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6BM Calling – ‘We Do Hope You Can Smell the Pines’

15 February 2007

Professor Sean Street In 1923, when radio in Britain was young, Bournemouth was privileged to host one of the country's first ever stations: 6BM.

Now, some 84 years later, Professor Sean Street of Bournemouth University will look back at 6BM’s contribution to Britain's broadcasting history in the first of a series of talks at Bournemouth’s Hotel Miramar.

Professor Street, the UK’s first Professor of Radio, will deliver the first of The Miramar Talks – An Excursion into Radio and Television History on Thursday 22 February.

Professor Street, who heads the Centre for Broadcasting History based within BU’s renowned Media School, will examine Bournemouth’s claim to be a centre of radio innovation.

His talk will encompass decades of development, from the early experiments of Guglielmo Marconi and 6BM to more contemporary developments, including 2CR and Hope FM.

The development of 6BM is a subject particularly well known to Professor Street.

His programme from a couple of years ago for BBC Radio 3, entitled "6BM Calling - We do hope you can smell the pines," recounted how the station made an important contribution to British broadcasting history.

6BM opened in October of 1923 in a building on Holdenhurst Road as one of eight original regional outlets of the BBC.

BM regularly broadcast concerts by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, which became the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under its founder, Sir Dan Godfrey.

The phrase 'We do hope you can smell the pines' was the original call sign of the station which was described by Lord Reith as 'the jewel in the crown of the BBC.'

By the 1930s, 6BM gave way to the fully networked corporation but not before the station became the first ever in Britain to broadcast a ‘commercial’.

"Following a concert by the Orchestra, Sir Dan Godfrey encouraged listeners to 'come to Bournemouth and hear the Orchestra perform live,' for which he received a dressing down by superiors for 'advertising' on the air!” says Professor Street.

"6BM also boosted the career of one of Britain's best loved and most revered broadcasters, Richard Dimbleby, who used the station's facilities to relay a report he'd done on a champion cow from Wiltshire," Professor Street continues.

"Dimbleby famously recalled the moment, which I was fortunate to be able to use in my programme, where the cow gave a moo at just the right time.

"Sadly, virtually all of the presenters and technical people who worked on 6BM have long since gone but, fortunately, I have archive recordings made when I did a piece for BBC Radio Solent in 1973 to mark the station's 50th anniversary that I used in my recent programme to give those 'radio pioneers' a chance to tell their own stories, in their own words."

Event Details

Bournemouth University’s The Miramar Talks: An Excursion into Radio and Television History commence on Thursday 22 February at 7.00pm at the Hotel Miramar on the East Overcliff Drive in Bournemouth.

Admission is £6.00 per session (payable on the night) or £30.00 for the whole programme (if paid for in advance).

Refreshments will be provided and each talk is followed by a question and answer session with the speaker.

The Miramar Talks – An Excursion into Radio and Television History – will continue throughout March with Professor Street’s colleagues from the Centre for Broadcasting History taking centre stage. Future topics will focus on:

  • Pre-War Radio Development and Design (1st March)
  • The Early Days of ITV’s ‘This Week’ (8th March)
  • The First Pirates – Pre-War Commercial Radio in the UK (15th March)
  • Panorama and the Iraq War (20th March)
  • Satire in the 1960s: the BBC’s ‘That Was The Week That Was’ (29th March).

The Miramar Talks are part of BU’s Community Learning Programme of short courses, workshops and taster sessions covering a wide range of topics and experiences.

For further information on the programme, please contact Andrew White or Helen Travers on (01202) 961225 or email:

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