Last weekend many of todays media types, or at least those with a company who would pick up the bill, were heading down to Salford’s Lowry Centre. This being the venue for the annual Radio Festival. However I made an alternative trip to the Lowry in order to catch the somewhat more reasonably priced (read free) ‘Here’s One We Made Earlier’ exhibit, which closed last Sunday.
As you may expect the exhibit focused mainly on kids TV, but also did feature children’s radio as well, with programmes from the ‘golden age of the wireless’ such as Listen with Motherand Dick Barton Special Agent.
In more recent decades, the BBC at least, has seemed to have a ‘love hate’ relationship with radio for children. A recent announcement saw the scrapping of the childrens strand on Radio 4 Extra, with controller Gwyneth Williams explaining
We know the average age of The 4 O’Clock Show listener is 60, and that there are very few children listening to Radio 4 Extra in the first place …This means that a dedicated hour for older children and families in the afternoons is not reaching its target audience.
Things were not much more rosy back in the mid 90’s, with the BBC in the post ‘Five Live’ world receiving criticism for lack of radio for kids.
In this item from my ‘Sound Archive’ its a item from Radio 4’s ‘Mediumwave’ programme from around 1996 or 1997, on the topic of Children’s radio. It features Paul Donovan ‘Sunday Times reporter’, Justin Philips ‘Chief Assistant to the Managing Director BBC Network Radio’ and Susan Stranks ‘children’s radio campaigner.’
One of the most fascinating quotes in this item, when you compare to today, comes from Philips
One of the greatest things children realise now is that they don’t want schedules dictated to them by the BBC. They want to dip in when they want to … they want to put on cassettes or put on a CD-ROM … they want to be in control of what they are doing.
Stranks may not have won her kids radio licence in London, I’ve not checked but would guess this would have been the licence which was ultimately ended up as either XFM or Heart 106.2, but did have success in the end being a backer of the digital radio Fun Kids station.
Photo Credits: “Fascination” by h.koppdelaney
“The Lowry By Night” by Phil Edmonds