This essay draws on a major research project exploring the international development of the documentary feature in radio from its emergence and changes in the 1930s (UK) through to the 1960s period, and then after 1968 and responses to the introduction of portable tape recorders used to record in the field. The essay deals specifically with developments within European public broadcasting, offering examples from a number of contexts, but also relates these developments to those in non European countries including Australia at the ABC. The author argues history has largely ignored or overlooked these kinds of cross cultural exploratory and expressive developments in radio, even as this neglected field within public broadcasting and cultural radio history continues to be an important part of public broadcasting output and a significant yet still critically undervalued international media tradition in its own right. Here the author introduces the reader to a diverse generation of artisans, thinkers and skilled craftspeople, across a range of countries, who discovered and launched a whole new field for the radio and for documentary expression, in parallel to developments in cinema. One of the important things this movement offered was a new imaginary for radio, in part made possible by access to documentary sound recordings or 'wild sound' as recorded by co mpletely new lightweight portable recorders and innovations in high precision high fidelity microphones, able to be taken en plein air. This essay focuses on the early 'live' years of radio when actuality was first used in broadcasting and then discusses the 'new' movement for documentary making and 'radio films' which was able to flourish only from the late 1960s period in public service broadcasting.