National Radio Archive

National Radio Archive

We aim to create a digital radio archive which will preserve a representative proportion of ongoing UK radio output.

Published date:

Background

The British Library is recognised as the home of the nation’s radio archive. The current radio collection comprises around 250,000 hours. Additionally, via a longstanding arrangement with the BBC, the Library also provides research access to the extensive radio collections of the BBC Archives.

However, of the estimated 3 million hours of radio broadcast in the UK each year from 700 stations, the Library is acquiring a mere 20,000 hours (mostly news-based content). It is estimated that 92% of current UK radio is not being properly preserved, with only 2% being made available for potential research post-transmission.

The project

To address the gaps in our recordings, the National Radio Archive project (part of the Save our Sounds programme) plans to create a digital radio archive that will preserve a representative proportion of ongoing UK radio output and make this available for research.

Our first step is to build a pilot radio archive, covering up to 50 stations from across the UK, with the potential to develop this into a long-term service.

We will be using speech recognition technology to increase the searchability of radio and to encourage its integration with other, text-based media. The selection of content for the archive will be determined as much by research need as preservation requirements, and we will be interested to learn from research projects where we might be able to collaborate as part of the pilot development.

You can follow developments via the Sound & Vision blog.

Projects

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage.

Directory of UK Sound Collections

The British Library has created a directory of UK sound collections

The Future of Radio

This 2016 project investigated the future of radio and radio archives.

Opening Up Speech Archives

This AHRC-funded project studied the use of speech recognition technologies

All projects

Blog posts

Open House 2018 – Alexandra Road Estate, Camden

Friday, September 21, 2018

This weekend is Open House and one of the highlights is the Alexandra Road Estate, which features heavily in the British Library oral history collections.

Seeing sound: What is a spectrogram?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Greg Green, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage writes: In this digital age, most of us are familiar with audio waveforms, the ‘wavy’ images that represent the dynamic course of a particular sound recording. Waveforms are in fact...

Recording of the week: Whistling to the bujɔk - Batek fishing techniques

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Coleridge Research Fellow Dr Alice Rudge writes: The Batek are a hunting and gathering people who dwell in the lowland rainforests of Peninsular Malaysia. When visiting recently, I accompanied Batek friends on a fishing trip and was taught some new...

Mary Jane Long

Friday, September 14, 2018

MJ Long, who died recently, was one of the key architects of the British Library. She was interviewed interviewed by Jill Lever for Architects' Lives in 1997-98.

More blog posts