For Science, Broadcasting, and Conservation: Wildlife Recording, the BBC, and the Consolidation of a British Library of Wildlife Sounds

Joeri Bruyninckx*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


After World War II, wildlife recordists and bioacousticians took advantage of advances in electronics and acoustics to collect, store, and analyze recordings of animal vocalizations, leading to the establishment and expansion of numerous wildlife sound archives worldwide. This article traces the technological, organizational, and social arrangements that transformed a private collection of recordings by wildlife recordist Ludwig Koch in the 1930s into one of the largest sound archives of its kind. It argues that this sound archive was consolidated through the collective efforts of a recording community—an unlikely alliance of academic biologists, commercial and amateur hobby recordists, and the public service broadcaster British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), each with a stake in the development, use, and popularization of wildlife recordings. Zooming in on the integration of British naturalists with the BBC, the article shows how, despite scientists' oft-noted suspicion of the media, these parties developed a mutually beneficial association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S188-S215
Number of pages28
JournalTechnology and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • 1950s
  • economies
  • fidelity
  • natural-history
  • 1950S

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