The Today Programme was launched on 28 October 1957 on the original BBC Home Service. The initial concept of the programme was to give listeners a morning alternative to light music, through the medium of factual debate and analysis of the day's news and current affairs.
Jack De Manio was the first principal presenter of The Today Programme from 1958 until 1971. This is when the format of the programme changed from one to two presenters, which remains the same up to the present day. The Today programme has drastically changed since it's original broadcast with more focus on national politics and under the leadership of John Humphries has become the third most popular radio programme in the United Kingdom
The main aspect of the programme is to keep the listeners engaged on the main news topics of the day. Many of the leading politician and businessmen listen to Today, even The Queen has confessed to being an avid listener. The "Big 8.10 " interview has become the main institution for British politics and current affairs as it features an interview focusing on the main news topics of the day.
According to RAJAR (Radio Joint Research Audience Limited) in August 2010 The Today Programme had listening figures of 6.98 million listeners, compared to 6.44 million listeners in the previous quarter and 6.51 million in 2009. This has made The Today Programme the third most popular radio programme in the UK behind The Chris Moyles breakfast show on BBC Radio One and The Chris Evans Breakfast on BBC Radio Two.
Coincidentally all three programmes are breakfast shows, showing competition for listeners is at it's highest during this time frame. This shows that the general consensus over the last year has seen The Today Programme have the biggest rise in listening figures. I feel this is because of the affect the credit crunch has had on the country as a whole. This has meant that the British population has become more reliant on wanting to know about the latest business and financial news that may affect them personally.
It was difficult to establish the target demographic for The Today Programme, as the information was very limited on the RAJAR and BBC websites. However, I would suspect that the majority of the targeted demographic for The Today programme would lie in the ABC1 social grouping. This cannot be fully determined though, due to the lack of information that I had available.
The BBC is not permitted to advertise or carry sponsorship on any of its broadcasts and public services, including radio. This is because the BBC is funded by the taxpayer via the television license and has to remain free from dictation from commercial advertising. This means that is a presenter is talking about the clothing they are wearing, the person can only describe the brand and cannot name it under any circumstances. This is because it would be endorsing the brand and promoting their products to listeners and viewers.
The way the BBC will advertise is by presenting trails promoting their own programming. This is evident within The Today Programme where a trail for a programme being broadcasted later on in the day will be played after or being the news to keep to listeners informed about what is coming up later, trying to entice them to keep listening.
The news agenda of The Today Programme tries to keep an unbiased stance on the news, but will aim to keep the public informed and to generate opinion throughout the masses. The BBC has to keep an unbiased opinion on the news, as it is a neutral medium for news in the United Kingdom. However I do feel that Today is generally more right wing and supportive of the Conservative in the way they handle and broadcast the news. This may be because of the station being stereotyped as an "old person" radio station and if they lie within the ABC1 audience grouping, then their political allegiance will be mainly Conservative.
I feel personally that both The Today Programme and The Daily Telegraph both have a news agenda that generate opinions from facts and statistics, as well as their key right wing stance about the state of the economical and political climate currently being faced in the United Kingdom.
Personally I feel that The Today Programme has become an institution for news and current affairs in the United Kingdom. However I can not see our generation listening to BBC Radio Four in 40 or 50 years time because of the fear of growing old and society perceptions of trying to feel as young as possible.
The Today Programme I feel though can break the age barrier because after listening to the programme, my opinion has changed and I feel I could listen to the programme now for enjoyment. I think The Today Programme will exist in 50 years time, but I am not sure if it will be broadcasted on the same radio station.