The shipping forecast vs The Ashes on Radio 4 LW
We had a long discussion yesterday, considering various tactics for avoiding a possible clash between the late night Shipping Forecast and the end of the last Test Match. Could we only carry it on FM and DAB? That wouldn't work for mariners far from land as they rely on the carrying power of Long Wave. Could we move the Forecast, holding off until the last wicket fell, whenever that might be? We do occasionally delay a forecast but this requires us to give at least 6 hours notice of its new position. It was impossible to know when the match would end and therefore impossible to schedule a delayed forecast.
What the cricket needed - but we could not provide - was flexibility: the forecast provides vital safety information and has to go out at a predictable time. After much debate we decided we had to stay with the planned schedule and hope for the best. In the event the best happened, from the point of view of English cricket, but not for Long Wave listeners who may have missed the final, euphoric moment.
The commentary team were careful to warn that the forecast was about to begin and point to opportunities to listen elsewhere. Happily, the final 90 minutes of coverage was carried uninterrupted not only on digital services but also on 5 Live, so accessible to analogue radios. We regret the heartache caused to some listeners but hope they will understand our dilemma and that their irritation will be assuaged by the joy of a historic victory.
Denis Nowlan is Station Manager at BBC Radio 4