The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

#046 Justin Webb on Leonard Crocombe... and January 1923

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Episode notes

For episode 46 we're joined by one of today's (and Today's) top broadcasters: Justin Webb. Justin's new book 'The Gift of a Radio: My Childhood and Other Train Wrecks' chronicles his lifelong partnership with radio, from an unusual childhood improved by the arrival of an ITT Tiny Super radio, to anchoring the Radio 4's Today programme.

But he's just the latest of 3 generations of broadcaster in his family. Justin's grandfather Leonard Crocombe was not only the first Radio Times editor, but also briefly a broadcaster in 1923 - something which even Justin didn't know. Hear Leonard Crocombe tell a tale or two...

Plus we continue to tell our own tale, of the broadcasting in January 1923 - from reactions to the first OBs to the Veterans of Variety, via Burns Night, Dame Nellie Melba reading to the children on Australia Day, and the BBC finally getting its licence.



  • Justin's book is available in all places that sell books, eg here.
  • Hear more of Leonard Crocombe on this marvellous gramophone record, courtesy of AusRadioHistorian on Youtube:
  • In the podcast I talk about my visit to The Radio Museum in Watchet, Somerset. Here's a video tour given to me by owner Neil Wilson. Watchet! I mean, watch it. Then visit it. In Watchet.
  • I also mention George Robey and Alma Adair's comedy broadcast (thanks Alan Stafford!) - a pic of that moment is here.
  • Thanks too to Andrew Barker, our Newspaper Detective, for details of the newspaper articles.
  • The Pause for Thought slot I mention is now on the BBC Sounds app here and there's more on the history of Pause for Thought on Andy Walmsley's great blog:
  • My tour of The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 continues! See for details
  • Find us on Facebook and Twitter - @bbcentury
  • Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music
  • My mailing list is at 
  • Support the show at - inc behind-the-scenes video tours etc! All tiers get all videos from now on (but not historic videos - they're for £10/mth-ers - but going forward, everyone gets everything new I post - levelling the playing field! Do join.)
  • We're nothing to do with the BBC, y'hear! 

Thanks for listening.

Next time: The end of 2MT, and Peter Eckersley joins the BBC...