Death of Sir Winston Churchill

Jan 05, 2015, 07:37 AM

To this day, radio stations have procedures poised for responding to major events or significant deaths. In the case of commercial radio, these were even prescribed by the regulator until the 90s.

Now, alongside the necessary news coverage, it’s a case of simply responding with the right tone rather than switching quickly and wholly to ‘obituary mode’, although sensible stations still have everything needed for an adjustment in a single place, with staff briefed. Different formats will respond in different ways, dependent on the significance of the event to the likely audience.

By the 90s, as the UK became increasingly casual about its relationship with the Royal Family, many programmers half-smiled at the dog-eared obit procedures, as they suspected they’d be unlikely to plough into serious music for hours on any death. Those thoughts were cast aside on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, where the majority of stations did adjust their output significantly in the wake of the shock announcement.

Witness here one announcement of the death of wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, on the BBC World Service in January 1965. Note too the overall style - with lengthy gaps - and the original pips, without the last one lengthened.

BLOG on the issue of obituary broadcasts: