Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer champions commercial radio on 50th anniversary

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer champions commercial radio on its 50th anniversary in a special article for RadioToday.

“When LBC’s original breakfast presenter, David Jessel, took to the air at 5am on Monday 8 October 1973 at a studio on Gough Square off Fleet Street in London, he could never have foreseen the success that commercial radio would go on to have in the UK.

LBC launched in the same week as Capital Radio and it has gone on to launch the careers of countless household names, from Jon Snow and Rosie Boycott to Peter Allen and Nick Ferrari, and it’s a station that now broadcasts to a combined weekly audience of 3.9 million.

But it was not a given that it would go on to be this successful. In 2009, at the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit, the death of commercial radio was predicted for next year. The talent, the innovation and the imagination of the people working in commercial radio defied those predictions and proved doubters emphatically wrong.

Today – 50 years after that first broadcast – our commercial radio stations are a true British success story. They have audiences numbering in the millions. They draw in listeners not just in the UK but all over the world. And stations like Capital, Greatest Hits Radio, Kiss – as well as the many brilliant local commercial stations across the UK – seize on every opportunity presented to build loyal followings and meet their listeners where they are.

Few things in our national life have remained as enduringly popular as radio. We remain attached to radio and its rhythms, to the hum and the sound of it. And we get attached to the people who present it, because radio is personal. It is part of our way of life, which is why, at the last count, 9 out of 10 of us still tune in every week. Commercial radio is a major part of that success, accounting for 38.1 million listeners every year.

As Culture Secretary, I want our commercial radio broadcasters to keep thriving for another half century. The internet age is one that rewards innovation and spurs competition, and we have seen that commercial radio is more than up to the task of staying at the forefront of that competition.

As you read this, presenters on commercial radio are bringing joy to millions of listeners. British storytelling. Quality journalism. Engaging presenters. Commercial radio connects people together and enriches people’s lives. This recipe for success means the future looks as bright as ever for commercial radio in this country