening changed from a specialist hobby to a national pastime. This small exhibition explores early radio, from the performer in front of the microphone, through transmission, and finally to listeners across the country.
In the early 20th century, radio underwent a rapid transformation. Unlike existing communications technologies, such as the telegraph and the telephone, radio could provide information and entertainment to thousands of people simultaneously.
By the 1920s demand for radio was difficult to ignore and countries around the world had to decide how to use and regulate it. The exhibition marks the moment when a British idea of broadcasting began.
At its heart is part of the ‘2LO’ transmitter. Originally located in Marconi House on the Strand, London, 2LO was the station from which early BBC programmes were transmitted. Before each show the presenter would announce, ‘This is 2LO, London Broadcasting Station calling!’ Though this transmitter was replaced in 1925 it continues to symbolise the excitement and creativity of the early days of broadcasting.
On 14 November 2012, to mark the 90th anniversary of this first broadcast, the BBC will transmit a special edition of Simon Mayo’s Drivetime from the Science Museum. At 17.33 a composition by Damon Albarn entitled Radio Reunited will be transmitted across more than 60 BBC stations.