In 1932 work began on the iconic building that is Broadcasting House, home of the BBC.
When the ship-like structure was completed two years later it was already too small, such was the pace of change in media even then.
The growth in broadcast media, may well have been expected to kill off the newspaper, yet here we are 80 years later and they still have a role in modern life, albeit that their future has finally been made precarious by online news, though new business models such as concentrating on advertising so that papers can be given away free of charge seem to have given the London Evening Standard fresh impetus.
During the same decade as the completion of Broadcasting House the BBC also began to transmit television programmes. This might have been expected to spell the end of the fledgling radio service, but the Second World War stopped the development of TV broadcasting in its tracks and radio became the ubiquitous link to what was happening in the world (however adulterated it may have been in the national interest!).
Even as television resumed its inexorable growth when hostilities ended, radio was still part of our lives, partly due to its ability to provide a background to other activities and partly due to the development of technologies that made it portable.
Technology brought other innovations; the music video, satellite broadcasting, digital and more. Perhaps predicting these changes a 30-year-old from Houghton-le-Spring called Trevor Horn got together with Geoff Downes to release a single in 1979. They called themselves The Buggles and the single was Video Killed The Radio Star.
Over 30 years later and radio is still with us, along with all of the technologies that threatened to replace it. There are simply so many channels through which we can access media today; in our homes, in our cars, in our workplaces, using computers, using our phones, and dare I say it, using our radios. The need to fill all of this bandwidth with material means there is more demand for media than ever.
What is more, as technologies make production within the reach of all, it is possible to broadcast to even very small and select audiences (such as through this blog).
All of this bemused a road-sweeper who I met whilst out today. He told me how popular the area was with photographers, so I told him why I was there (though he declined to be photographed). A little further on a group of media students were wielding a trio of tiny video cameras (which were lost on enormous tripods). I don’t know what their objective was, but the girl who was their subject didn’t seem to be in on it!
A little further along I found my portrait for today. Richard and John are both broadcasters for a community radio station in Sunderland called Spark FM. Run jointly by students and members of the community it broadcasts from both the centre of town and the university campus. The guys were clearly doing some serious preparation for their next show as they both hand their heads down in the papers!
So a 10 minute stroll and you have a photo-blogger, a video production and a radio team, all to meet our insatiable appetite for media. Well someone needs to provide the phone content that amused these three: