“In the face of the internet, mobiles and instant messaging you might expect the hobby of amateur radio – or HAM radio as it’s also known – to be on the decline.
But in the last three years, the number of amateur radio licences has risen by over 8,000 – with 80,000 currently issued in the UK.
Using designated frequencies, amateur radio enthusiasts communicate with people over the world. Many prefer the relaxed approach of ‘rag chewing’ or chatting at length with people, who often become friends – while at the opposite end of the spectrum ‘contesters’ compete to make as many contacts as possible in a given period.
The hobby is also a public service, with Raynet (in the UK) stepping in during emergencies when regular communication networks fail. Amateur radio enthusiasts are currently contributing to relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.”
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.”
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!
Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares the following recording and notes:
A few snippets from my old shortwave tapes that were too short to upload individually. These were made using a GE portable multi band that had poor selectivity, hence the annoying ute during the BBC clip.
Times of individual clips are:
00:00 – 01:59: 1979, July 19 – RCI, frequency announcements in English and french.
01:59 – 09:51: 1979, July 20 – BBC, newscast, bothered by an annoying utility station.
09:51 – 11:38: 1981, August 28 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
11:38 – 14:52: 1981, August 29 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2