BBC Listener Research Department reports, 1937-c.1950

BBC Listener Research Department, 1937-c.1950

BBC Listener Research Department, 1937-c.1950

The Listener Research Department 1937-1950 collection offers a comprehensive picture of audience research in the era before television was a mass medium
Sion NicholaUniversity of Wales, Aberystwyth

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Watch BBC audience research grow from an experiment to profession

This collection contains Audience Research Reports compiled by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Listener Research Department (LRD) between 1937 and 1950. The reports analyse wireless listening habits on both a national and regional level, representing the BBC’s earliest foray into market research. Of particular interest are the reports covering the LRD’s wartime audience research. These demonstrate how the BBC became an invaluable source of information and point of influence for the government. This collection therefore provides a unique insight into the cultural preferences of the British public during the mid-20th century. 

Notes: (1) This collection is accompanied by an online guide, written by Siân Nicholas; (2) To help with searching, optical character recognition (OCR) software has been used on the scanned images of the archived documents, and the resultant uncorrected text has been associated to most images in this collection. The quality of the OCR output varies, depending on the clarity of the typeface, which are often carbon copies of the originals, using relatively low-grade paper and ink available during the austere war and post-war years.


BBC Listener Research Department reports, 1937-c.1950...

Containing 10,298 pages belonging to 51 documents housed in 4 volumes...

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Audience research special reports

BBC WAC ref. R9/9: Relating to specific topics or aspects of audience behaviour between 1937 and 1950, these reports were...

General listening barometers

BBC WAC ref. R9/11 and R9/12: These reports show the numbers of listeners in England to particular radio broadcasts expressed...

Listener research bulletin supplements

BBC WAC ref. R9/3: These supplements cover the period December 1945 to October 1952. Their purpose was, as stated at...

Listener research weekly reports / bulletins

BBC WAC ref. R9/1: This series of reports runs from July 1940 to June 1953. Its title changed to 'Listener...


  • These reports' focus is upon radio audience figures for each week and other measures of how many people tuned into their programs.
  • The 'BBC Barometer' was used to compare listener data for each of the BBC's most popular programs against each other.
  • Listener research bulletins include listeners' opinions on what they would like to hear more or less of. The national mood was also a core concern.
  • Lists of listener research papers tell the reader which questions the BBC was asking its listeners and in some cases, which groups of listeners they were asking.
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