British radio started back as long ago as 1920 by Marconi in Essex where he set up an experimental system. Marconi started long before this with experimenting in wireless communication by bringing together ideas from other scientists of the time such as Tesla and Faraday. Marconi was able to send a signal across the Atlantic Ocean as early as 1901. He constructed extensive aerial systems to transmit the signal. It was some time before voice could be transmitted though; in 1901 the signal was a series of dots that were detected in Newfoundland using a 600 foot long antenna.
Marconi’s work led to the wireless telegraph and Morse code. It was an invention by Flemming and De Forest in 1906 that helped Marconi. These scientists invented a thermionic valve which allowed a proper carrier wave to be transmitted that could be modulated so that music and voice could be transmitted and not just Morse code. In 1920 Marconi built his station at Essex and named it 2MT. The transmissions began slowly for only 30 minutes each week until eventually by 1922 these were allowed each day for 30 minutes. Initially music like Opera and the National Anthem was played; later the news was also broadcast.
The British Broadcasting Company, BBC was eventually formed in October 1922. By December 1922 the first religious programme was broadcast by the BBC. The wavelength of the broadcast did change many times over the years. Back in those days buying a radio was challenging for many people as they were very expensive so many people built their own radio from what was called a crystal set. Most of the original transmitters of the time were constructed by Marconi. The country started in 1924, to use long waves instead of only medium waves so as to convey the signal further around the UK and even overseas. The BBC was nationalized in 1926 but still retained its operation independently of too much government interference.
In 1927 a 5GB station was initiated in Daventry at the same time as a regional plan came into play in which regional medium waves stations were to be developed around the country at 7 sites including Scotland, Wales and Ireland. More and more stations and transmitters were built as radio became increasingly popular, with both the national and regional programmes being transmitted around the country.
Commercial radio developed in 1973 in the UK. These received licenses from the Independent Broadcasting Authority. More and more of these radio stations developed until by 1988 there were 69. This was possible because the government allowed it and in 1990 the Broadcasting Act stated that stations could not provide the same programming if they covered the same region. The aim was to cater for the variety of different tastes that people have.
Over time the BBC has expanded and started offering a digital radio in 1995.Commercial radio stations have invested and continue to grow into the realm of providing digital radio. British radio has seen a great deal of growth over the years from the humble beginnings of Marconi.