Great Lives – Ludwig Koch | BBC Radio 4 29th August 2023

Musician and sound recordist Chris Watson nominates his hero, the broadcaster, ornithologist and first person ever to record birdsong, Ludwig Koch

Episode page

The award-winning Sound Recordist and Musician, Chris Watson nominates his hero, Ludwig Koch. In 1889, German-born Koch was the first person ever to record birdsong (at the age of 8) onto a wax cylinder recorder, given to him by his father as a toy. Despite a promising baritone voice and being a very good violinist, the first world war put paid to Ludwig Koch’s career as a musician and he began working for the German branch of EMI recording cityscapes, before going on to invent the ‘sound book’, a nascent sort of multimedia that became very popular in Germany before the second world war. As a Jew and an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, Koch fled Germany in 1936 for England, sadly leaving his many recordings behind. But his theatrical delivery, unique voice and the fact that, as Chris Watson notes, “He was not shy about his achievements”, soon made him a household name in broadcasting here in the UK. Chris Watson is joined by emeritus professor Sean Street. Together and with the aid of archive, they marvel over the great lengths Koch went to to capture his ‘performers’.

Produced in Bristol by Ellie Richold

Land Body Ecologies | 22nd June 2022

Pioneer study on solastalgia employs sound as a research tool and launches podcast for listening to the landscape along with its stories.

Each podcast episode by Land Body Ecologies tells an intimate true story from a local community across the globe to highlight how ecosystem health and mental health are interconnected.

The first of five stand-alone episodes will tell the story of Finland’s longest river, and two sisters’ journey as they reflect on how the damming of the river shaped their lives.

Land Body Ecologies Podcast
Episode I: The Free River
Release date: 22 June 2022
Available online on, as well as on Spotify, Google Podcast and Apple Podcast.

Press Release_Podcast Launch_Land Body Ecologies_1 June 2022

IN THE STUDIO – Green Planet | Tue 15th Feb 2022

We join wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson and go behind the scenes of THE GREEN PLANET; a hugely ambitious recent BBC Natural History Television series presented by David Attenborough which offers a plant’s perspective of the world. We discover how Chris uses the latest technology to capture the sounds produced by plants as well as the sound world inside and around them.  Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

BBC World Service – In the Studio

THE COMPASS – It’s a Bird’s World | Wed 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th Feb 2022

Our relationship with birds has developed in ways we could never have imagined. As living barometers of the health of the planet, they are invaluable in alerting us to environmental changes. Passionate young bird watcher and environmentalist Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl) presents compelling global stories and expert insights to reveal how birds can guide and alert us to four major environmental changes; climate change, toxic substances, disease and noise pollution. Presenter  Mya-Rose Craig, Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

BBC World Service – The Compass

BBC Radio 3, The Essay – Sounds of Isolation | Mon – Fri , 2245 1-5th November 2021

For many of us, isolation is disconcerting and challenging but for wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, it is something he actively seeks, so he can fully immerse himself in a place and capture its unique sounds in his recordings. In this series, Chris recalls five extraordinary quests to locations around the world in search of isolation and wild sounds. Producer Sarah Blunt

Music Matters BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3
Saturday 30th January, 11:45am| Monday 1st February, 10:00pm

Kate Molleson talks to Scottish writer and poet Jackie Kay about the extraordinary life of the pioneering blues singer Bessie Smith, and asks what Bessie’s blues can tell us a century on.

Kate also hears from American composer Meredith Monk about the recurring nature of the big themes of her work, from plagues to dictatorships, and we hear about the piece she’s currently working on, Indra’s Net – 10 years in the making and a work dedicated to humanity’s relationship with nature.

Plus, as part of the BBC’s ‘Soundscapes for Wellbeing’ project, we look at how natural and musical soundscapes can affect mental health, including a groundbreaking study by the University of Exeter called ‘The Virtual Nature Experiment’, which explores how digital experiences of nature might impact wellbeing. Kate is joined by Alex Smalley from the University of Exeter, the sound recordist Chris Watson, and composer Nainita Desai.

Producer: Matthew Dover

Drama On One RTÉ Radio 1 | 8pm Sunday 4th October 2020 


From Ross Island to Galapagos to the mythical isle of HyBrasil and beyond, world renowned sound recordist Chris Watson teams up with Writer/Presenter Luke Clancy, Composer Irene Buckley and Actor Kathy Rose O’Brien to journey across an atlas of remote islands.

Islands fuses documentary and drama to make a journey not usually possible – especially in these days of the pandemic – as Chris and Luke imagine stepping across the frozen lava at Ross island, Antarctica; taking in the rarefied atmosphere of the Alcedo volcano on the Galapagos islands and listening to an incredible symphony of Bearded Seals under the ice at Svalbard, Norway.  The programme merges chronicles of island life by Luke, with Chris’s stunning archive of natural history, accompanied by a haunting soundtrack created by Composer Irene Buckley.

The programme draws on live performances by the team at Skibbereen Arts Festival (2020) and at the International Features Conference hosted by RTÉ Documentary On One (2020).

Islands was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.

Writer: Luke Clancy
Actor: Kathy Rose O’Brien
Sound Recording and Sound Design: Chris Watson
Sound Supervision: Ruth Kennington
Composer: Irene Buckley
Producer: Kevin Brew
Series Producer: Kevin Reynolds
Group Head Drama & Comedy: Shane Murphy

Costing the Earth: Silencing with Noise, BBC Radio 4 | 5th May 2020

On land and underwater, animals use sound to communicate. This is against a rising tide of man-made noise. What happens if you can’t hear or be heard? Can anything be done?

Private Passions, BBC Radio 3 | 12th April 2020

Wildlife sound recordist and sound artist Chris Watson talks to Michael Berkeley about how his favourite music is inspired by the natural world.

The Field Recording Show #3 – Kate Carr with Chris Watson

Tree’s a Crowd; Chris Watson Podcasts with David Oakes

Part One: The winds catching the conifers – and the secrets of the dawn chorus, Aug 26 2019. Chris Watson, president of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society, joins David Oakes in this episode of Trees A Crowd

Part Two: If a podcast is recorded in a forest, and no one is around to hear it… Sept 9 2019. Chris Watson, president of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society, joins David Oakes in this episode of Trees A Crowd


Between the Ears: The Signal-Man, BBC Radio 3 | 30th June 2019

A signalman on a remote stretch of East Yorkshire railway is visited by a lone traveller in this drama-documentary written by poet Ross Sutherland. Inspired by a Charles Dickens ghost story, and featuring nature recordings by renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson.

The Oxmardyke Gate Box is one of the last in the UK to use antiquated mechanical bells to carry semaphore-style messages up and down the line. Soon this system of “absolute block signalling” will pass into history, as computers take over. The bells, like the humans who listen for them, will no longer be needed.

In this feature fusing fact and fiction, the poet Ross Sutherland visits Oxmardyke to meet Dave Beckett, one of the last operators to use the bells. From their elevated position, the pair gaze out over the hinterland near the muddy Humber estuary. It’s an area of villages with Anglo-Saxon names: Gilberdyke, Broomfleet and Saxfleet, with remains of the monastery where the Knights Templar would return after international travel. The flat, reclaimed land has an eerie quality, accentuated by a strange local phenomenon known as a temperature inversion (where high density cold air becomes trapped by warm wetter air) causing sound to carry further, meaning passing trains loom larger and echo further than they ordinarily would.

Writer: Ross Sutherland
Contributor: Dave Beckett
Producers: Jack Howson and Joby Waldman
Sound Design: Chris Watson and Steve Bond

A Reduced Listening Production for BBC Radio 3

Oceans of Noise: Science Weekly podcast

Wildlife recordist Chris Watson begins a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise pollution

A Sense of Time, BBC Radio 4 | 2nd April 2019

Does a second feel the same for a fly, a bird, or a swordfish, as it does for me? Geoff Marsh drills into the science of time perception within and between species.

SLOW RADIO – Midnight at the Oasis BBC Radio 3 | Thursday 6 December 2018

 24.00 – 00.30  

Sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape from dawn to dusk in the Kalahari Desert in south western Africa. As the light fades, you can see very little but hear everything; from the close up sounds of insects to the far-carrying contact calls of spotted hyenas.  Producer Sarah Blunt.

The Changing Sound of Radio BBC Radio 4e | Saturday 13th October 2018

Made for 4 Extra. Wildlife recordist Chris Watson examines some of the ways technology has changed the radio we listen to, from early experiments in sound to the podcast explosion.

BBC Radio Summer 2018


BBC Radio 4  New series begins 10th July 2018  for 12 weeks

Broadcast Tuesdays 1102 and repeated on Mondays at 2102

PIKE  – 10th July 2018.  Brett Westwood journeys into dangerous waters to explore our relationship with the fearsome and predatory Pike. Wildlife sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt

NARWHAL – 14th August 2018.  Brett Westwood explores our relationship with an Arctic Legend, the Narwhal. This Unicorn of the Sea is not only extraordinary in appearance, but tantalising difficult to study! Additional sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt

SHORT WORKS – As I Walked Out One Morning in May

BBC Radio 4   Fri 27th July 1545, rpt Sun 30 July 0030

Death meets the Lady in this short ghostly story written and narrated by Paul Evans which is inspired by a 19th Century ballad, local folklore and the sounds of a woodland. The singer is Elizabeth Counsell. Sound Recordings Chris Watson. Produced by Sarah Blunt.

THE COMPASS – Living with Nature

BBC World Service

The world as you’ve never heard it before. Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a guide to the sounds of four very different global habitats; the Plains, Desert, Mountain and Forest and explores the relationship between these soundscapes in Kenya, Namibia, Norway and India, the wildlife and the local people.   Producer Sarah Blunt

25th July – Plains
1st August – Desert
8th August – Mountain
15th Aug – Forest

Chris Watson on Sound Mind | 5th April 2018

Graham Duff interviews Chris Watson, about his groundbreaking work with the experimental music groups Cabaret Voltaire and The Hafler Trio, his career as one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife recordists, his albums of field recordings released on the Touch label and his new site specific sound installation ‘No Man’s Land’. Contains extensive examples of both Watson’s music and field recordings. Headphone listening recommended throughout.

A River of Steel | BBC Radio 4 1st & 7th May 2018

There’s another chance to hear A River of Steel which was first broadcast in 2016, on BBC Radio 4 on Tue 1 May at 11.02am and Monday 7 May at 21:02.

Chris Watson returns to Sheffield, the city of his birth to follow the course of its rivers across landscape and time in a tale of industrial development, little mesters and steel blades. Producer Sarah Blunt.

Chris Watson on ABC Radio | RN ‘Conversations’

You can listen to Chris’s hour-long podcast on ABC here: