Beep at top of the hour on WBZ disappeared

Garrett Wollman
Wed Sep 26 21:38:59 EDT 2018

<<On Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:33:15 +0100, Chris Hansen <> said:

> There have been discussions as to how to synchronise the [BBC R4]
> pips on digital radio--nothing has come of them. But removing the
> pips would mightily disturb the Colonal Blimps in the suburban and
> rural parts of the UK--they distrust change and would write nasty
> letters to the Times, the Mail, and the Telegraph. So the pips,
> inaccurate as they may be, remain.

If, as Eli says, the Whirled Service pips actually hit the top in his
studio in Boston, it suggests they've managed to fix this for the
codec and distribution delays in the US at least.  I suspect they run
the studios some number of seconds ahead of the official time as a
buffer for distribution delays.  (Are they still using satellite or is
this all fiber now?)

> Interesting fact: The BBC announcers are schooled to be very careful not
> to talk into the pips--when they do, it's referred to as "crashing the
> pips".

In a similar vein: there is a policy across all of BBC radio that, in
any situation where the pips are either simulated or played back off a
recording, no more than three of the pips may be reproduced, so as not
to confuse Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.  You can hear this on "Dead
Ringers", for example, when they do an impression of Neil Nunes
reading a fake news bulletin.

I remember WTIC used to be very good about backtiming to the time
signal, but as more and more of the day was automated rather than
live, they stopped bothering and let their top-hour stager step on the
tones, just as it has at WBZ in the last decade or two.  Obviously if
you're taking live sports there's no choice, but if you're just
playing pre-recorded crap out of a server, it's entirely possible to
be off by seconds, and management probably doesn't care enough to
invest expensive staff time in the process, particularly if that's an
ongoing expense (e.g., taking more care about precise spot timing in
the top-hour break) rather than something that can be automated.


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