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BBC Radio 4 – Bells on Sunday

Some tips on providing recordings for broadcast by Michael Orme

What the BBC says

Ideally the recording should be supplied on a CD. Uncompressed 16 or 24 bit recording in .wav format is preferred; but mp3 is also acceptable. We rarely accept recordings made on 'cassette' tape as they nearly always tend to be not of broadcast quality. Please use a good quality stereo microphone. Mono recordings are not suitable.

Try to find a position to record the bells that is normally quiet, e.g. we advise not next to a busy road/railway/flight path. If this is not possible, plan the recording for a known quiet time – or wait for the area to become quiet; please avoid background conversation at all times. We suggest choosing a day that isn’t windy or rainy to record.

We suggest using a stand to keep the microphone as still as possible (we often hear microphone handling noise on recordings sent to us). Beware of bird song during a recording.

If this is to be an outside recording then stand about 10-15 metres away from the tower and point the microphone about halfway up the tower; that should produce a good sound. If this sounds muffled try pointing higher up the tower, if too tinny, try lower down or angling the microphone away.

Please record 10-15 minutes of bells. This will allow us to select the best 2 minutes.

Added advice with approval from the BBC

As broadcast time is limited I advise no more than 20 seconds of rounds before commencement of the touch, better still start recording (or edit the rounds) during a touch. In order for the public to latch on and begin to understand the music it is a good idea to start your recording just before a course end in odd bell methods especially in Caters and Cinques, or just prior to the rollups as in say, 3 leads of Bristol Major. Multiple rollups off the front would also be of interest. Separate tracks with different methods are acceptable. Please also include some written notes to enable the BBC presenter to give hopefully the correct broadcast information (am still working on that one with some older recordings). I am incidentally able to recommend a broadcast start point.

Dare I at this point mention that decent ringing is also a major consideration!

If you have a particular Sunday (well in advance) that you would like to have your recording broadcast please let me know (800th anniversary of the building of the tower, that sort of thing). It is possible within the small amount of funding for this programme for a photo of the band or tower to be on the page shown during the broadcast, no guarantee but I will do my best to plead your case. I submit the schedule for broadcast approval about one month ahead in order to meet the Radio Times print deadline. New recordings are run through with the programme producer so can take longer to schedule.

So that I can check the recording and make any comments (if needed) send your recording to me at:
5 Overton Close, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 1JZ
Please also email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. giving the date you posted the media and I will confirm its safe arrival.

Examples of the type of information required include, Founder(s) and year, Tenor weight, method(s), et c., et c. A little history, that sort of thing. Can I suggest you listen to a few Sundays broadcasts for a taste of the requirements at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006sgsh For this you will need BBC iPlayer, if not already installed on your PC it can be downloaded when you first visit the website.

After a cleanout during my early visits the BBC now has around 90 decent recordings. They are anxious to add to their collection from towers and not just from the UK. The programme producer is well aware of the rather early and late broadcast slots but a change of schedule times = small cogs turning very slowly. One day perhaps.

Finally, please encourage as many people as possible to listen to Bells on Sunday. The Ringing World now publishes the forthcoming scheduled broadcasts on a monthly basis.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time – 01260 278211 or by email. I look forward to hearing your results.

Michael Orme
CCCBR Public Relations Committee