Broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Always on LW and at the odd moments also on FM at 0048, 0520, 1201 and 1754. 0048 and 00520 also include weather reports from coastal stations and the inshore waters weather forecast. Read out loud with slowly and clearly, in short sentences with few words. Issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency.
Receivable on LW radios in Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, and Southeast Iceland. Also on the British mainland. And the rest of Europe, too!
You may think this seems like the obscure kind of thing that only radio enthusiasts and the people who actually use the information would tune into. You would be wrong. It is very much a British institution, with many people listening to the Shipping Forecast and being able to recite a lot of it.
Maybe it's odd to some that a good percentage of one of the greatest developed countries in the world still have radios and use them frequently, but most Brits are familiar with this quirky little meteorological forecast that they can't really understand. Because they do still have radios. And they do still listen to them, at least at night. And, of course, it's broadcast on the BBC's more high-brow station. The fact that all of this is true and your average high school student is a fan of the Shipping Forecast probably confirms a lot more British Stereotypes than they'd really like.
The fact that the Forecast is read in a metronomic, sombre monotone, is crammed with terms incomprehensible to anyone not versed in meteorology, and includes the names of places, such as "Fair Isle", "Ardnamurchan", "Rattray Head", "Stornaway", "Tyree" and "Cape Wrath", that sound like they belong in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, gives it the feel of a Magical Incantation. Some may defend their listening choices by explaining that, on for five minutes at 1 AM, being recited by a soothing voice, it is the perfect programme to put them to sleep.
- Code Name: Each shipping area is named after a point of interest located within it, such as a sandbank (i.e. Viking), an estuary/firth (i.e. Humber, Thames), an island (i.e. Wight, Lundy), or a port (Dover, Plymouth).
- Strictly Formula: The Forecast is routinely broadcast at 0048 and 0520 every day, with further broadcasts at 1201 and 1754. Each broadcast is limited to 350 words except for the 0048 broadcast, which is 380 words long. Each broadcast follows the same format, beginning with any gale warnings in any sea areas and a synopsis of any depressions and anticyclones in the area. Then, the forecasts for each sea area are read, always beginning with Viking and ending with Southeast Iceland. Finally, any weather observations from weather stations around the UK coast are read off as well.
- Theme Tune: Averted. While the light instrumental "Sailing By" does play before each broadcast at 0048, it is not meant to be a theme song, instead serving as a buffer between the last program and the Shipping Forecast. Since the Forecast starts exactly at 0048, "Sailing By" is usually played as a snippet before the Forecast begins if the last program runs late.
- Weather Report: Shipping Forecast is a weather forcast intended for use by cargo ships. However, it's found a second use among English people as a sleep aid due to its calming, monotonous vocal delivery.