Who wants to listen to LBC outside London?

The capital's opinionated broadcaster LBC is going national in a digital reincarnation. What will those beyond the M25 make of presenters Boris, Nick et al?

In a country so dominated by the incessant noise of its capital city, radio listeners beyond the M25 might not be overly excited by the prospect of tuning in to a network known as "London's Big Conversation". Which explains why LBC goes national on digital radio today in its third incarnation, as "Leading Britain's Conversation". But, despite its latest name change, the station's schedule has long been filled with presenters who have the national profiles to meet the network's ambitions.

This is the station on which the most famous presenter (Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, host of "Ask Boris") goes on air to describe the second most famous presenter (Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, host of "Call Clegg") as a "prophylactic protection device". It is the station where that same most famous presenter stepped into the building's lift to deliver a four-letter tirade to his mayoral predecessor (Ken Livingstone, another LBC presenter).

With Boris and Nick using LBC as a platform, the Prime Minister, of course, needs to have an ear on the output. Indeed, David Cameron did appear on the station at the time of last year's Conservative Party conference – only to embarrass himself by overestimating the price of a loaf of bread. Under questioning from LBC breakfast host Nick Ferrari, who told him that a value supermarket loaf cost 47p, Mr Cameron explained his guess of "well north of a pound" by saying he baked his own using Cotswold Crunch flour from his constituency.

Politics is a strong suit of a talk station that is a taxi ride from Westminster and not bound by the BBC's strict rules on balance. Rather than weighing the content of each programme and every debate on the political scales, LBC seeks equilibrium by filling the schedule with hosts who have markedly different world views. The result is a unique voice and opinionated broadcasting, which – with a national footprint – makes LBC a dangerous competitor for the BBC talk station, Radio 5 Live.

Those wanting to criticise LBC could say that its middle-aged presenting line-up is hardly representative of one of the most cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse cities on the planet. But Global, the station's owner and the largest of Britain's commercial radio groups, has probably looked at the talent roster and realised that broadcasters such as former Tory minister David Mellor and former Wimbledon tennis player Andrew Castle will not be shunned in the provinces as "London" voices.

LBC was the UK's first commercial station when it launched as the London Broadcasting Company in 1973. In the days before rolling television news and the internet, it was often first to break stories. A young Jon Snow reported from the Balcombe Street siege in 1974. The station's biggest scoop was probably in 1980, when reporter Malcolm Brabant was live on the scene as the Special Air Service tackled the Iranian Embassy siege in South Kensington.

It will not rival TalkSport, although its archive contains a young Jeff Stelling reporting from the 1984 Olympics. Chelsea's Frank Lampard once phoned the station to challenge presenter James O'Brien's criticism of the footballer's parenting.

Throughout its history, LBC has attracted big-name presenters who would be known to a national audience. Simon Bates, Anne Diamond, Carol Thatcher, Matthew Wright, Mariella Frostrup and James Whale have all donned the station's headphones.

More recently, the station has tried to collect the audio clip equivalent of viral YouTube hits. Most involve Boris (going to verbal war with RMT union boss Bob Crow, or campaigning for cyclists) or Clegg (defending his party over the Lord Rennard scandal, or fielding a call from White Dee of Channel 4 show Benefits Street).

From today, the rest of the country will have the chance to join LBC's conversation, whether or not they can remember what its initials now stand for.

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us