Reforming Radio: BBC Radio’s music policy 1957-1967


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines attempts by the centralised policy makers of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to overcome a crisis at their radio service in reaction to the launch of commercial television in 1955. It looks in particular at the work – the successes, failures and frustrations – of an assistant director, a bureaucrat, who planned to regenerate music policy, especially in terms of pop and light music, which led to the formation of the numbered station system still in use today: Radios 1 - 4. Using primary sources from the BBC’s written archives, the article will identify the oppositions he faced from external forces (the Sound Broadcasting Society, the Musicians’ Union) and the internal forces (music department operatives, presenters). It will attempt to explain, through the prism of Michel Crozier’s study The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (1964), how the assistant director overcame these hurdles across the ten years of time that it took to pummel policy into practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLa Revue Francaise de Civilisation Britannique
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Aug 2020


  • BBC
  • radio studies
  • music policy
  • popular music
  • pirate radio

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Reforming Radio: BBC Radio’s music policy 1957-1967'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this