20 December 2013

I Confess! I Too Am A Fan of The Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 1.32.21 AMMy favorite city in the world is London and even when I am not there, I frequently keep up to date with what’s happening in the UK and around the world by listening to BBC Radio 4. British radio is much different from radio in America. There are excellent programs from comedies to game shows and even a show on gardening that get huge ratings. Shows that long since moved to TV here in the States.

NPR did a great piece about the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4 this week, and it is a particular favorite of mine, and not just because I’m a weather junky. As the piece on NPR’s All Things Considered pointed out, it is just downright soothing and it is an institution at the BBC and in the UK. Radio 4 used to be called the Home Service, and the BBC has always led into the forecast for near and offshore waters with a very relaxing rendition of “Sailing By”. Who knew the science of meteorology, and a weather forecast could be so soothing to the soul!

BBC Radio 4 broadcasts on what we call FM here, but they also broadcast on a band we don’t have on our car radios, called long-wave. Our lowest AM stations are around 540 kilocycles but BBC Radio 4 long-wave is down lower at 198 kilocycles. These lower frequencies have much longer reach at night especially and I have heard it clearly near the German border.

I liked to catch the shipping bulletin that airs at 12:48 AM UK time. It ends with the announcer wishing you a good night followed by God Save The Queen, and then Radio 4 turns it signal over to the World Service until morning.

The NPR piece is HERE.

The Shipping forecast for Friday at 12:48 AM is HERE.