Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
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Book:  On Air - A History of BBC Transmission


Review by Monitoring Times magazine in November 2003


By Gayle Van Horn, Frequency Manager

It’s always interesting to ask a shortwave radio listener, what their favorite station is. Among the varied international broadcasters, BBC has steadfastly remained  a favorite. Through the decades, millions of listeners have benefited from the entertainment and information, that BBC brings to the world.

On Air-A History of BBC Transmission, is an exceptional book for any hobbyist interested in the broadcasting history of BBC.  Initially known as “2LO”, they began broadcasting in 1922 from Marconi House in London, as a medium wave domestic radio service. Within two years, now known as the British Broadcasting Company, total service coverage was estimated to be about 65% of the population.

Over half of the book,  is devoted to the reminiscences of the people involved from the early years, to the BBC’s privatization in 1997 by Crown Castle International and Merlin Communications. These fascinating personal recollections reveal a staff devoted to advancing technological and organizational developments among a worldwide network. Go behind the scenes during the turbulent years prior to and during World War II. An exceptional chapter describes the troubled logistics of broadcasting during the Falkland Islands War, from Ascension Islands, before the days of satellite technology. What tenacity!

Ever wondered about the BBC relay stations? Find out why only the committed would endure the early days from the volcanic terrain on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Find out why the Hong Kong relay site was demolished and what was HRH The Duke of Edinburgh doing in Thailand in October, 1996?

On Air-BBC Transmission is an easy and quick read. As a devout listener of the BBC, I found it a fascinating “behind-the-scenes” look at a power house in broadcasting. This nostalgic book celebrates a lifetime involving thousands of people that maintained and operated the BBC facilities that millions depend on...............

My compliments to Norman Shacklady and Martin Ellen...we listeners applaud you. Or as my British colleagues would say, “Simply Brilliant”!

- Gayle Van Horn
Frequency Manager,  SWBC Logs/QSL Report Columnist
Monitoring Times magazine, Brasstown, North Carolina, USA