The audio pack is free to download
BBC Radio began regular broadcasting 100 years ago. To mark this anniversary, the University of Bedfordshire hosted a one-day conference “Navigating the Waves of Change,” held at its Luton Campus, north of London.
Welcoming delegates from as far away as Toronto, Canada, the conference examined a wide range of topics, exploring the evolution of the corporation, its history and impacts, both national and international.
The event opened with a keynote presentation by Gurvinder Aujla-Sidhu, associate professor, University of Derby, focusing on the emergence of the BBC’s Asian network, its formation from various strands of local radio and its development into a national digital network.
Morning sessions explored the international impact of the BBC in the development of Public Service Broadcasting; the impacts of other broadcasters on the corporation; the evolution of inclusivity and diversity; and creative approaches to the public service mission of educating, informing and entertaining.
After a networking lunch and tours of the university radio station, RadioLaB [Radio Luton and Bedfordshire] historian of the BBC, Professor David Hendy, gave the second keynote of the day, drawing on his recent publication — “The BBC, A People’s History.” Perhaps rather depressingly, Professor Hendy was not optimistic about the future of the BBC, suggesting that if it does not survive, any future replacement would be unlikely to provide the range and diversity of output currently on offer.
Afternoon sessions brought things more up to date, exploring podcasting and the future of public service audio, alongside another panel session focusing on challenging orthodoxies in radio drama. Closing sessions examined the long-running BBC soap-opera “The Archers,” as well as a perhaps more serious session concerning the delivery of cultural diversity and access to the airwaves.
The range of papers and discussions at this event was considerable, highlighting the historical impact of the BBC, its evolution and its possible futures. The organizers expect to publish a variety of papers from the conference next year.
Dr. Lawrie Hallett is the Senior Lecturer in Radio and Audio at the University of Bedfordshire and writes about radio for RedTech from his home in Norwich, England.