Tag Archives: BBC Radio 4

Atlas Obscura: “This weather report has been making waves for 150 years.”

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who notes that the excellent website, Atlas Obscura, recently featured The Shipping Forecast:

Why a Maritime Forecast Is So Beloved in the United Kingdom

For the penultimate song on their 1994 album Parklife, Blur chose the swirling, meditative epic, “This Is a Low.” The song envisions a five-minute trip around the British Isles as an area of low pressure hits.

“Up the Tyne, Forth, and Cromarty,” sings the lead singer Damon Albarn, “there’s a low in the high Forties.” The song’s litany of playful-sounding place names, including the improbable “Biscay” and “Dogger,” may seem obscure to listeners abroad, but to a British audience, they resonate.

The song’s lyrics were inspired by the Shipping Forecast, a weather report that is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Sailors working around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, recipients of the wrath of the North Atlantic and North Sea, are the ostensible beneficiaries of the forecast.

But, for listeners who tune in while tucked in bed rather than sailing the high seas, the reassuring sound—a simple, steady listing of conditions in the seas around the British Isles, broken down into 31 “sea areas,” most of which are named after nearby geographical features—is something more akin to the beating pulse of the United Kingdom, as familiar as the national anthem or the solemn chimes of Big Ben.[…]

Continue reading the full story via Atlas Obscura.

Thanks for the tip, Eric!

SWLing Post readers know that I’m quite a fan of The Shipping Forecast. We’ve posted a number of articles about the Forecast on the SWLing Post in the past–click here to read through our archives.

When I lived in the UK, I would often fall asleep and/or wake up to the Shipping Forecast. Here in the States, I can listen to the forecast live via the U Twente WebSDR, but I rarely remember to do so.

And, of course, I can navigate to the Radio 4 website and stream current and past forecasts on demand, but I find the audio a little too clean and full fidelity. I prefer listening to my maritime poetry via Amplitude Modulation (AM)!

To satisfy my desire for some AM forecasts, this morning I fed my SSTran AM transmitter with audio from the Radio 4 website, then made a recording with my AirSpy HF+ SDR.

Here’s my AM version of the Shipping Forecast:

Click here to download as an MP3.

For the record: this is what you get when you combine a radio and shipping forecast geek!

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Wireless Nights on BBC Radio 4 features London Shortwave

One of London Shortwave’s portable spectrum capture systems

I am very happy to share that the BBC Radio 4 program Wireless Nights, Series 5, features our own community member London Shortwave this week. The show aired tonight (March 27) and the audio is now available to stream via the Radio 4 website. I’ve also embedded the audio below:

Here’s the description of the show from Radio 4:

Megahertz

Jarvis Cocker navigates the ether as he continues his nocturnal exploration of the human condition.

On a night voyage across a sea of shortwave he meets those who broadcast, monitor and harvest electronic radio transmissions after dark.

Paddy Macaloon, founder of the band Prefab Sprout, took to trawling the megahertz when he was recovering from eye surgery and the world around him became dark. Tuning in at night he developed a ghostly romance with far off voices and abnormal sounds.

Artist Katie Paterson and ‘Moonbouncer’ Peter Blair send Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back, to find sections of it swallowed up by craters.

Journalist Colin Freeman was captured by the Somali pirates he went to report on and held hostage in a cave. But when one of them loaned him a shortwave radio, the faint signal to the outside world gave him hope as he dreamed of freedom.

And “London Shortwave” hides out in a park after dark, with his ear to the speaker on his radio, slowly turning the dial to reach all four corners of the earth

Jarvis sails in and out of their stories – from the cosmic to the captive – as he wonders what else is out there, deep in the noise

Producer Neil McCarthy.

I found Megahertz absolutely captivating! I’m very impressed with how all of the personal adventures in radio, including an array of motivations, were weaved together.

And brilliant job, London Shortwave! It was fun to go on a park outing with you and your spectrum capture gear!

Click here to listen to Megahertz on BBC Radio 4.

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Radio 4 Doc: Learning to Listen

Atwater-Kent-DialLooking back through my notes this morning, I re-discovered this excellent documentary on the early days of radio listening; how radio changed the way we interacted with music and how we interacted with our radios.

(Source: BBC Radio 4)

As broadcasting took the world by storm in the 1920s, the radio quickly became the hub of many households. Entire families would huddle around their receiver, each person individually connected with their own headset.

But for this first generation of radio listeners, the flexible styles of listening that we habitually employ today were by no means innate – many sat silent and fully attentive, listening just as they would in a concert hall.

Historian Dominic Sandbrook charts how a new, more informal style of listening gradually evolved through the 1920s and 30s, by delving into the diaries of the Austrian musician Heinrich Schenker.

Schenker began to record what he heard on the radio within days of the inaugural broadcast from Austria’s first official station, Radio Wien. This rare and fascinating record, which spans just over a decade, offers tangible evidence of how new approaches to listening emerged over these formative years. We’ll follow Schenker’s journey as the radio shifts from being something that demanded his rapt attention, to eventually becoming an integrated part of his domestic life.

Click here to listen to the full documentary on Radio 4.

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BBC Radio 4 doc about the life and trial of William Joyce

williamjoyce_2041800i

William Joyce (a.k.a. “Lord Haw Haw”)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who shares this brilliant radio documentary from BBC Radio 4 about the trial of the infamous Lord Haw Haw.

(Source: Radio 4)

Clive Anderson looks at a variety of famous or infamous cases and retells the story that the case brought into the public eye.

In this programme he explores the 1945 trial of William Joyce – Lord Haw-Haw – for High Treason.

Featuring Professor Colin Holmes, Geoffrey Robertson QC and Professor Jean Seaton.

Click here to listen to the full episode via Radio 4.

As a side note, if you’re interested in WWII propaganda, I would highly recommend the book, Hitler’s Radio War by Roger Tidy.

Click here to read my review of Hitler’s Radio War.

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BBC Radio 4 Extra: The First Pirate

RadioNormandy

The First Pirate is the title of a Radio 4 Extra–an interview with Les Woodland who tells the story of Captain Plugge, founder of Radio Normandy, the first station to take on the BBC.

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Capt Leonard Plugge was the driving force behind Radio Normandy in the early 1930s. He created the International Broadcasting Company in 1931 as a commercial rival to the British Broadcasting Corporation by buying airtime from radio stations such as Normandy, Toulouse, Ljubljana, Juan les Pins, Paris, Poste Parisien, Athlone, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome. IBC worked indirectly with Radio Luxembourg until 1936. World War II silenced most of Plugge’s stations between 1939 and 1945.

Click here to listen to The First Pirate which will be broadcast on Thursday, August 21st 2014 at 05:30, 12:30, and 19:30 UTC and Friday August 22 at 1:30 UTC. 

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BBC broadcasts original D-Day news scripts

Photo: Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day: the WWII Normandy invasion.

In honor, the BBC has been broadcasting the original radio news scripts throughout the day, at the same time of day they would have been originally broadcast. The news scripts are being read by Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Stewart and Toby Jones; the complete set of recordings is available online. You can follow along by reading scans of the original scripts.

Click here to view the list of recordings. It appears that they are available to anyone, regardless of geographic location. There doesn’t appear to be a time limit.

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Today: Choppy seas for the Shipping Forecast

Peeters_Sea_storm

Since the dawn of time, there is, there was, and there always has been…the Shipping Forecast. We set our clocks by it. Despite the complexities of our planet–war, famine, daytime television–the Shipping Forecast has been there for us.  Our steady friend amid the choppy seas of life. Our rock of Gibraltar…our security blanket.

Regardless of our diverse beliefs (or unbeliefs), it seems we all believe in the Forecast. We somehow find ourselves regularly returning to its altar, taking comfort in its soothing ministry. And why should we not? It’s been there, without fail, for ninety years.

That is…until this morning.

This morning, BBC Radio 4, who produces the Shipping Forecast experienced some technical difficulties. These, alas, led to a failure to broadcast the Forecast for the first time in, yes, ninety years.  Andy Sennit shares this article from The Guardian:

It was early-morning chaos and warnings of impending armageddon when BBC Radio 4 failed to broadcast the Shipping Forecast for the first time in more than 90 years.

The BBC radio service is something of an institution, metronomically broadcasting four forecasts a day since 1924, a routine which failed for the first time at 5.20am on Friday.

A technical glitch meant the BBC’s World Service was played in its place, a gaffe that prompted listeners to take to Twitter to voice their bewilderment.

Kirsty Connell said: “Eep. The shipping forecast didn’t get broadcast on @BBCRadio4 this morning. Isn’t that the sign of impending nuclear armageddon?”

Jordan Rowland added: “No shipping forecast? If UK submarines don’t get shipping forecast, don’t they launch nuclear attack?”

The BBC was only able to resolve the issue at 5.40am when it cut back to the Radio 4 programme. Friday morning’s Shipping Forecast eventually aired 6.40am.

[Continue reading…]

If this news has greatly unhinged you (as it has me) rest assured:  the world continues. Thus the Forecast will await us at its regularly scheduled time tomorrow morning.

(Readers, thanks for letting me wax poetic.)

Confused? If you’re wondering what the Shipping Forecast is, check out this previous post.

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