Jon Snow - Balcombe Street Siege - LBC/IRN

Dec 26, 2012, 11:57 PM

The Balcombe Street Siege lasted from 6th December 1975 to 12th December. It ended with the surrender of four IRA and two hostages being released.

These were before the days of rolling TV news channels, and before even BBC 5 live on radio, so the only 'rolling news channel' we had was a young LBC. Despite its own troubles as a struggling new business, it was certainly learning early lessons on journalistic agility at little expense: lessons which others would learn later.

One LBC journalist, now with TV news, Jon Snow, was cutting his broadcasting teeth back then. It was Jon who provided the minute by minute commentary, using what was described as a mobile phone. This commentary is said to be the first broadcast in this way.

In the 70s, mobile phones were more like two-way-radios, so this was hardly a case of Jon grabbing even an early i-phone. Paul Easton tells me he was actually putting to good use some equipment which had been freed when a radio car was decommissioned in a cost-saving. But there is no doubt that he certainly was using primitive equipment in a way the BBC would not have, to produce compelling actuality.