Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

What’s in a name

One of the challenges of the LBC/IRN Digitisation Project is to aurally transcribe personal names without supporting documentary evidence to help in checking difficult or unusual spellings. They fall roughly into three areas:

  • prominent personalities in international affairs. Just to take one example, the Rhodesia / Zimbabwe Independence struggle. Key players frequently referred to in the news included Abel Muzorewa, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe – who course remains in the news today;
  • less easy to check are minor personalities – famous for 15 minutes, trades union officials, MP’s, local government officials, celebrities and sports persons;
  • and staff working for LBC/IRN as reporters, presenters and journalists.

The LBC/IRN team has access to good reference tools, Keesings Contemporary Archives, The Oxford Dictionaries of National Biography, The Times Digital Archive, a number of reference databases and the internet. Where electronic sources are not available they have created lists of names from contemporary directories, for example list of MP’s from the early 1970’s. The team have been able to use contacts with LBC/IRN to create authority lists of LBC/IRN staff working from 1973-1990.

Next time you listen to the news – see if you can summarise and transcribe names accurately.


Hard times and the launch of LBC/IRN

LBC/IRN launched at possibly the worst moment (1973) to start a new commercial venture, depending as it did on advertising revenue at a time when the British economy was in difficulties. This list of economic troubles included:

“The Middle East war, which led to a quadrupling of oil prices, had just begun, and the Prime Minister Edward Heath launched his controversial Phase Three prices and incomes policy. Shortly afterward, a miners strike led to widespread power blackouts, and to the country’s being put on a three day week.” (Rudin 2004, p876)

The economic pressure did not let up during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with a balance of payments crisis (1976), strikes during the Winter of Discontent (1978-79) and mass unemployment. LBC/IRN as a company faced a constant financial struggle with difficult industrial relations. Not unsurprisingly LBC/IRN had an interest in reporting on economic conditions [ audio clip ], industrial conflicts [ audio clip ] and the growing unemployment statistics [ audio clip ]. The reporter in the last clip, John Perkins, then LBC’s industrial correspondent, went on to become Managing Editor of LBC/IRN in 1982, Editor in 1986 and Managing Director of IRN in 1989. A period that coincided with an a general economic improvement and financial success for IRN. John Perkins has also voiced his support for the LBC/IRN Digitisation Project.


Rudin, R., 2004. London Broadcasting Company. First British Commercial Radio Station. IN: Sterling, C.H. ed. Museum of Broadcasting Communications Encyclopedia of Radio. Vol. 2., 876-877.