Radio Luxembourg signs off

Stephen Ward
Sunday 27 December 1992 00:02

RADIO LUXEMBOURG, which introduced millions of Britons to pop music, will cease broadcasting in English at the end of the year after more than half a century.

For the past 12 months only listeners with a satellite dish or cable televison have been able to receive the programmes which, at their peak, drew more listeners than the BBC Light Programme.

Luxembourg's biggest audience, estimated at 10 million, was on Sunday nights in the Sixties when it broadcast the top 20 hits in an hour-long programme, sponsored by Stayblonde and Brunitex shampoos and Horace Batchelor, who created an infra-draw method for forecasting which matches would be drawn in the football pools.

Disc jockeys such as Jimmy Savile and Pete Murray started on Radio Luxembourg. When it was founded before the war, the station was intended not as a pop music station but as a rival to all the BBC services.

Operations started from Fecamp, the home of Benedictine liqueur, between Dieppe and Le Havre on the coast of northern France. The French objected to their airwaves being polluted by the sound of English and ordered transmissions to cease.

The company heard that a new high-power transmitter in Luxembourg was nearing completion and moved its base there. Transmission started in 1933.

Luxembourg's fortunes began to decline with the advent of offshore pirate stations in the 1960s. The BBC set up Radio 1, commercial radio was legalised in Britain in 1973, and its notoriously crackly transmissions on 208 metres medium wave were stopped at the end of last year when the station switched to Astra. An estimated 2.8 million people in Britain once listened to its programmes on medium wave, and up to 1.8 million were believed to have had access via Astra. The final programme will end at 1am on 31 December.

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