is the Radio Normandy page. Radio Luxembourg has moved to
its own page Radio Luxembourg
NEW! Pages about the
1930s sponsored English language sations in Europe.
1926 - 1939
page is a mask for information on Radio Normandy.
to be added as it becomes available.
Pirate" - the story of Captain L.F. Plugge and
Radio Normandy in (about 30 minutes of
audio). Click here.
photograph is taken from the postcard booklett of Radio
Normandy photographs - available from the France Radio
English language commercial programmes were broadcast to
Europe in 1925. Captain L.F. Plugge had persuaded
Slefridges to sponsor a fashion talk over Radio Paris
which broadcast from a tranmitter in the Eiffel Tower.
Only three people wrote to say that they had heard the
International Broadcasting Company (IBC), started
transmissions over Radio Normandie which had a 25kW
transmitter located at Fécamp on the French coast. These
broadcasts were heard all over Southern England. Later
power was raised to 20kW and on a wavelength of 269.5m
commercial programmes were aimed at a receptive audience.
In March 1938 the wavelength was changed to 212.6m and
later to 274m. Programmes were mainly recorded on discs
in London and featured fifteen minute sponsored shows.
Live programmes also went out.
1939, the orchestral bit of 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'
was used as closedown theme of Radio International,
Fécamp (Radio Normandie before the outbreak of
war). The IBC tried to revive the station as
broadcasting to the British Expeditionary Force in
France, but with all-American programmes, and news
bulletins from the Havas Agency (read by Bob
Danvers-Walker). They were closed down after about
Normandie (1930s) in Real
Audio. This Real Audio recording is linked to Paul's
Radio Museum where other interesting
information is provided.
correspondence was sent to me by Charles Dobson (aka
Rodney) who was 14 at the outset of the War (received by
me on 10/11 April 1999, and reporduced here with
I don't know much
more, except the background from memory (I was 14 at the
time!). On the declaration of war (3 Sept), the BBC
closed all its
national and regional programmes, and substituted a
single 'BBC Home
Service' , consisting of news, gramophone records and
(several times daily)
Sandy Macpherson at the Theatre Organ. Meanwhile
they were moving staff
and equipment to the Colston Hall, Bristol.
The IBC station at Fécamp resumed transmissions in
English at either the
end of September or early October, playing gramophone
records of light and
dance music in daylight hours up to approx 7.15 pm.
At 15 minute intervals
they played the old Radio Normandy chime, followed by the
This is the International Broadcasting Station, preparing
a new service'.
The announcer was neither Roy Plomley nor Bob
Danvers-Walter, but may have
been David Davis (I don't really know). Their
company, Universal Programmes Corporation, based opposite
House at 37 Portland Place, was unable to provide
recorded programmes or
deliver them to the Caudebec studios via Thomas
Cook. The IBC bought and
shipped a large quantity of transcribed programmes from
America direct to
France, and appointed Bob D-Walker chief announcer and
(Before the war, news in English was never broadcast from
Luxembourg or Lyons).
After the 7 pm news from the Havas agency, the station
closed each night
with 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' from, I'm fairly sure,
your record by
Debroy Somers - certainly it was an identical
arrangement. When closed
down by the French authorities, probably at UK Foreign
Office request, they
signed off in the usual way, but followed with 'La
A few small posters appeared in grocers' shops in
Brighton and south coast
towns promoting at least one programme and its
sponsor. This may have been
Carson Robison and his Oxydol Pioneers, a popular Sunday
before the war, but I forget now. Incidentally, there
were no full
commercials with the wartime broadcasts, just the
introductory and closing
announcements and the name of the sponsor, probably added
at the station.
A few weeks after the closedown, the BBC started their
Programme', which later became the 'Light' and now Radio
Hope of some interest. Do you also know the story
of the AEF programme?
The last gasp of Radio
Normandy and the IBC was probably in the Spring of
1940, when a Paris commercial station (normally heard in
transmitted a 15 minute programme in English on Saturday
Following the theme tune, Quand Madelon, the announcer
'This is the Paris broadcasting station, Poste
Parisien. By arrangement
with Radio International, we present "Tommy's
Quarter Hour". '
There followed four or five gramophone records, but no
Parisien itself, and all the French commercial stations,
closed down on the
military defeat, and were replaced by a single station,
Radio Paris, under
German control. After the Liberation, General De
Gaulle forbade their
revival, but Radio Luxembourg resumed transmission in
French (and later
English and German), followed by Europe No.1, a new
station in the Saar,
founded by the pre-war commercial radio entrepreneur,
Louis Merlin. Radio
Luxembourg has been replaced by the brand name 'RTL',
used by both radio
and tv stations in several countries and languages. (See
I have a very vague
idea that after WW2, a former senior manager of the
IBC, possibly Carl something, tried to start again as
Radio Manx from the
I0M, but died before the project could take off.
This was to be on MW or
LW, beamed to North West England, not FM, like the
present Manx Radio.
Sorry I forget his name, but an obituary was in the
Times, mentioning Radio
Normandy and his popularity with the staff. CLT-UFA
took up his idea in a
joint venture with RTE, Atlantic 252, still
on air despite complaints
from the UK, and have phased out Radio Luxembourg.
(Do look at the CLT-UFA
Web site; it has a lot of history and some good
People in this field were incredibly persistent.
For some, it was more a
cause' than a business.
Charles Dobson (aka Rodney)
Here is the wonderful French site about Radio
Normandie: Dans les années 30, l'ancêtre
des radios libres en France s'appelle Radio Normandie.
Située à Fécamp et Louvetot entre Yvetot et Caudebec
en Caux, le "poste" est très écouté et émet
même en anglais le dimanche ! A rough English
translation is provided here.