Saturday 24 February 2018

Derek Mooney's Dawn Chorus may be ousting God Save the Queen from BBC Radio 4

Derek Mooney
Derek Mooney
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The Mooney Goes Wild Dawn Chorus may be ousting God Save the Queen from the airwaves on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday night.

The international chorus will this year see radio stations across the globe from India to Ireland broadcasting birdsong - as it rises with the sunlight - from midnight to 6am.

And for the first year BBC Radio 4 has come on board to broadcast and participate in the event, joining RTE on air at 1am and wrapping up at 7am.

However, BBC Radio 4 usually closes down every night following the midnight news and weather bulletins and as it closes down it plays the national anthem before switching to the BBC World Service.

According to Derek Mooney, since the station is facilitating the Dawn Chorus and not closing down, the National Anthem will not be played.

"I had a production meeting with BBC producers last week and I was explaining how the night would work and I asked them, 'What are you going to do about the National Anthem?'" he told

"They said, 'It looks like we're going to have to pull it because we're technically not going off air.'  I said, 'Oh, that's going to cause a problem for you.'  They said it possibly would but a final decision had not been made at that stage.

"In the grand scheme of things it's not the end of the world, but it is an issue for them.  They have very loyal listeners and they're very traditional.  They like things to be as they are.  I just think it's funny that the birds are potentially knocking the national anthem off the airwaves!

"It's possibly the first time in the history of the reign of Queen Elizabeth that the national anthem will not be played on Radio 4."

RTE Radio 1 will be hosting the Dawn Chorus for the 22nd year on Sunday night from midnight for a six hour marathon.

As well as BBC Radio 4, stations in Norway, the Netherlands, Russia and across India have come on board.

In Ireland it is hoped that the elusive call of the Corncrake can be captured at locations in Donegal, which will be "The first time in the history of RTE radio that you will hear a corncrake singing live."

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