|BBC Radio 3|
|City of license||London|
|Frequency||FM: 90 MHz -
Sky Digital: 0103
Virgin Media: 903
TalkTalk TV: 603
UPC Ireland: 909
Live Stream Real/WM
|First air date||30 September 1967|
|Format||Classical, jazz, world music, drama, culture, arts|
|Audience share||1.4% (September 2009, )|
|Website||BBC Radio 3|
BBC Radio 3 is a national radio station operated by the BBC within the United Kingdom. Its output centres on classical music and opera music, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station is the world’s most significant commissioner of new music, and its New Generation Artists scheme promotes young musicians of all nationalities. All BBC Proms concerts are broadcast live on Radio 3, and all concerts performed by the BBC orchestras and BBC Singers are also broadcast, either live or recorded. There are regular productions of both classic plays and newly commissioned drama.
Radio 3 is the successor station to the Third Programme which was originally launched on 29 September 1946. The name changed on 30 September 1967 when the BBC launched its first pop music station, Radio 1. The three other national radio channels were then renamed Radio 2, (formerly the Light Programme), Radio 3 and Radio 4, (formerly the Home Service). Radio 3 took over the service which had been known under the umbrella title of the Third Network and which included on the same frequency the Third Programme itself, the Music Programme and various sports and adult education programmes. All the component programmes, including the Third Programme, kept their separate identities within Radio 3 until 4 April 1970, when there was further reorganisation following publication of the BBC document Broadcasting in the Seventies.
In July 1969, the BBC published the document Broadcasting in the Seventies, later described by a senior BBC executive, Jenny Abramsky, Head of Radio and Music, as "the most controversial document ever produced by radio". Prompted partly by the problem of rising costs, one of its main thrusts was the move towards "generic" stations, each catering for a defined audience. One early option under consideration was the reduction of the four radio networks to three, and "Day-time serious music would be the casualty". Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 4 would broadcast during the day time, while in the evening Radios 1 and 2 would merge and Radio 3 would broadcast on the vacated frequency. Rumours were circulating that Radio 3 would be abolished altogether, with The Guardian stating that there was a strong "statistical case" against the station. However, the Director-General, Charles Curran, publicly denied this as "quite contradictory to the aim of the BBC, which is to provide a comprehensive radio service". Curran had earlier dismissed any suggestion that Radio 3's small audience was a consideration: "What is decisive is whether there is a worthwhile audience, and I mean by worthwhile an audience which will get an enormous satisfaction out of it."
Radio 3 survived, the separate titles of Music Programme and Third Programme being dropped; factual programmes, such as documentaries and current affairs, were to be passed to Radio 4. The document stated that Radio 3 was to have "a larger output of standard classical music" but with "some element in the evening of cultural speech programmes - poetry, plays".
There remained a question mark over the future of the Third’s speech programmes that were neither drama, poetry nor current affairs: the poet Peter Porter asked what would happen to "history, literature, travel, reminiscence etc" which had previously featured on the Third. The composer Peter Maxwell Davies and the music critic Edward Greenfield, writing in a feature article in Radio Times, feared that people would lose the mix of cultural experiences which expanded intellectual horizons. However, Radio 3 controller Howard Newby replied that only the coverage of political and economic affairs would be passed to Radio 4: Radio 3 would keep drama, poetry, talks by scientists, philosophers and historians.
Not only did Broadcasting in the Seventies propose a realignment of the existing radio stations, it also envisaged serious cutbacks in the BBC orchestras. In September 1969, a distinguished campaign group, including Sir Adrian Boult, Jonathan Miller, Henry Moore and George Melly, was formed to protest against the changes. The Campaign for Better Broadcasting (its initials were, felicitously, BBC backwards) objected to "the dismantling of the Third Programme by cutting down its spoken word content from fourteen hours a week to six" and "segregating programmes into classes". Mention of the campaign even reached debate in the House of Commons.
Although the Music Programme – a constituent part of the old Network Three – had been absorbed into Radio 3 from 1970 onwards, the Music Division continued, a section run by specialist music staff with production responsibility for the music programmes (controllers of the Third Programme and, subsequently, Radio 3, tended to be arts oriented). The head of the Music Division was then William Glock who had held the post since the Fifties and had also taken over the running of The Proms in the early Sixties. Hans Keller and Robert Simpson were on his staff. Glock was succeeded in 1972 as Controller of Music by the patrician Robert Ponsonby who himself was succeeded in 1985 by John Drummond. The Music Division was eventually run down and the separation of the roles became non-existent in 1987 when Drummond also took over the controllership of Radio 3, uniting all three responsibilities: the running of the station, the music programming and The Proms.
Radio 3's first three controllers tended to be speech/arts oriented and had little to do with the running of the Proms, whereas the succeeding three all directed the Proms at some point along with their duties as Controller of Radio 3.
Howard Newby was the last controller of the Third Programme and the first of Radio 3, overseeing the transition which resulted from the implementation of Broadcasting in the Seventies. An author, he published four novels during his stint at the Third/Radio 3, winning the first Booker Prize for fiction in 1969. The innovations which were to see an increase in the amount of classical music on Radio 3 were due to be completed during the course of 1971. Newby moved upwards in that same year to become Director of Programmes, Radio, without having made any striking changes to the schedules.
Stephen Hearst was head of arts programmes for BBC television. According to his own account, asked by the interview board how important listening figures were he replied that the station was financed by public money and needed to consider the size of its audience; there was a minimum viable figure but this could be increased with "a lively style of broadcasting". Another leading candidate for the post, Martin Esslin, head of Radio Drama, replied to the same question that the great cultural importance of Radio 3 made listening figures irrelevant. Hearst got the job. Radio staff tended to view television people as popularisers, and this turned out to be, in some measure, justified in Hearst’s case. Among early innovations were a prototype evening drivetime programme, Homeward Bound, which featured sequences of light classical music (and was dismissed by the critic Bayan Northcott as "muzak of the speeding executive" ); and a Sunday phone-in request programme, Your Concert Choice ("a flabby phone-in chat," declared the Bristol Evening Post. "What is the BBC up to?"); the phone-in element was abandoned seven months later.
Hearst also launched the arts discussion programme Critics’ Forum which lasted sixteen years, and the series of single-theme evenings and days: French Sunday, Polish Evening, American Sunday etc. A Saturday night programme of miscellaneous music, Sounds Interesting, featured, for example, "experimental fusions of popular styles", Terje Rypdal, songs from Gino Vanelli and "new work from Art Garfunkel and Prism". In 1978 Hearst was promoted to Controller, Future Policy Group.
Ian McIntyre was moved sideways from Controller of Radio 4 to Radio 3 "to create smoother waters at Radio 4", as Newby put it, but relations with most departments, especially the Music Division, became uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Aubrey Singer, later described by the music critic David Cairns as "a dedicated populariser", had taken over as Managing Director, Radio. The possibility that a commercial classical music station with a "streamed format", like the drivetime Homeward Bound, might poach Radio 3’s listeners was raised in 1979 and Singer felt Radio 3 should get in first, rather than being forced to react later. The result was that in 1980 Homeward Bound was replaced by an extended programme called Mainly for Pleasure, a "sensitively compiled anthology of good music of all types and styles", while Saturday afternoons had a programme of shorter presenter-selected repeats from earlier in the week. As with Homeward Bound, there were no advance details of what would be played. Keller complained that every programme, instead of provoking thought, was merely "thought-killing background".
Financial cuts hit Radio 3 hard in 1980 and an internal paper recommended the disbandment of several of the BBC orchestras. Industrial action by musicians delayed the start of the Proms, there were redundancies in the Music Division which was to be disbanded and morale was low. Concern was expressed that Radio 3 had lost prestige without gaining new listeners. In 1983 The Times devoted a column to Radio 3, outlining the diverse unhappinesses of producers, contributors and listeners. Meanwhile, senior management was dissatisfied with listening figures and Director-General Alasdair Milne suggested that presentation style was "too stodgy and old-fashioned". In 1987 a decision was taken to merge the positions of Controller, Music (held by John Drummond who had also been running the Proms), and Controller, Radio 3 (held by McIntyre). Drummond was appointed and McIntyre soon left the BBC.
Stephen Hearst expressed the view that the Controller of Radio 3 should know enough about music to run all aspects of the station, but it was not until John Drummond was appointed in 1987 that this came about.
John Drummond was not a musician by profession but he had experience of administration, having run the Edinburgh Festival between 1977 and 1983. When he took over from Ian McIntyre he effectively had three jobs: Controller (Music), Director of the Proms and running Radio 3. Like Hearst, Drummond felt that the presentation of music programmes was too stiff and spoke of its "dogged dullness". He set about encouraging announcers be more natural and enthusiastic. Much of the drama output, which was predominantly of new work, he found to be "gloomy and pretentious" and he insisted on more repeats of classic performances by such actors as John Gielgud and Paul Scofield. There were features on anniversaries: William Glock's eightieth birthday, Michael Tippett's eighty-fifth and Isaiah Berlin's eightieth; a Scandinavian Season; and an ambitious Berlin Weekend to mark the reunification of Germany in 1990. Drummond came home from Berlin and complained that "not one single senior person in the BBC had listened to any part of it". The following year a much praised weekend was broadcast from London and Minneapolis-St Paul, creating broadcasting history by being the first time a whole weekend had been transmitted "live from another continent". New programmes introduced by Drummond included the experimental music show Mixing It (1990) which he described as a late-evening music strand for genres which fell between Radio 1 and Radio 3: "ethnic music, minimalism, and some kinds of experimental or advanced rock". In this it could be seen as a precursor to the current programme Late Junction. As far as the station's position within the BBC was concerned, Drummond said that the higher reaches of the corporation showed no interest whatsoever: "I can't remember ever having a serious conversation with anyone above me in the BBC about Radio 3 ... I would much rather have had the feeling that they thought it mattered what Radio 3 did." In 1992 Drummond relinquished the post of controller, while retaining the role of Director of the Proms in order to run the centenary season.
Nicholas Kenyon came to Radio 3 from being chief music critic of The Observer, having had training in arts administration and run the South Bank’s Mozart Now Festival in 1991. He took up his post in February 1992, with the new commercial radio station Classic FM due to launch later in the year. One of his first acts was to send three senior producers to study classical music stations in the United States. Kenyon’s view, like Singer’s a decade earlier, was that Radio 3 had to make changes before the new station began broadcasting, rather than react later. Saatchi & Saatchi were appointed as the station’s advertising agents. An early controversy was the axing of three popular mainstay announcers, Malcolm Ruthven, Peter Barker and Tony Scotland, as a start to creating a new style since Kenyon, like Drummond, thought the Radio 3 style was off-putting to potential new listeners. On Air and In Tune, two new drivetime-formula programmes – an innovation for Radio 3 – were to fill the breakfast and teatime slots. Brian Kay, late of the King’s Singers and latterly a popular presenter on Radio 2 and Radio 4, was engaged to front a three-hour programme of popular classics on Sunday mornings. Drama was to be cut by a quarter, news which drew a letter of protest to The Times, with Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Fay Weldon among the signatories. Few of these innovations escaped criticism from either the press or listeners. Kenyon was nevertheless eager to reassure that all this was not "some ghastly descent into populism": the aim was to create "access points" for new listeners. Kenyon has admitted that in 1995 pressure was being exerted by senior management for Radio 3 to increase its ratings. There was "widespread disbelief" when he announced in the summer that a new morning programme would take the 09:00 spot from the revered Composer of the Week and would be presented by a signing from Classic FM – the disc jockey Paul Gambaccini who had started his career with the BBC on the pop station Radio 1. The torrent of criticism, especially once the programme went on air a few weeks later, was so unrelenting that Gambaccini announced the following spring that he would not be renewing his contract with Radio 3.
Aside from the controversies, Kenyon’s controllership was marked by several highly distinguished programming successes.
Fairest Isle was an ambitious project which marked 1995 – the 300th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell – with a year-long celebration of British music; Sounding the Century (1997–1999) presented a retrospective of 20th-century music. Both won awards.
He also introduced a number of well received specialist programmes: the children’s programme The Music Machine, Spirit of the Age (early music), Impressions (jazz), Voices (vocal music), and the arts programme Night Waves, among them. In 1996, Radio 3 became a 24-hour station. From midnight until 06:00 the programme Through the Night filled in with radio recordings supplied by participating broadcasters of the European Broadcasting Union. It still runs, put together by a small BBC team, and is taken by several other European broadcasters under the title Euroclassic Notturno. In order that live overruns did not create cumulative disruption to the daily schedule, one “fixed point” of 22:00 was created which would result, when necessary, in the curtailment or cancellation of items to allow Through the Night to begin promptly at midnight. Kenyon had in fact earlier declared that he wanted "lots of fixed points" and had already begun to introduce “stripping” – programmes that appeared regularly at the same time each day through the week. Humphrey Carpenter commented: "Kenyon made no reference to the fact that the Third Programme had been founded under the motto ‘no fixed points’."
Roger Wright took over as controller in November 1998. One of the innovations of his first year was the introduction of the relaxed late-night music programme Late Junction with its varied mix of genres. Wright said he was addressing "this feeling people had that they didn't want to put Radio 3 on unless they were going to listen carefully". Jazz programmes and world music were given a higher profile, a new programme of light music was presented by Brian Kay, and Andy Kershaw’s music programme, which had been dropped by Radio 1, was reintroduced on Radio 3. A BBC spokesman described the station as having "changed beyond all recognition in the last couple of years". From now on the watchword was to be quality, freeing music from its "outmoded boxes", said Wright, "not a dumbing down but a smarting up". With the BBC Charter due for review, Radio 3’s programming figured largely in the documentation used in support of a ten-year renewal and the BBC’s Annual Report 2003/04 was able to report that Radio 3 "achieved a record [audience] reach in the first quarter of 2004".
The Secretary of State’s foreword to the government’s Green Paper in 2005 made special mention of "the sort of commitment to new talent that has made Radio 3 the largest commissioner of new music in the world" as a model for what the BBC should be about.
However, as Roger Wright reaches the tenth anniversary of his controllership, the situation has changed somewhat. The same BBC Annual Report which mentioned the record audience also reported some listener unhappiness. Critical reception of the changes had also been mixed, especially of the new style of presentation – described as "gruesome in tone and level". The world music output was criticised as "street-smart fusions" and "global pop". Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) began to record lower listening figures. Substantial schedule changes were made early in 2007, some of them – including the dropping of live evening concerts – very controversial. After Kenyon’s "lots of fixed points" came Wright’s "all fixed points" with schedules now stripped across the week, contained in fixed length slots and introduced by regular presenters. In spite of these changes, the figures began to plummet. The new style Breakfast programme failed to achieve the listening figures of its predecessor.
Reversals of recent policy resulted in the dropping of Making Tracks (children’s programme), Stage and Screen (music theatre and film music) and Brian Kay’s Light Programme. Andy Kershaw’s show has transformed into the multi-presenter World on 3 and Late Junction has lost one of its four weekly editions. Mixing It (the long-running experimental music show) has also been dropped. The evening alternative music programmes have all been put back by one hour, to begin at 11.15pm, closer to the so-called "graveyard slot". However, protesters against the removal of the Wednesday afternoon live broadcast of Choral Evensong to Sundays have been rewarded by its return to Wednesdays and live evening concerts have been reintroduced with 30 concerts promised for 2008–09.
Important projects undertaken have been The Beethoven Experience in June 2005, when the schedules were cleared for six days to broadcast the entire works of Beethoven round the clock. The same total immersion approach was used for A Bach Christmas in December 2005 for the entire works of JS Bach for ten days in the run-up to Christmas. In February 2007, one week was similarly given over to the works of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.
In October 2007, Wright succeeded Nicholas Kenyon as Director of the BBC Proms while remaining in post as Controller of Radio 3.
Over more than forty years the schedules have been regularly updated. However, two long-running BBC programmes currently broadcast on Radio 3 – Choral Evensong and Composer of the Week – predate even the arrival of the Third Programme in 1946.
The Anglican service of sung Evening Prayer is broadcast weekly on Radio 3 live from cathedrals, university college chapels and churches throughout the UK. On occasion, it carries Choral Vespers from Catholic cathedrals, such as Westminster Cathedral, or a recorded service from choral foundations abroad. Choral Evensong is the BBC’s longest-running outside broadcast programme, the first edition having been relayed from Westminster Abbey on 7 October 1926. Its 80th anniversary was celebrated, also live from Westminster Abbey, with a service on 11 October 2006.
The programme has a strong following, revealed by various unpopular attempts in the past to change the broadcast arrangements. When the programme was moved from Radio 4 to Radio 3 in 1970 it became a monthly broadcast but vigorous protests resulted in a return of the weekly transmission on Wednesday afternoons..
More recently, in 2007 the live broadcast was switched to Sundays which again resulted in protests. The live transmission was returned to Wednesdays in September 2008 with a recorded repeat on Sunday afternoons. Choral Evensong forms part of Radio 3's remit on religious programming though the musical performance and repertoire holds interest for a wider audience.
Composer of the Week is claimed as the longest-running classical music programme in Britain, having been launched in August 1943.. It was first broadcast on the Third Programme (later Radio 3), under its original title of This Week’s Composer, in 1964 when the station’s daytime broadcasting began. Each week, in five daily programmes, the work of a particular composer is studied in detail and illustrated with musical excerpts. Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Handel have all featured once most years, a different aspect of their work being chosen for study each time. However, the programme also covers more 'difficult' or less-widely known composers, with weeks devoted to Rubbra, Medtner, Havergal Brian and the Minimalists among others. The regular presenter is currently Donald Macleod.
CD Review is a Saturday morning programme dealing with new classical music releases, topical issues and interviews. The programme title is an update of Record Review which was broadcast on Network Three occasionally from 1949, then weekly from 1957. It includes the feature Building a Library which surveys and recommends available recordings of specific works. In 2006 Building a Library was attacked as 'elitist' for including such composers as Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Elliott Carter and lesser-known works of great composers, at the expense of well-known mainstream works. However, the charge was rebutted by the programme's producer, Mark Lowther, who said that Radio 3 audiences wanted programmes that challenged and inspired. The regular presenter of CD Review is Andrew McGregor.
Jazz Record Requests was the first weekly jazz programme on the Third Programme. First presented by the jazz musician Humphrey Lyttelton, the 30-minute programme was launched in December 1964 and is still running more than forty years later. Now extended to an hour long, it still has its place on Saturday afternoons. Presenters on Radio 3 have included Steve Race, Peter Clayton and Charles Fox. The current presenter is Geoffrey Smith.
Pied Piper was an iconic children’s programme, presented by the 29-year-old early music specialist, David Munrow, it had the sub-title Tales and Music for Younger Listeners and ran from August 1971 until 1976. Lively and varied, it was aimed at the 6–12 age group, though much older children and adults also listened. The programme ran for five series and a total of 655 episodes until it was brought to an end by Munrow’s untimely death in May 1976.
Controller Nicholas Kenyon summed up the perennial problem of Radio 3 as "the tension between highbrow culture and popular appeal ….the cost of what we do and the number of people who make use of it”: elitism versus populism (or ‘dumbing down’) and the question of cost per listener. Tensions have been manifest within the BBC itself: in 1969, two hundred members of the BBC staff protested to the director general at changes which would ‘emasculate’ Radio 3, while managing director of radio Ian Trethowan described the station in a memorandum as "a private playground for elitists to indulge in cerebral masturbation". Later, former Radio 3 controller John Drummond complained that the senior ranks of the BBC took no interest in what he was doing. There have also been tensions between corporate policy affecting the Third/Radio 3 and what the artistic world and sections of the audience wanted:
In the current climate of intense competition in the radio industry, the RAJAR listening figures are scrutinised every quarter by both broadcasters and the press. When listening figures showed an abrupt downturn from 2004, Friends of Radio 3 claimed that recent changes had caused the station to lose listeners. Dramatic schedule changes were introduced in February 2007. However, some of these were widely unpopular, and the year 2007/08 saw record low listening figures Adjustments in September 2008, e.g. reintroducing some live concerts, reversed some of the policies and listening figures improved.
To improve the quality of outside broadcasts over telephone lines the BBC designed a NICAM style digitisation technique called pulse code modulation running at a sample rate of 14,000 per second per channel. It later designed digital recording machines (transportable) sampling at the same rate.
In June 2005 in conjunction with Radio 3’s Beethoven Experience (a week exclusively devoted to the works of Beethoven played round-the-clock), the BBC trialled its first music downloads over the internet. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda played all nine Beethoven symphonies and the recordings were offered as free mp3 downloads. The stated aim was "to gauge audiences' appetite for music downloads and their preferred content, and will inform the development of the BBC strategy for audio downloads and on demand content". The experiment was wildly successful, attracting 1.4 million downloads. There was anger among the major classical record labels who considered it unfair competition and "devaluing the perceived value of music". As a result, no further free downloads have been offered and the BBC Trust has ruled out any classical music podcasts with extracts longer than one minute. In October 2007, Radio 3 collaborated with English National Opera in presenting a live video stream of a performance of Carmen, "the first time a UK opera house has offered a complete production online". In September 2008, Radio 3 launched a filmed series of concerts. These will be available to watch live and thereafter each concert will be available online for 7 days "in high quality vision".
|BBC Radio 3|
|City of license||London|
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom - National|
|Frequency||FM: 90 MHz - 93 MHz|
Tiscali TV: 603
Virgin Media: 903
UPC Ireland: 909
Live Stream Real/WM
|First air date||30 September 1967|
|Audience share||1.2% (June 2008)|
|Website||BBC Radio 3|
BBC Radio 3 is a national radio station operated by the BBC within the United Kingdom. It devotes most of its schedule to classical music. Every year it broadcasts the BBC Proms concerts during the summer.