Mixer 1A and Radio Sport

Mixer 1A and Radio Sport by Mike Chessher

Mixer 1A
1A was the second of three Type B mixers in BH to be completed. Because of the arrival of Radio 1 and the need for extra continuities (see BH in 1967), it was also the shortest lived, disappearing after only five or six years.

This view shows the SM's desk with 5 local and 10 outside source channels, described more fully in the section on 3B.

TO's panel

The TO's (Technical Operator) position. The sheet next to the PABX phone lists the 200 sources available, divided into 4 columns of 50 for A, B, C and D codes. Studios were on B codes because of the large number of basement studios. e.g. Studio B15 was on code B15.

Tape machines

At the time of this photo 1A had an unusual mix of TR90 and Leevers Rich tape machines. Most BH studios at the time were equipped with Philips machines but 1A's normal complement was 4 TR90s. 1A was also unusual in having no form of Tape Control Panel. TCPs provided controls which selected the source fed
to each tape machine - for example, the output of the desk, outside sources or the outputs of the other recorders (for dubbing purposes). The routing of the outputs of machines was also controlled by the TCP. In 1A, however, machine inputs and outputs were plugged up on the jackfield.

The next photo shows the bays containing amplifiers and relay panels. The power supplies are out of shot at the bottom.

The studio
A view of the studio. Sports Report came from here presented (from the chair in the foreground) by Eamonn Andrews and produced by Angus Mackay. When Eamonn did live interviews, the questions were asked by Angus using studio talkback into Eamonn's ear and "revoiced" by Eamonn only a couple of words behind. The monitors were used to read late flashes from
the sportsroom two floors above. A video camera in a box focussed on a sheet of paper on which the messages were usually hand written in thick black pencil. The cameras were in the black boxes, looking upwards at the paper placed on a glass plate on the top of the box. Internal lights illuminated the paper and the monitors above showed what the camera saw.

There was also a lip mic in the sportsroom so that football results could be read off the teleprinters as they came in. Angus was always keen to use the latest technology including phone calls to get things on the air fast, but woe betide the reporter who did 1 min 7 secs when he'd been asked for a minute!
Radio Sport in the Sixties & Seventies

Studio detail
Throughout its life as a studio, 1A was used for sport which, to a much greater extent than now, was concentrated on Saturday afternoon. Until mid 1964, Light was the main network for sport, carrying commentary on the second half of a football league match. This was known as OB "X" on the booking sheet and continuity schedule and was a closely guarded secret until after the 1500 kick off to avoid affecting attendances. There was also Sports Parade at lunch time and Sports Report at five o'clock. These two programmes were part of news division's output and produced by Angus Mackay, whilst the other sports output was produced by OBs. The Home Service also carried sport, including rugby and some cricket and racing. As late as 1969, the Saturday coverage of Wimbledon was on Radio 4. Except on busy summer Saturdays, this was all handled as separately billed programmes into continuity with Sports Parade and Sports Report coming from 1A. (There was also a regional Sports Session programme at 1830 on Home.)

In 1964, competition from the pirates forced the Light Programme to "Swing into Summer" with continuous Saturday afternoon pop music and sport moved to the "Third Network". "Sports Service" ran from 1230 to 1800 and was linked by a staff announcer with 1A effectively the continuity. When the football season began, Parade and Report came from B9 which became a contributing studio. After 1A was turned into two Radio 2 suites in 1968, the main mixing studio became 3B and later 3E.

In April 1970 as part of a major reshuffle, sport moved back to Radio 2 (Light) but only from 1430 to 1745 with Sports Parade on Radio 4, but before long an integrated sport and OB department was established. Sports Parade disappeared and "Sport on 2" ran from B9 for many years from 1330 to 1800, incorporating Sports Report and even its famous sig tune "Out of the Blue" at five o'clock.

B9 Cubicle
This picture of B9 (the third and final Type B mixer) dates from April 1974. By now it had gained some fairly standard transistorised add-ons. A pair of RSAs (EQ) are to the left of the main panel, next to the control room telephone. Under the TV monitors are (from the left) a local intercom, a pair of telephone balance units and a compressor/limiter which normally sat across the desk output to "catch the peaks".

As well as the camera feed from the sports room, the monitors were used to keep an eye on TV sport OB feeds passing through the building. Given the limited talkback facilities, Sport on 2 operated with a production assistant talking to the OBs via a headset and the individual prefade/ talkback keys to the right of the picture. The producer "hovered" to the left of the panel SM, often leaning on the main monitoring loudspeaker just visible on the left and talking to the presenter via the studio talkback key immediately to the left of the bottom row of faders. With only 10 outside source channels, much careful juggling of sources was necessary, especially on the busy Saturdays when the cricket and football seasons overlapped.

B9 was later re-equipped with a GP desk. With the start of Radio 5, sport moved to a new 1A not far from the site of the original.