Radio broadcasts

​​   "Congratulations on your YouTube channel and
     website; it's just wonderful"
    Geraint Bowen

​​   "What an absolute joy to hear these wonderful broadcasts"
    Nigel Allcoat

The Archive contains an extensive collection of radio broadcasts, comprising of services, concerts, recitals, documentaries & drama. 

The earliest radio broadcast in the Archive is dated 18 July 1937,  Vespers and Benediction from the Chapel Choir of St Edmund's College, Ware.

Those that have survived were recorded from the live broadcast onto special 78rpm Electrical Acetate Transcription discs.  

Listen to a selection of radio broadcasts on our YouTube channel by clicking on the playlist to your left.
BBC Choral Evensong

The first broadcast of BBC Choral Evensong came from Westminster Abbey on 7 October 1926. 

The Archive has almost 2000 Choral Evensong broadcasts, the earliest being from Derby Cathedral in 1947.​​

To your right and below are the two playlists of BBC Choral Evensong broadcasts featured on our YouTube Music Channel with more being added each month.

Playlist 1  :  1948 - 1979

Chronological list of BBC Choral Evensong broadcasts since 1926

Playlist 2  :  1980 onwards

To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Choral Evensong in 1996, the BBC produced this television broadcast introduced by Joanna Trollope and sung by the choir of York Minster.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints the anthem was not broadcast.

Radio documentary
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the hundreds of documentaries which have been broadcast over the years.

These have feature individual choirs, choristers, Directors of Music, choir schools, composers and many other topics relating to church music.  
​​A small selection of radio documentaries are featured on our YouTube Music Channel which you can select from the playlist on the top left.

Exclusive to the website and not on YouTube
29 June 1997

Introduced by Brian Wright, who talks with Harry Bramma on his role as Director of the Royal School of Church Music and also about Parish Church choirs; the broadcast features St Barnabas, Dulwich and Chingford Parish Church

Why have so many early radio broadcasts survived?
because of Electrical Acetate Transcription Discs
Commonly called an acetate transcription, this type of 78rpm gramophone record was used to record live on-air radio broadcasts and never for sale to the general public. 

As a transcription disc was directly cut from the on-air broadcast they were usually a one-off copy.

​78rpm transcription discs were used from the late 1920s (the dawn of electric recording) and the last such record in the Archive is dated 1959, although LPs and magnetic tape were being used concurrently from the early1950s.    The Archive's first transcription disc is from 1937 - making this the earliest surviving radio broadcast in the Archive.

In late 1934, a new type of transcription disc was commercially introduced. It consisted of an aluminium core disc coated with black cellulose nitrate lacquer and referred to as an "acetate" disc by radio professionals.  

​​Using a top-quality blank disc the result was a virtually noiseless broadcast-quality recording which could be played several times before the effects of wear started to become apparent.  ​​

These discs were distributed to radio stations, usually abroad, for broadcasting and the BBC had its own Transcription Service record division. 

Numerous other companies, such as Master Sound, Dury, Levy Sound Studios, Excell Sound Services specialised in the recording of transcription discs. 

​Master Sound System were the leaders in the field of this technology and almost all the other companies, including the BBC, used their equipment.

Given the short playing time of a 78rpm record, often twenty or more discs were needed to record a radio broadcast!  Usually on two recording machines so that a smooth change from one disc to the other would happen.

The Archive has a substantial collection of transcription discs, both from the BBC and the various specialist companies.  Their historical importance cannot be over emphasised and is solely due to the transcription disc that so many early radio broadcasts, particularly BBC Choral Evensongs, have survived.


Broadcasting on radio  

Click on a photo to open the slide-show

  1. New College, Oxford.  1942
    New College, Oxford. 1942
  2. Bradford Cathedral, 1975
    Bradford Cathedral, 1975
  3. St Woolo's Cathedral, 2005
    St Woolo's Cathedral, 2005
  4. Westminster Cathedral.  1931
    Westminster Cathedral. 1931
  5. St John's College, Cambridge.  2016
    St John's College, Cambridge. 2016
  6. Hereford Cathedral.  2016
    Hereford Cathedral. 2016
  7. BBC Forces Evensong, 1943
    BBC Forces Evensong, 1943