Once the centre of millions of wartime homes, wireless sets provided moraleboosting entertainment. However, shortages impacted audience numbers and an unglamorous solution came to the listeners’ rescue

Today, because of the dominance of television and the internet, it is easy to forget how paramount radio was in the daily life of the wartime population.

Although Britain’s first regular television broadcasts began in November 1936, the platform really was in its infancy. There was only one channel, broadcasting for two hours per day (except Sundays) and reception was limited mainly to London and the Home Counties. Broadcasts were taken off air two days before the outbreak of war for fear the Luftwaffe would use the VHF transmissions as a beacon, and did not resume until June 1946. Even so, it was missed by few. Televisions cost the equivalent of a saloon car and not many people could afford them.

Radio, however, was very much a home media, but it was still a marvel. Commercial radio had been around for less than 20 years and continued to be something of a novelty. Similarly, although these days mostly associated with television, when Britain’s renowned public broadcaster, the BBC, was founded in 1922 it was for the transmission of radio programmes.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers