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

The Christmas robin

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds writes: There’s no mistaking it; the festive season is well and truly upon us. Christmas trees, laden with baubles and twinkling lights, can be seen popping up in windows all over the...

Recording of the week: a whole nother

Monday, December 10, 2018

This week's selection comes from Dr Amy Evans, a recent volunteer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. Whether this phrase amuses or maddens you, it is interesting to consider its provenance. I’m in in the former category, and find this a...

The unseen work of the oral history summariser

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Oral History Curator Mary Stewart reflects on the contributions of volunteers to the oral history collections, particularly remembering the sterling work of Audrie Mundy.

Concert cylinders and the first recording of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music It was exciting to receive an Edison concert cylinder as a donation recently, but much more so to discover that it is probably the first recording by members of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra....

More blog posts