Dave once forced the Shipping Forecast to repeat a broadcast

Droitwich transmitting station (Source: Wikipedia)

Our post yesterday regarding the Shipping Forecast reminded me of a story SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter (G4OYX) once shared. Dave writes:

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.

Happy Days…

Dave G4OYX.

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! 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Dave once forced the Shipping Forecast to repeat a broadcast

  1. rtc

    The UK posters may remember the Britcom “As Time Goes By”.
    In its later seasons the housekeeper would announce “Dinner in
    exactly 12 minutes,right after the Shipping Forecast”.

    1. Ed McCorry

      RTC, I watch “As time goes by” here in NC on PBS every Sunday night and you are absolutely correct. When I first heard Mrs. Bales mention the Shipping Forecast, I always wondered what it was until I searched it out. I love all the BBC comedies. Cheers

  2. Kris G8AUU

    Hi Dave, G4OYX, et al

    Not the only time the Shipping Forcast 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 Forcast, till 0520 when it is followed by the Shipping Forcast. 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 Forcast 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)

  3. Andy

    I bet you were mortified, Dave. I can just see you with your head in your hands as you waited desperately for the rectifiers to cycle.


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