'BBC Radio 4 News FM' in 1991 - 'Scud FM'

Jan 07, 2014, 09:56 PM

It was addictive listening. Rolling news coverage from a land far-off, during the ‘first’ Gulf war of 1991, as military action against Iraq began.

Such was the British interest level, the BBC rose to the challenge of coverage with the creation of a second Radio 4, run by Jenny Abramsky. ‘Radio 4 News FM’ provided a rolling news service, following the four hour midnight news bulletin on the 16th January 1991, until the 2nd March. Meanwhile, the more sedate Radio 4 proper continued next door on Long Wave. Internally, and to some extent externally, the service acquired the name ‘Scud FM’, after Saddam Hussein’s notorious Russian-made weapon, a weapon with which UK listeners became unusually familiar through the station’s compelling broadcasts.

Although praised by many whilst on-air, and at such short notice, the service was not without some, maybe understandable, internal criticism as to the wisdom of the approach. Maybe influenced by the latter, the service closed the moment the conflict ended and the more familiar Radio 4 returned to its FM home. The service was said to have been at the root of the eventual creation of BBC 5 Live.