London radio station LBC celebrates its 30th birthday later this year. It has, by all accounts, been a turbulent history and radio historians amongst you will recall that the ‘LBC’ of today doesn’t really have any connection with the original station. In quirk of regulatory fate, the station lost its broadcasting licence in the early 90s to be replaced with a new service run by, if memory serves, Reuters. This service headed swiftly towards disaster and eventually changed its format and name back to LBC to avoid total oblivion. It was rare for the regulators to not renew a radio station’s licence and it is ironic they did this to one of the better ones.

Nowadays, in our wonderful deregulated radio ‘market’, commercial stations are free to do pretty much whatever they want in the mistaken belief that removing regulation unleashes a tidal wave of otherwise pent-up creativity. What it really leads to of course is a culture where little or nothing of any ambition and passion is attempted and certainly nothing that costs money. Yet good radio needn’t be expensive to do – Its not digging coal out of the ground or landing a man on Mars. It’s sad that the whole thing is so corporatised and much of the fun seems to have gone out of it. It’s all taken way too seriously.

But radio is still an amazing medium. In my option, if ballet is the highest form of dance, radio is still the highest form of electronic communication. You don’t need the Internet, television, twitter, on demand media or anything else if you can open a microphone, talk and make a compelling and interesting programme. That’s the greatest gift to have.

Bizarrely I said all of this at a party last year to someone who turned out to be very senior in the BBC World Service. He almost exploded with agreement and enthusiasm – as if he had spent the last 10 years of his life trying to get the same message across to people. Better still, he bought me a drink.

Happy birthday LBC and in the words of “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen – “You had your time, you had the power, You’ve yet to have your finest hour”

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