University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Independent Local Radio (ILR) in the West Midlands, 1972-1984: a Comparative Study of BRMB Radio and Beacon Radio.

Allen, D.P. (2011) Independent Local Radio (ILR) in the West Midlands, 1972-1984: a Comparative Study of BRMB Radio and Beacon Radio. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Independent_Local_Radio_(ILR)_in_the_West_Midlands,_1972-198.pdf - Accepted Version

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Informed by theory and debate associated with the field of media studies, this thesis presents a comparative analysis of two Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations in the West Midlands between 1972 and the mid 1980s: BRMB Radio in Birmingham and Beacon Radio, which served Wolverhampton and the Black Country. It locates the two stations in the context of the development of British broadcasting policy, which had been shaped from the start by the British model of public service broadcasting. ILR was a public radio service which was funded by the sale of advertising time. Similar to commercial radio elsewhere, the survival of BRMB and Beacon Radio depended on the income they could generate, but the commercial imperative was constrained by the legislative and regulatory framework of British public service broadcasting. The thesis argues that the fortunes of the two stations depended largely on the approaches taken by their respective management teams to these conflicting influences.
The success or failure of an ILR station, in terms of profit or programming, was shaped by its management team. BRMB Radio was an example of a station with an appropriate balance of experience and expertise. From the beginning it was headed by a managing director with a commercial background and a programme controller who was experienced in regulated public service broadcasting. In contrast, Beacon Radio was a station with the wrong people in charge. Both the managing director and the programme controller were from a commercial broadcasting background, and their approach brought the station into conflict with the Independent Broadcasting Authority, ILR‟s regulator. Almost every aspect of the Beacon operation was designed to make money. The profit motive took precedence over the fulfilment of its public service obligations. Beacon‟s deficiencies in terms of local coverage and its aggressive sales tactics caused some parts of the local community to reject the station, with some calling on the IBA to remove the Beacon licence.
Formulating the correct type of programmes and working with the regulator was a necessity. To generate revenue a station needed to sell an audience to advertisers. To build an audience it had to create programming to which listeners could relate. Music policy, the personality of presenters, and predictability of output were specifically relevant to BRMB and Beacon. Above all, each station had to have access to the airwaves, and with the IBA as gatekeeper to the airwaves it had to abide by its rules and regulations, especially those relating to programming and content. This was exemplified by the case of Beacon Radio: it was only after the IBA had refused to renew its licence that Beacon recognised the importance of having programmes which met the prescribed standard of quality and public service, and working with the regulator and not against it.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University‟s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A print version of this PhD thesis is held on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Independent Local Radio, ILR, West Midlands
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2011 07:55
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:24

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