It is the 75th Anniversary of the BBC World Service. I feel strangely proud that we broadcast such a service across the world. That no matter where you are in the world you can hear the voice of the BBC talking to you, telling you what is going on – and where countries try to clamp down on the freedom of the media and perhaps even switches off its transmitters, the BBC has been known to turn up its signal in neighbouring countries so that people can still pick up the World Service even if they get no other news or objective media.
If you click here you can see a timeline of the World Service and it is worth listening to the Lord Reith clip as he makes the very first broadcast and tells people that the World Service (or Empire Service as it was then known) was not going to be very good and people shouldn’t expect too much. Brilliant! But you also get to hear the live reaction of a journalist when the Hindenburg exploded and other key moments in history. Of course it was also the World Service that has such a bit impact on Alan Johnston while he was in captivity earlier this year because it was his link to the outside world. A really great service.
Talking of really great services… Geoff has done his annual review of the year – but with the added complication that he now lives in the US but he has done it from a UK perspective. I haven’t started to download any of it yet but it’s always very good and then you vote on which were your top five songs of 2007 by sending him an e-mail. I thought last year was going to be his last year, but it has made a welcome return this year, so I’ll get listening asap.