BBC Radio Five Live is the BBC's radio service providing live BBC News, phone-ins, and sports commentaries.
It is transmitted via analogue radio on 693 and 909 kHz AM in the mediumwave band, frequencies that had since 1978 belonged to BBC Radio 2, and on digital radio, digital satellite and digital terrestrial television. The station broadcasts from the News Centre at BBC Television Centre.
The station was originally launched as BBC Radio 5 at 9am on August 27, 1990, and carried a mixture of sports, news, children's programming and drama, broadcasting for about 18 hours per day.
In 1991 Operation Desert Storm was launched, the multinational reponse to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From January 16 Radio 4's FM frequencies were used to provide an all-news network for the coverage of the war. Despite protests from BBC Radio 4 listeners the BBC also received praise for the quality of this service and the speed with which it was set up. Following the end of the conflict Radio 4 resumed its normal schedule but the BBC commenced a review into the possibility of providing a full-time news station, also broadcasting a similar service on long wave during the 1992 UK general election campaign. Due to the resistance to any use of Radio 4 FM or LW frequencies it was decided that Radio 5, criticised by John Birt as "improvised and disjointed", would relaunch as a combined news and sport channel.
The "old" Radio 5 closed down at midnight on Sunday March 27, 1994 following a special programme on the subject of endings, and the new Radio Five Live began its 24-hour service on the morning of Monday, March 28. The tone of the channel, engaging and more relaxed than contemporary BBC output, was the key to the channel's success and would set the model for more BBC News services later in the decade.
Before the launch of digital broadcasting, both versions of the station broadcast for several years on analogue satellite with near-FM quality.
A companion station, BBC Five Live Sports Extra, was launched as a digital-only service on February 2, 2002.
The many presenters over the years have included Danny Baker, David Mellor, Nicky Campbell, Stuart Hall, Edwina Currie, Desmond Lynam, Eamonn Holmes, Nick Hancock and Richard Bacon.
See also: List of BBC radio stations
- BBC Radio Five Live (http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/index.shtml)
- BBC Radio Five Live - live streaming audio (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/fivelive.shtml?listen)
- BBC Radio Five Live - Live streaming (RealAudio) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/live/surestream.ram)
- BBC Five Live Sports Extra (http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/sportsextra/)
- BBC Five Live Sports Extra - Live streaming (RealAudio) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/live/surestream_sportsextra.ram)