16th March 1982
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey got its first radio station in 1982. BBC Radio Guernsey, which opened on 16th March, had just four staff. It broadcast for one hour a day from studios at Commerce House, and covered Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm.
Being an exclusively AM (medium wave) station meant it could only broadcast in mono, but that changed three years later when it switched to full stereo on FM. This was unusual, as the BBC’s earliest local radio stations had each launched exclusively on FM, and only later adopted AM. The policy was a way to promote FM, which then was still quite new, with the later adoption of AM reflecting the fact that as the more popular band it might increase the audience.
The station was opened by the Bailiff, John Loveridge, and the first voice heard on air was producer Peter Rouse. Appropriately enough, the first record played was Cliff Richard’s Wired for Sound.
BBC Radio Jersey had gone on air the day before Guernsey – Monday 15 March. Even this, though, was far from the first to go live. BBC Radio Leicester was the trail-blazer, launching on 8 November 1967.
BBC Radio Guernsey today
The station is now based on Bulwer Avenue, in a building it shares with ITV. It still broadcasts on both AM and FM (1116AM and 93.2FM), as well as on digital radio and the Internet. The amount of original local programming has increased from one hour a day to an average of ten and a half. At other times, it carries regional programmes broadcast in the mainland’s south west and, overnight, BBC Radio 5 Live. This is a common pattern across the BBC’s network of local stations, all of which come together to a greater or lesser degree outside of peak hours.
In 1992 it was joined by local commercial station Island FM. Quay FM, on Alderney, launched full time in 2015.