Media Lifeline: LBC

After a series of relaunches, the radio company renowned for its phone-ins is now looking to reposition as a digital entity.

1973: On 8 October, the London Broadcasting Company launches the UK's first legal commercial independent local radio station. One of its early stars is Janet Street-Porter. It also provides a news syndication service for other emerging independent radio stations.

1994: Having lurched from crisis to commercial crisis for almost two decades, the London Broadcasting Company, owned at this point by Shirley Porter's Chelverton Investments, is sold to Reuters. Reuters rebrands LBC's FM service as London News 97.3 and its medium wave counterpart as London News Talk 1152.

1996: Reuters dilutes its interest by transferring the LBC asset to a consortium called London News Radio Limited. Alongside Reuters itself, shareholders include ITN, Daily Mail & General Trust and GWR Group. The LBC brand is revived on medium wave, but the FM service is renamed News Direct 97.3 FM.

2002: But the property is sold on again - this time to Chrysalis Group - and the two stations become LBC 97.3 and LBC News 1152. Despite hiring celebrity presenters such as Boy George and Sandi Toksvig, audience progress proves hard to achieve.

2007: With speculation continuing that Chrysalis might still be seeking to dispose of its radio interests, and that LBC might be subject to a management buyout, the FM property is now relaunched as London's Biggest Conversation. The station has always majored on user-generated content (usually phone-in contributions from deranged cab drivers), but the aim now is to reposition it as a Web 2.0 multiplatform digital asset.

Fast forward ...

2009: And, indeed, Chrysalis does sell up, this time to Guardian Media Group. The Guardian rebrands it as the Lifestyle Broadcasting Collective, run conjointly with community support groups. Its user-generated mobile discussion groups become a firm favourite of pedicab and rickshaw drivers in the Soho and Islington areas of the capital.