Radio, or rather wireless as it was then known, came to the South Hams along with the rest of the South West a century ago today with 5PY broadcasting both national and regional programming from Plymouth.

The service was originally provided by the British Broadcasting Company, owned by a number of wireless manufacturers which started to broadcast to London in 1922 as 2LO, expanding to other cities.

It wasn’t until 1927 that it was renamed the British Broadcasting Corporation and ceased to be a private company.

5PY began broadcasting from a lane near Derry’s clock on March 28 1924 and had a grand opening at Plymouth’s Guildhall.

The station was run by a team of four led by Clarence Goode and including engineer David Curd. By the end of the year there were 10 staff and all of them were multi-skilled. The Plymouth Radio Circle Club was one of the most popular programmes.

5PY ended in 1934 with the Children’s Hour drama but the studio and transmitter continued in operation and both national and regional programming contributions continued to be made.

In 1937 a new studio complex opened at Ingledene, a villa in Mannamead to contribute to the BBC West Region based in Bristol. The signal was broadcast from a new high-powered transmitter at Start Point.

The old 5PY city centre base was destroyed in the blitz but Start Point became probably the most important wireless transmitter in Britain as it broadcast to the Allied Expeditionary Forces.

The first regional news broadcast, from Bristol, was heard on October 1 1956.

The following year the region’s first journalist/reporter was recruited and at the end of September a Plymouth news desk was opened.

Commercial radio came to the region on May 19 1975 with Plymouth Sound led by David Bassett. It once had a 63 per cent audience reach, the highest in the UK, and a loyal audience in western parts of the South Hams.

Meanwhile there was a regional radio programme on BBC Radio 4 from Mannamead called Morning Sou’West. The programme ended a few days before BBC Radio Devon launched on January 17 1983.

Since then a number of other independent local radio stations serving at least parts of the South Hams have come or gone- DevonAir (now reprised by the former East Devon Radio),Gemini Radio, Palm FM, The Breeze and Radio Plymouth.

The two biggest boys on the block, Plymouth South to the west and Gemini FM were both taken over by the countries’ biggest commercial radio group, Global and became part of the Heart network while Radio Plymouth and The Breeze were snapped up by the second biggest group, Bauer and are now part of Greatest Hits Radio.

There are one or two community stations audible locally but the only station to actually broadcast from within the district is Soundart Radio which began broadcasting to the Totnes area on January 26 2009. It is billed as an arts radio station and the programming is a very eclectic mix which reflects the community.

Former home of Plymouth Sound in Earl's Acre
Former home of Plymouth Sound in Earl's Acre (Richard Harding)