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The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

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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. Continue Reading >>
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. << Show Less
Featured Audio
SPECIAL: Early Black British Broadcasters - with Stephen Bourne How many pre-WW2 black British broadcasters can you name?
We’ll let's change that after this episode: summer special no.2 from The British Broadcasting Century...
EARLY BLACK BRITISH BROADCASTERS - WITH STEPHEN BOURNE
Author and social historian Stephen Bourne specialises in black heritage, and joins us to inform, educate and entertain us about people of colour on air between the wars.
I first encountered Stephen’s work when I spotted Evelyn Dove’s scrapbook in the BBC100 ‘Objects of the BBC’ season. Stephen owns her archive, and was keen to chat about some of the early black stars of British broadcasting.
You'll hear about:
Layton and Johnstone, Lawrence Brown, Paul Robeson, Marion Anderson, Evelyn Dove, The Kentucky Minstrels, Scott and Whaley (aka Pussyfoot and Cuthbert), Elisabeth Welch, Una Marson, Ken Snakehips Johnson, Adelaide Hall... and more.
Separately, you’ll also hear a song from singer Kathie Touin – a new exclusive version of one of the earliest songs about wireless: ‘There’s a Wireless Station Down in My Heart’. Thanks Graham Brown and Kathie Touin for arranging, performing and sending! Details of her album below...
SHOWNOTES:
Stephen Bourne’s books are available at stephenbourne.co.uk/books/ and include ‘Deep are the Roots: Trailblazers who Changed Black British Theatre’, ‘Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen’, ‘Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television’ and ‘Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45’. Do grab a book and read more on this – plenty more stories to discover.
Kathie Touin’s website has more on her albums and singles: www.kathietouin.com. Kathie's lockdown single was ‘This Time (Save the World?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kToCUypZWic Thanks Kathie!
See/hear a clip of Una Marson from West Indies Calling – well worth a watch: https://youtu.be/ViGwxJloI70
I told a tale of broadcasting history on the proper BBC this week: a Pause for Thought for Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show on 100 years since the first religious broadcast. Have a listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0cr3ghj
If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.
If you like the podcast enough to want to support it, help it continue, £5/mth on www.patreon.com/paulkerensa gets you extra behind-the-scenes videos, written updates, filmed walking tours of broadcasting heritage sites, readings from the first ever book on broadcasting... and anything else you'd like. You request, I'll see what I can do! Thanks for £supporting - it keeps me in books and web hosting.
We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury
We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.

One more author special next time: The BBC in WW2: Auntie’s War with Edward Stourton. Then the timeline continues - Feb 1923 at the early Beeb...
Newest Audio
SPECIAL: Early Black British Broadcasters - with Stephen Bourne How many pre-WW2 black British broadcasters can you name?
We’ll let's change that after this episode: summer special no.2 from The British Broadcasting Century...
EARLY BLACK BRITISH BROADCASTERS - WITH STEPHEN BOURNE
Author and social historian Stephen Bourne specialises in black heritage, and joins us to inform, educate and entertain us about people of colour on air between the wars.
I first encountered Stephen’s work when I spotted Evelyn Dove’s scrapbook in the BBC100 ‘Objects of the BBC’ season. Stephen owns her archive, and was keen to chat about some of the early black stars of British broadcasting.
You'll hear about:
Layton and Johnstone, Lawrence Brown, Paul Robeson, Marion Anderson, Evelyn Dove, The Kentucky Minstrels, Scott and Whaley (aka Pussyfoot and Cuthbert), Elisabeth Welch, Una Marson, Ken Snakehips Johnson, Adelaide Hall... and more.
Separately, you’ll also hear a song from singer Kathie Touin – a new exclusive version of one of the earliest songs about wireless: ‘There’s a Wireless Station Down in My Heart’. Thanks Graham Brown and Kathie Touin for arranging, performing and sending! Details of her album below...
SHOWNOTES:
Stephen Bourne’s books are available at stephenbourne.co.uk/books/ and include ‘Deep are the Roots: Trailblazers who Changed Black British Theatre’, ‘Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen’, ‘Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television’ and ‘Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45’. Do grab a book and read more on this – plenty more stories to discover.
Kathie Touin’s website has more on her albums and singles: www.kathietouin.com. Kathie's lockdown single was ‘This Time (Save the World?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kToCUypZWic Thanks Kathie!
See/hear a clip of Una Marson from West Indies Calling – well worth a watch: https://youtu.be/ViGwxJloI70
I told a tale of broadcasting history on the proper BBC this week: a Pause for Thought for Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show on 100 years since the first religious broadcast. Have a listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0cr3ghj
If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.
If you like the podcast enough to want to support it, help it continue, £5/mth on www.patreon.com/paulkerensa gets you extra behind-the-scenes videos, written updates, filmed walking tours of broadcasting heritage sites, readings from the first ever book on broadcasting... and anything else you'd like. You request, I'll see what I can do! Thanks for £supporting - it keeps me in books and web hosting.
We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury
We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.

One more author special next time: The BBC in WW2: Auntie’s War with Edward Stourton. Then the timeline continues - Feb 1923 at the early Beeb...
SPECIAL: Hilda Matheson and the Radio Girls of Savoy Hill - with Sarah-Jane Stratford Summer special time!
The first of three episodes outside of our era, our regular timeline we're telling of the early BBC. Instead we leap from 1923 to 1926 and then some, to meet:
HILDA MATHESON AND THE RADIO GIRLS OF SAVOY HILL
...Your guide is Sarah-Jane Stratford - novelist behind Radio Girls. It's a wonderfully evocative book, and a great summer read. Get your copy now!
We talk about Hilda Matheson's legacy, from first Director of Talks, to her relationship with Vita Sackville-West, to Hilda's positive influence on the BBC in dark times during the build-up to World War Two.
If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.
I mention a walking video I did for the Patreon connoisseurs - matrons and patrons can see it here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/68777192 - and do consider joining up, as your few quid will help keep the podcast going. 
We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury
We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.
Next time: The earliest black British broadcasters, with Stephen Bourne.
It’s That Man Again! Peter Eckersley - 1st BBC Chief Engineer Episode 49 and that old favourite Peter Eckersley returns - he's started regular British broadcasting, helped spark a boom in radio sets, mocked the BBC, been inspired by the first OB to join Auntie Beeb... and now this episode, he's hired.
In this bumper episode, we hear from Eckersley expert Tim Wander, and PPE himself, as well as Noel Ashbridge and Rolls Wynn. Plus our special guest: Professor David Hendy, author of The BBC: A People's History, on the pioneer years.
This is the last of our regular timeline type shows for the summer - but next time, author interviews, with Sarah-Jane Stratford, then Stephen Bourne and Edward Stourton. Stay subscribed, and please rate/review us if you can. It all helps spread word.
David Hendy's book The BBC: A People's History is here and in all good bookshops: https://amzn.to/3ap1l1y
Patreon supporters can see the full 55min video interview with David Hendy here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/65412562
We mention the documentary in 2BP, Ireland's first radio station. Nothing to do with us, but it's here and it fills in a few gaps: https://www.mixcloud.com/TheIrishPirateRadioExhibition/the-history-of-2bp-irelands-first-radio-station-in-1923/?fbclid=IwAR0dVFIPWwlCcQhyQ4OOYd2UvSwGkKqoqORmvsiN2QA8LI3fscW79Mvlwc8
We mention Peter Eckersley's book The Power Behind the Microphone. You can read it online as a PDF here: https://worldradiohistory.com/BOOKSHELF-ARH/History/The-Power-Behind-The-Microphone-Eckersley-1941.pdf
Join us on social media: www.twitter.com/bbcentury, www.facebook.com/bbcentury
Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music.
We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely a solo-run operation.
Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
Subscribe, share, rate, review us - it all helps!

Next time: Summer specials!
linktr.ee/paulkerensa
Daimler, 5MG and 2BP: The In-Car Radios of 1923 "There's not a lot written about 2BP," says our guest Tony Currie, radio historian, author and presenter. And yet for episode 48, we've wrung a whole 40mins out of it!
In January 1923, the BBC had sole right to broadcast in Britain, and yet a couple of experimental radio stations existed in Glasgow. 5MG had been on the air since October, operated by shop-owners Frank Milligan and George Garscadden, just to sell some wireless sets. And Daimler wanted to sell something too - in-car radios. So they set up a temporary station, 2BP, at the Glasgow Motor Show.
Pull over and hear all about it. Plus from Scotland to Somerset: hear Neil Wilson's tour of his wonderful Radio Museum in Watchet.
See the full 20mins Radio Museum tour here: https://youtu.be/ZjDXKQ63RaI
Visit the Radio Museum in Watchet - details here: https://www.radiomuseum.uk
Come and see my show The First Broadcast, in Watchet, in conjunction with the Radio Museum - or in Ludlow, Bedford, Tunbridge Walls, Guildford, Salford, Chelmsford, London, Isle of Wight... paulkerensa.com/tour
Thanks Tony Currie for the expert knowledge and loan of his documentary on Scotland's Radio. Tony's books include The Radio Times Story - and his radio station is Radio Six: https://www.radiosix.com
Find us on Twitter: twitter.com/bbcentury
Or Facebook: Facebook.com/bbcentury
Help us on Patreon - thanks if you do! patreon.com/paulkerensa 
Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music.
We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely a solo-run operation.
Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
Subscribe, share, rate, review us - it all helps!

Next time: Peter Eckersley joins the BBC as its first Chief Engineer... and Professor David Hendy joins us for a chat.
paulkerensa.com
”Hark, The Engine’s Failing”: The Closedown of 2MT Writtle January 17th 1923: 2MT Writtle, Britain's first regular broadcasting station, closes down for the last time.
Its chief voice, director of programmes, Lord of Misrule Peter Pendleton Eckersley toasts its listeners with a glass of water, upgraded to champagne via the use of a pop gun - innovating to the last with one of radio's first ever sound effects. Then Eckersley, the first BBC-basher, switched sides and promptly joined the BBC, as its first Chief Engineer.
On episode 47, we've reached the moment where the BBC's peculiar airwaves rival finally shuffles off the ether, having somehow given birth to Auntie Beeb, but outserved its purpose. We tell the full story of how, why, whereupon and whomsoever led to the 2MT closedown, plus we review nearly a year of Writtle broadcasts, including the first radio quiz, first radio play and first radio mockery of a different radio station's chimes.
You'll hear the voices of (and we're indebted to) original radio pioneers Peter Eckersley, Noel Ashbridge and Rolls Wynn, and present-day experts and fans Tim Wander, Jim Salmon, CRH News, and granddaughters of PPE, Caroline and Alison Eckersley - they chatted to CRH News, who've kindly loaned us their audio.
 
FURTHER READING/LISTENING/VIEWING:
Tim Wander's new book is 2MT Writtle 1922-2022: The Centenary of British Radio Broadcasting, and is available at https://2mtwrittle100.co.uk
Tim's other books are at https://marconibooks.co.uk
Thanks to CRH News for the loan of their audio of their video interview with Caroline and Alison Eckersley. Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/AMFKrsRVd5c - and see the rest of the CRH News Youtube channel for more videos, inc of Tim Wander's book launch.
The video of the walk I did with Jim Salmon, from Writtle hut to Writtle pub, is a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/66447373
The video of the Radio Museum tour (in Watchet, Somerset) is also a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/65666411
...Most videos I keep for Patreon supporters only - so, become one? It all supports the podcast, which otherwise, I'm doing for £nowt. Chip in at patreon.com/paulkerensa - starting at £5/mth. It helps keep the podcast going, AND you get behind-the-scenes vids etc in return.
The tour? The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 heads to Kettering, Worthing, Ludlow, Watchet (pop into the Radio Museum while there?), Tunbridge Wells, St Albans, Salford, Guildford, Isle of Wight, Cheltenham (pop to Writtle while there?) - details of all paulkerensa.com/tour - say 'Hullo, hullo" if you come!
Thanks to Andrew Barker our Newspaper Detective, Will Farmer our composer of original music, the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham, and the team effort of above names who've made this episode possible.
Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC whatsoever - just a solo operation.

Find us on Twitter, follow our Facebook page, and join our Facebook group. Please share what we do online - it all helps find us new listeners and grow this lil' project into something bigger.
Linktree.com/paulkerensa has Paul's mailing list and details of his books, including Hark! The Biography of Christmas, on the history of Christmas. Coming soon: Auntie and Uncles, the novel on this here broadcasting origin story...

 
NEXT TIME: The only other legal rival to the BBC on the air in 1923: The Daimler in-car radio broadcasts...
Thanks for listening!
paulkerensa.com
Justin Webb on Leonard Crocombe... and January 1923 For episode 46 we're joined by one of today's (and Today's) top broadcasters: Justin Webb. Justin's new book 'The Gift of a Radio: My Childhood and Other Train Wrecks' chronicles his lifelong partnership with radio, from an unusual childhood improved by the arrival of an ITT Tiny Super radio, to anchoring the Radio 4's Today programme.
But he's just the latest of 3 generations of broadcaster in his family. Justin's grandfather Leonard Crocombe was not only the first Radio Times editor, but also briefly a broadcaster in 1923 - something which even Justin didn't know. Hear Leonard Crocombe tell a tale or two...
Plus we continue to tell our own tale, of the broadcasting in January 1923 - from reactions to the first OBs to the Veterans of Variety, via Burns Night, Dame Nellie Melba reading to the children on Australia Day, and the BBC finally getting its licence.
 
NOTES:
Justin's book is available in all places that sell books, eg here.
Hear more of Leonard Crocombe on this marvellous gramophone record, courtesy of AusRadioHistorian on Youtube: https://youtu.be/6N1-hGjP_2M
In the podcast I talk about my visit to The Radio Museum in Watchet, Somerset. Here's a video tour given to me by owner Neil Wilson. Watchet! I mean, watch it. Then visit it. In Watchet.
I also mention George Robey and Alma Adair's comedy broadcast (thanks Alan Stafford!) - a pic of that moment is here.
Thanks too to Andrew Barker, our Newspaper Detective, for details of the newspaper articles.
The Pause for Thought slot I mention is now on the BBC Sounds app here and there's more on the history of Pause for Thought on Andy Walmsley's great blog: https://andywalmsley.blogspot.com/2020/04/pause-for-thought.html
My tour of The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 continues! See paulkerensa.com/tour for details
Find us on Facebook and Twitter - @bbcentury
Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music
My mailing list is at linktree.com/paulkerensa 
Support the show at patreon.com/paulkerensa - inc behind-the-scenes video tours etc! All tiers get all videos from now on (but not historic videos - they're for £10/mth-ers - but going forward, everyone gets everything new I post - levelling the playing field! Do join.)
We're nothing to do with the BBC, y'hear! 

Thanks for listening.
Next time: The end of 2MT, and Peter Eckersley joins the BBC...
paulkerensa.com
2ZY Manchester and 5IT Birmingham Calling... with Jude Montague Episode 45 sees us still in January 1923, but on the move...
First BBC Director of Programmes Arthur Burrows visits 5IT Birmingham and 2ZY Manchester to see the 2nd and 3rd BBC stations in action - so here's a podcast snapshot of what broadcasting was like in their makeshift studios in British broadcasting's earliest days.
Our guest is Jude Montague, whose grandfather Sydney Wright was an early on-air musician in the 2ZY Wireless Trio. And you'll hear the voices of those who were there: Kenneth Wright, Victor Smythe, Percy Edgar, A.E. Thompson...
Hear of singers toppling off platforms made of books, as they step back for the big final note. Hear of Manchester beating London to be first station to broadcast Big Ben. And hear of the Grenadier Guards Band, cramming 22 performers into a studio space fit for 3.
Jude Montague's website - which will include details of her graphic novel about her grandfather Sydney Wright - is at www.judecowanmontague.com
We mention Tim Wander's talk in Writtle on May 17th and the curry dinner he's hosting on May 23rd: https://cses.org.uk/events?task=civicrm/event/info&reset=1&id=368
My play 'The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922' is on tour all this year, to London, Salford, Devon, Chelmsford and beyond - and bookable for your place. www.paulkerensa.com/tour for dates and tickets.
Email me at https://paulkerensa.com/contact.php for more info on booking the live show, or for anything for the podcast.
For details of Paul's new novel Auntie and Uncles, on the BBC origin story, join the mailing list here: eepurl.com/M6Wbr 
Support the show at www.patreon.com/paulkerensa - and as mentioned in the episode, Patreon superheroes can see my video interview with R4 Today's Justin Webb here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/63833186 ...The audio will be on the next episode.
You can also support the show at www.ko-fi.com/paulkerensa (effectively buying me a coffee) - thanks!
We're on social media at www.Twitter.com/bbcentury and www.facebook.com/bbcentury and www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury - do share what we do, it all helps. 
We are nothing to do with the BBC. Just talking about them.
Original music is by Will Farmer.
More on Paul's books, mailing list etc at www.linktr.ee/paulkerensa

Next time: another grandchild of an early radio wonder: Justin Webb on his grandfather Leonard Crocombe, first editor of the Radio Times.
Thanks for listening!
Hanso Idzerda and The Dutch Concerts - with Gordon Bathgate For episode 44, we go to Holland and go back a few years, to hear of radio pioneer Hanso Idzerda and his Dutch concerts. It's not British broadcasting, but it's British listening - our ancestors could hear his regular broadcasts from 1919 to 1924 - at least if they had a radio set of quality.

Gordon Bathgate is a radio history fan and author of Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves - he guides us through Idzerda's doomed story, in an episode that's less of me, more of him... plus the return of your FMs and AMs - Firsthand Memories of broadcasting in action and an Airwave Memory from Paula Goddard.

Gordon's book is at https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Radio-Broadcasting-Paperback/p/17990 or in all good book places.

My play The First Broadcast is on tour all this year (and bookable for your place): www.paulkerensa.com/tour for dates, places and tickets.

Email me at https://paulkerensa.com/contact.php for more info on booking the live show, or to send me a Firsthand Memory (via text in an email) or an Airwave Memory (record as a voice memo), or with any questions, comments or feedback.

Support the show at www.patreon.com/paulkerensa - and as mentioned in the episode, you can see my video interview with R4 Today's Justin Webb here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/63833186 ...The audio will be part of a future episode, on Justin's career and his grandfather Leonard Crocombe, first editor of the Radio Times.

You can also support the show at www.ko-fi.com/paulkerensa (effectively buying me a coffee) - or by simply sharing these episodes on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, fax, carrier pigeon, down the pub, on the phone, tell your friends, snare us future listeners, help build our little community...

...which includes www.Twitter.com/bbcentury and www.facebook.com/bbcentury and www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury...

...because we are a one-man band, and NOTHING to do with the BBC. They do not endorse nor sponsor nor have anything to do with this podcast. Y'hear?

(...That said, I do work for the BBC now and then - including co-writing the new series of Not Going Out which you can see on TV soon (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0015qdg), and guest-hosting Sunday Breakfast on BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey, which you can hear soon too, eg. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0brm15x) 

Original music is by Will Farmer. Thanks Will!

More on Paul's books, mailing list etc at www.linktr.ee/paulkerensa


Next time: the Birmingham and Manchester stations, inc. an interview with Jude Montague, granddaughter of one of their first broadcasters Sydney Wright.

Thanks for listening!
The First Outside Broadcast: A Night at the Opera! On January 8th 1923, British broadcasting left the studio for the first time. William Crampton had the idea, Arthur Burrows seized on it, John Reith approved it, Cecil Lewis kept interrupting it with stage directions and synopses...

Hear all about it here on episode 43, with the voices of Peter Eckersley, Harold Bishop, Arthur Burrows, A.E. Thompson and Percy Edgar. Plus Dr Kate Murphy tells us about the first radio 'aunt', Aunt Sophie/Cecil Dixon. And what John Reith did for the first time on January 6th. You won't believe it...

This episode is drawn from over a dozen books and the like, including research at the marvellous BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham. What a place! What a team.

Cecil Lewis' book Broadcasting from Within is quoted from extensively, and I'm reading it IN ITS ENTIRETY for our matrons and patrons on Patreon.com/paulkerensa at the 'superhero' level. If you sign up, even for one month and cancel, you're helping keep this podcast afloat, so thank you.

BUT I'm making part 5 of my reading of it available to EVERYONE. This is the except that's all about this first outside broadcast, so if you'd like to hear me read it and talk about it, it's all here for you, whether you're a Patreon subscriber or not: https://www.patreon.com/posts/63268433 - Enjoy!

My play The First Broadcast is touring the land - details at https://www.paulkerensa.com/tour - or get in touch to book it in for your venue. 

Find us on social media at www.twitter.com/bbcentury or www.facebook.com/bbcentury or www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury

And do subscribe, share, rate and review us. It all helps spread this little project, which is NOTHING to do with the BBC - it's just a one-man band.

OTHER THINGS:

Original music is by Will Farmer.

Many of our archive clips are old enough to be public domain. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

This podcast is 100% unofficial and NOTHING to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely run, researched, presented and dogsbodied by Paul Kerensa.

Be on the show! Email me a written ‘Firsthand Memory’ (FM) about a time you’ve seen radio or TV in action. Or record a voice memo of your ‘Airwave Memories’ (AM), 1-2mins of your earliest memories of radio/TV. Get in touch!


Next time: The Birmingham and Holland stations. Yes, Holland...

Happy listening!
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