With all of the recent postings about the Shipping Forecast, I thought I’d share this excellent little video produced by the Met Office:
Thank you, George!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Kris Partridge (G8AUU) who shares the following comment in reply to our post about Dave’s experience forcing the Shipping Forecast to repeat a broadcast:
Hi Dave, G4OYX, et al
Not the only time the Shipping Forecast has had to be repeated for ‘Operational Error’
I hold my hand up for having had a broadcast repeated.
One morning, whilst still under the duvet, I found myself still listening to the overnight simulcast of BBC World Service on the BBC Radio 4 outlets. The simulcast of World Service is scheduled from 0100 local, just after the 0048 Shipping Forecast, till 0520 when it is followed by the Shipping Forecast. That wasn’t right, it now being around 0540. A quick check on the LF output, I was listening on my VHF-FM alarm radio, again it’s World Service. Something not quite right..!
Having the internal extension number of LCR (London Control Room) at BH (Broadcasting House) I made a quick call. A voice I recognised answered and after a short conversation was assured it would be remedied.
It was a few minutes later the Shipping Forecast was going out on 198 kHz and other R4 frequencies, followed by a short apology ” for technical reasons”.
A later phone call and heard, the overnight software update had managed to have done an update where it shouldn’t have.! I think a few red faces all round in the IT department.
So Dave the transmitters were OK it was the feed this time.
73 de Kris (G8AUU)
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kris!
I mean, what are the odds that two people in our Post community have forced a re-broadcast of the Shipping Forecast??? Anyone else want to make a confession? 🙂
I worked at the Droitwich Transmitting Station through 1972-1974, the home of the BBC UK Long Wave 1500 m/200 kHz service as it was then.
In the summer of 1973 I was junior member of the engineering team, a 21 year-old Technical Assistant, and manned the control room for the four services from the site, Radio One, 1214 kHz, Radio Two, 200 kHz and Radio Four, 1052 kHz.
It was customary to check the two 200 kW transmitters, T7A and T7B for power balance prior to the Shipping Forecast and I duly went out in the transmitter hall just before the start at 1355.
I noted one was a little down and the other a little high so I pressed what I thought was the raise / lower buttons on the control desk. Unfortunately I had pressed the main on/off buttons instead.
The pair of transmitters came instantly off the air. I could hear on the audio monitoring the announcer starting the broadcast… it takes a while to reinstate the mercury arc rectifiers as the regulators had to run all the way down to zero and then back up to 14 kV.
By the time I had got it back on the air he was just finishing so we had to contact London and arrange a repeat after the 1400 news bulletin… Ooops!
I was much more careful after that when adjusting the transmitters.
The Senior Maintenance Engineer was not best pleased, as he had to write up the shutdown report for London citing “Operational Error” as the cause.
That’s a brilliant story, Dave! Thank you so much for sharing. Oh…I’m sure it’s a lot easier to laugh about it now than it was when it happened! 🙂
I know a number of readers to the SWLing Post like to hear the UK Shipping Forecast read on the BBC. It is always transmitted by an announcer with impeccable clarity and authority. I came across the following on YouTube which, if you have not heard it before is quite amusing.
David – G4EDR
That is hilarious, Dave! Thank you for sharing! After listening to Perkins read the forecast, YouTube suggested I also listen a version by Stephen Fry. Here’s it is:
How fun! As I’ve mentioned before, I used to listen to the shipping forecast regularly when I lived in the UK. I really do miss hearing it over the air. State side, my only two options are to stream it via Radio 4 or (better) tune in via the U Twente (or similar European) WebSDR.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Erica, who writes:
“I saw this article about the demise of the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 Longwave and thought readers might be interested:
I’m not a fan of DAB radio and my bedroom radio aerial has to be positioned just so to get radio 4 FM with cclarity, so I will be disappointed if Longwave eventually gets switched off. That’s not to mention all the people–however many there may be–who don’t have easy ways to get weather info out at sea.”
Here’s an excerpt from The Telegraph:
It has kept sailors safe on the ocean waves for 90 years, becoming just as much a part of national consciousness as cricket, cups of tea and The Archers.
But the days of hearing the Shipping Forecast out on a boat may be numbered thanks to the demise of long wave technology, a veteran announcer has said.
Peter Jefferson, who read the Shipping Forecast to Radio 4 listeners for 40 years, said the “very old” transmitters which worked on long wave could soon be retired.
If that was to happen, he said, anyone more than 12 miles from the coastline would be unable to hear the shipping forecast on long wave, ending a Radio 4 tradition dating back to 1924.
Speaking at the Radio Times Festival, in Hampton Court, Mr Jefferson said the soothing tones of the Shipping Forecast would then be left to its many fans who choose to listen to it from their homes in lieu of a “sleeping pill”.
“Long wave reaches much further than FM, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“So FM would be totally useless for shipping beyond 12 miles from land.
[…]A spokesman for the BBC said they were no firm plans to end long wave broadcasting, and no date set for when the technology could run out.
The service currently reaches as far as south-east Iceland, and is occasionally picked up as far as 3,000 miles away.
Of course, I haven’t heard the Shipping Forecast on longwave since moving back to the States from the UK. Still, I would be very sad to hear the program and the longwave medium fall silent.
I would like to start adding some Shipping Forecast programs on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive where we also curate select mediumwave and longwave recordings. If you have the means to record episodes on longwave, please consider helping us!