Back to the continuities now, where creeping change is about to become a sprint. When we moved in, five years ago, they were all identical with six selectable channels and three Leevers Rich tape machines. A Nagra has been added for the announcer, to play trails and the cubicle tape machines are now Studer C37s because Third con and of course, the spare have to handle stereo.
Stereo radio began in the UK with Saturday morning experiments in 1958 and I remember lugging my parents' large valve radio and placing it six feet from the family television to listen to them. One channel was carried via Third Programme transmitters and the other by TV sound, neither network then having normal programmes on a Saturday morning. As we lived on Tyneside and one signal arrived via VHF and the other from the local medium wave repeater, lets just say that the fact that the speakers were not a matched pair did not affect the value of the experiment!
The Third Network, as it is called now begins at 0700 and there are two or three stereo programmes a day - gram records and live and recorded concerts and recitals. All of which means that the control room switching system has had to be partially modified too to cope with stereo
Over in Light, the announcers are also working harder. When we moved in 5 years ago, the breakfast time programming was "Morning Music", 4 reels of continuous light music from staff orchestras. The announcer did half hourly news summaries and the music was delicately dipped for a time check every 10 minutes. The con studio could be switched to rehearsal condition and so it was not unusual for the TO to record one of these time checks and play it in while the announcer went to breakfast. With competition from pirate stations in the North sea, the Light Programme has extended its hours (0530-0200) and "Breakfast Special" has become a full blown programme.
All these extended hours and a whole new "popular" music network are to be paid for by getting rid of some of those orchestras and by combining the roles of SMs and TOs. Virtually everyone who opens a fader will be a Programme Operations Assistant (POA).
A few months later...
The new 4th network is to be called Radio 1. Well I suppose you could hardly call a new pop station Radio 4. So Home gets that title, Light becomes Radio 2 and 3rd stays with the number 3.
POA - Programme Operations Assistant. A job title used for a few years instead of Studio Manager.
It's 29th September and I'm on night shift! Home has been banished to the spare con (4) and the Light Programme is coming for the last time from Con 2 where the studio has been modified to provide cart machines, an enormous cart rack and ,of course, extra faders. Next to the TO, under the studio window, sits a range of outboard compressor/limiters to operate in the studio mic chain, the studio repro chain and the TO's tape output. Con 1, visible through the glass has been similarly modified but is now empty and awaiting the arrival of Radio 1. Con 2 is far from empty and I realise it contains 4 TV cameras, two in the cubicle and two in the studio. Late Night Line Up on BBC2 is coming from here via a colour scanner in the car park - sorry that should probably be THE colour scanner as colour only began with Wimbledon in June.
Home turns into Radio 4, Light into Radio 2 and at 0700, Radio 1 breaks away with Tony Blackburn in Con 1, while Breakfast Special continues on Radio 2, from Con 2. Radio 1 sounds just like the pirates but at 0830, Radios 1 and 2 combine again for "Family Choice" (from a studio) and it all sounds a bit like the Light Programme again. Jimmy Young follows at 1000, again from a studio and at 1100, Radio 2 opts out for Morning Story and this mix and match continues all day.
Meanwhile, to make way for back to back Radio 1 shows in the afternoon, Radio 2 has vacated Con 2 and moved to mixer 1A (right). So when it just needs an old fashioned "continuity", Radio 2 con is, in fact, a studio!
It will all sort itself out eventually, Radio 1 will become a separate network, mixer 1A will turn into a pair of cramped continuities for Radio 2 and I'll get to be a POA. Spare a thought, though for the designers of the extension who, like their predecessors planning the move to BH from Savoy Hill, discovered that by the time it was finished, it was out of date. Spare a thought, too, for the TOM, fighting his way across the control room against a stream of record pluggers on their way to Radio 1. His heartfelt cry - "Why didn't they just put the bloody ship in the car park!"