BBC Radio Five Live

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BBC Radio Five Live is the BBC's radio service providing live BBC News, phone-ins, and sports commentaries. It is the principal radio station covering sport in the United Kingdom, broadcasting virtually all major sports events in the UK or involving British competitors.

It is transmitted via analogue radio on 693 and 909 kHz AM in the mediumwave band, frequencies that had since 1978 belonged to BBC Radio 2, and on digital radio, digital satellite and digital terrestrial television. The station broadcasts from the News Centre at BBC Television Centre.

The station was originally launched as BBC Radio 5 at 9am on August 27 1990, with a brief pre-recorded skit from comedians Trevor Neal and Simon Hickson (consisting of the two larking about in the studio amid the strains of "Sailing By", and Trevor suddenly being cut off while he was reading his so-called "Ode to Radio 5") and a pre-recorded programme by Bruno Brookes (who was doing his live breakfast show on Radio 1 at launch time), and carried a mixture of sports, news, children's programming and drama, broadcasting for about 18 hours per day.

In 1991 Operation Desert Storm was launched, the multinational response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From January 16 Radio 4's FM frequencies were used to provide an all-news network for the coverage of the war. Despite protests from BBC Radio 4 listeners the BBC also received praise for the quality of this service and the speed with which it was set up. Following the end of the conflict Radio 4 resumed its normal schedule but the BBC commenced a review into the possibility of providing a full-time news station, also broadcasting a similar service on long wave during the 1992 UK general election campaign. Due to the resistance to any use of Radio 4 FM or LW frequencies it was decided that Radio 5, criticised by John Birt as "improvised and disjointed", would relaunch as a combined news and sport channel.

The "old" Radio 5 closed down at midnight on Sunday March 27, 1994 following a special programme on the subject of endings, and the new Radio Five Live began its 24-hour service on the morning of Monday, March 28. The tone of the channel, engaging and more relaxed than contemporary BBC output, was the key to the channel's success and would set the model for more BBC News services later in the decade.

Before the launch of digital broadcasting, both versions of the station broadcast for several years on analogue satellite with near-FM quality.

A companion station, BBC Five Live Sports Extra, was launched as a digital-only service on February 2 2002.

The many presenters over the years have included Danny Baker, David Mellor, Nicky Campbell, Stuart Hall, Edwina Currie, Desmond Lynam, Eamonn Holmes, Nick Hancock and Simon Mayo.

Five Live's commercial rival is TalkSPORT, but unlike the commerical television station, Sky Sports, TalkSPORT has acquired few exclusive rights, and non-commercial radio, represented by Five Live remains dominant in radio sport broadcasting in the UK.

See also: List of BBC radio stations

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