|RADIO FORTH IN 1980
"The introduction of Independent Local Radio in the UK must surely be
the biggest single media innovation and success story of the decade. It
is the most exciting and immediate of the mass media and, of course,
the most accessible.
A MESSAGE FROM RADIO
CHAIRMAN L. M. HARPER GOW:
Being Chairman of a local broadcasting organisation is a great
privilege offered to few people. It is also a great responsibility.
Being Chairman of Radio Forth is much more than these. By its very
nature the station is closely intertwined with the community it serves
in a highly personalised and intimate relationship. As an entirely
self-supporting enterprise this close contact between broadcaster and
listener is crucial because the strands that link them represent the
very arteries of the radio station. Cut or block them and the station
in its remoteness becomes dry and withered, eventually and inevitably
fading into insignificance.
Over the few years that Radio Forth has been broadcasting in East
Central Scotland our audience has grown and our station has increased
part of local life now that it is
difficult to imagine a time when it did not exist. 'Forth Country' is
an expression that rolls freely from the lips of hundreds of thousands
of people and is perhaps an indication of the warmth and friendship
that has developed between the audience and the station.
The success of Radio Forth operating as it does in one of the most
difficult geographical areas of the country and during a period of
great economic uncertainty reflects the tremendous talent, enthusiasm
and dedication so ably demonstrated day after day by our staff and
those who contribute to the station's output on a part-time basis. To
all of them I offer my sincere congratulations. Many of their
achievements have been recognised and can be seen in a rapidly
overflowing awards cabinet in the station but their greatest
achievement is the friendship, help, comfort, information and sheer
enjoyment they give every day of the year to so many people."
Mr L M HarperGow, M.B.E.
Radio Forth Chairman
Radio Forth Chairman
The Radio Forth Board Of Directors
"In 1920 the Marconi company made the first experimental speech
broadcast from Chelmsford and in 1922 that very same company opened
Britain's first radio station in Writtle, Essex. The station was local
and, of course, privately owned. It was allowed to broadcast for a mere
half an, hour a week and then only 15 minutes of music with 2 minutes
of silence between selections.
A MESSAGE FROM
FORTH's M.D. RICHARD FINDLAY
I mention this because these early pioneers had a great deal in common
with today's Independent Local Radio stations; we. too are privately
owned, we too are local, we too are restricted as regards the amount of
disc music we are able to broadcast. In those early days a major debate
raged on the usefulness, or otherwise, of this newfangled service. The
music sheet publishers were delighted, indeed so much so that they took
out magazine and newspaper advertisements suggesting that people write
to their local radio station asking them to play the publishers' latest
selection of fox trots and ballads.
Others were less than sure. In November, 1923 a certain F.W. Lloyd
"Does listening permit health in children and make them free from many
of the little complaints from which they suffer? Is it due to the fact
that they have found a new interest, or is it that the ether waves are
bringing some new and unknown force which has action on mind and matter
with the little ones?"
50 odd years on, these comments may appear amusing to us but 1 dare say
that in another 50 years some of the comments that greeted the
introduction of Independent Local Radio will seem equally amusing to
our children and grandchildren.
Radio Forth was born at 6.00 a.m. on 22nd January, 1975. When 1 look
back to that cold dark morning it still seems incredible that we
managed to meet the deadline we had set ourselves. Builders and
decorators were still at work, a 'c burst water main had flooded the
new studio complex only days before, a ceiling had collapsed and
engineers were working around the clock installing the new equipment.
But we made it and when Radio Forth was heard for the very first time
it was through the ingenuity of our Chief Engineer who, at the last
minute, had discovered a cable break and was holding the two parts
firmly together in his hands while mouthing a prayer as the clock
struck six. All the trials and tribulations we had suffered over the
months of hectic activity were more than amply rewarded, the response
from listeners was immediate and overwhelming. The telephone
switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree and throughout the day
telegrams and cards poured into the station. Radio Forth had arrived
and Forth Country welcomed the new baby with open arms.
company, is privately
owned and is entirely reliant on advertising revenue for its
livelihood, it receives no public funds whatsoever. It was formed by
individuals representing a wide spread of community interests and
activities and is controlled by a board of similar complexion. The
Independent Broadcasting Authority, the body responsible for granting
the franchise, lays down strict and rigorous checks and controls on
commercial and programme content for the station, thus ensuring balance
and objectivity in all areas. These controls are regularly reassessed
and updated as required. With a relatively small staff of 53 people
spread across Programming, News, Engineering, Sales and Administration
we rely heavily on other members of the community with specialist
knowledge and interests to make a contribution to our output and here
we have been very lucky indeed.
Broadcasting in Britain is currently undergoing a fundamental change.
We are proud to be playing a constructive and pioneering role in this
and will strive to continue to be a source of new ideas and innovative
Forth Country will, if it has not already done so, become the social
and Economic heart of Scotland. The boom has switched from west to
east. Oil, new technology, money, investment, skill, a social core and,
above all, people, have created the optimism that has slotted East
Central Scotland into the right place at the right time. Radio Forth's
success in programming has come about because it has captured and
reflected this new emerging spirit of the community: the foundation of
Radio Forth's programme policy.
The station's friendly and bouncy style starts with a bright 'Good
Morning and continues from five in the morning through the daylight
hours to early evening when the station spins strands of more
identifiable programmes to reflect the growing, selective needs of the
local audience. As the evening progresses, the programmes sharpen their
style to meet Specific needs.
Graham Warman rehearses with
Siffre prior to a recording.
Format'. It's what most of
our listeners enjoy They identify closely with presenters like Mike
Scott, Bobby Malcolm, Brian Ford, Bill Torrance, jay Crawford, Chris
John, Steve Jack and Ken Haynes. They are local personalities and are
in great demand, adding a touch of glamour to local events and
functions. They present popular music in an entertaining and friendly
way as well as helping to keep our listeners informed of the day-to-day
activity of what's going on in their patch.
They host a bundle of features including popular competitions, drama,
travel news, what's on information, reviews, community news, recipes,
lost pets, news on the hour, and, above all, allow listeners to share
in the joy of talking about the little and big things, the serious and
not so serious things and the sad and happy things that make up the way
of life of all of us who live and work in Forth Country.
Nothing is dull on Radio Forth. The approach is to make every topic
interesting, entertaining and popular so that everyone can feet that
Radio Forth programmes are in tune with their own ideas and thoughts.
Programmes in the evening reflect the wide specific interests of the
community such as politics, leisure activity, education, the arts,
current affairs, celebrity interviews, new and old music with folk,
new-wave, traditional Scottish music, big bands, jazz, crossover,
progressive rock, vintage rock'n roll, the music of the twenties,
thirties and forties, classical, country and western, middle of the
road and disco.
The established view of access programmes is irrelevant on Radio
Forth because of the existing demands placed on staff to secure the
trust of the community in sharing the whole process of making better
programmes. The reason is both economic and the belief in the long term
policy of creating a sense of trust between the community as a whole
and the radio station. This sense of trust also grows from the simple
fact that Radio Forth exists because of the needs of the audience, how
could it be otherwise?
during the daylight hours, they
also have weekly habits in the evening. Our evening programmes, outwith
the daily popular format, tend to reflect this through specialised
programming on identifiable weeknights. Scheduling also takes into
account what the majority of people tend to be doing. For example, our
specialist programmes early in the week tend to match the interests of
the young, whereas at the end of the week they tend to identify more
with the not so young.
The programming staff is small in comparison with other radio services,
and this encourages the station to tap the enthusiasm and knowledge of
our audience, through local organisations, local authorities, local
companies, local groups and local individuals to provide the depth of
information and background, to make the content of our programmes more
appealing and interesting.
John Sheddon and Gwyneth Gutherie
the drama serial
'Mary Queen of Scots".
This sense of trust, and responsibility is built into the framework of
the programming department and the job that each member of staff has to
perform. The Record Library staffed by Jan Henderson and Susan Tait;
The Arts and Features side supervised by Diane Millar; The Programme
Coordinator, Sandy Wilkie, responsible for live music and the
day-to-day activity of the output; The Music Organiser, Tom Bell,
responsible for the selection of music heard on the station; Saudi
White, who looks after the community information and popular format
features., Hazel Fowlie, who specialises in the social and religious
aspects of the output, and Jill Anderson who handles the administrative
Those names represent the back-up. That's all. They are the liaison
points with the community and the many voices that are heard on air who
have been drawn from that community. Names like Dr. Eamon Hyde, who
chairs a local history programme, Charles Mercer, who presents
classical music, entertainer Bill Barclay, Dick Barrie our Country
& Western presenter, Clarke Tait, who hosts the popular Sunday
phone-in, Father Andrew Monaghan, producer along with Hazel of so many
award winning religious programmes, Maeve Robertson on consumer
affairs, Trevor Davies on politics, Donald Ford on sport and lain Agnew
on Folk Music. Just a handful of the local names who are now local
personalities within their own specialised field of programmes on Radio
Forth. And they are all home grown. All members of the rich community
that is Forth Country.
In the past five years, Radio Forth has established itself in many
fields. 'Snowline' is a classic example. Others include special
campaigns to find youngsters jobs, to promote the caring attitude of
youngsters, to criticise and applaud bureaucracy when required, to
focus debate on major local issues, to find Foster Parents, and to shed
light on the complicated, and explore the facade of the simple.
Radio Forth's first five years in programming terms was to establish a
rapport with the community Its function over the next five years is to
preserve that rapport while achieving an even greater voice for the
Seven days a week, fiftytwo weeks a year, we tell our listeners what is
happening on their doorstep, down the street, in their area, throughout
Scotland, the rest of Britain and the world.
FORTH - DOING IT ALL FOR YOU
So how do we do it? Let us look at a typical day in the life of Radio
Forth News. When most of our listeners are still sound asleep our news
team is already at work preparing for the early morning bulletins.,
There is local News, Scottish News and our service from Independent
Radio News. A schedule is drawn up. What is happening? What is going to
happen? What are the main stories? What questions do they pose? How do
we find the answers?
Bill Torrance on
air from studio B.
The day rolls on and news constantly comes to our attention. Each
story is checked and assessed and with each one we ask the question....
Will this be of interest to our listeners?
We are constantly aware of the special needs of our transmission area.
Local News is our lifeblood. A fire in Fife is a big story to us. So is
an accident in Edinburgh, a council decision in Falkirk, redundancies
in Dundee and a serious crime in Haddington.
Each one is given just as much attention and care as a Prime Minister's
statement or the state of the world oil markets. In Edinburgh we bear a
heavy responsibility to our national news interests. The Scottish
Office is constantly making decisions which affect the daily lives of
every Scot. Edinburgh is a financial centre and also a leader in the
field of arts. There are five universities in our transmission area.
That represents a large student population and they all have parents
and relatives wanting to know what is going on. Edinburgh is a
centre of law with the Court of Session and the High Court, and the oil
industry is at our front door.
So how do we cope? Well, without banging our own drum too much, the
answer is very well thank you.
Let us look at a few examples. It was Radio
Forth who broke the news to
the world of Jeremy Thorpe's resignation as leader of the Liberals....
We were first with the momentous result of Scotland's decision on
devolution.... We ran a comprehensive service on the day of Lord
Mountbatten's assassination.... We triumphed with our reporting of the
recent Tay Rail Disaster.... But while it is nice to get the big ones
right we pay just as much attention to the little stories. It is what
Local News is afl about. And we not only cover news as such, but our
sports coverage needs to be equally comprehensive. Remember the 1978
World Cup finals in Argentina. If you are a Scot then you most
certainly cannot no matter how hard you try.
It was Radio Forth
who covered the events for the rest of Britain's
Independent Radio Stations. Our man on the spot filing direct round the
clock from Argentina. More recently we dispatched a reporter to Belgium
to cover Scotland's European Championship match against Belgium.
But, once again
while we cover the big stories the local sports news is
just as important, junior Soccer, Badminton, Boxing, Squash and Darts.
If there is anything going on we want to know about it. Seven days a
week, fifty-two weeks a year is a lot of reporting.
Right: Early morning man Mike Scott with
Above - Radio Forth
Presenters in 1983:
Dick Barrie; Tom Bell; Jay
Crawford; Graham Jackson;
Bobby Malcolm; Dave Stewart;
Mike Scott and Steve Jack.
Photographs from 1983 with thanks
to Julian Watson who notes: "Both Graham Jackson and Bobby Malcolm
still broadcast on Forth 2 (1548 AM) now. Graham continues with his
programme 'Transistor Boogie' on Saturday nights, and Bobby can be
heard in the mornings." [February 2011]
The majority of Radio
Forth revenue comes from the sale of advertising time. This revenue is
split almost equally between local advertising and national
advertising. In the local sales team, there are six sales executives,
each of them covering either a specific category or a specific
territory. One sales person works exclusively on major accounts in
Glasgow for example, while another covers Edinburgh and part of Fife.
After five years of broadcast lng, there are now virtually no major
advertisers in Scotland who are not advertising on radio. The National
advertising, i.e., emanating in most cases, from London, is handled by
a separate sales company called Broadcasting Marketing Services, who,
also sell for six other radio stations, but under the direct control of
the individual stations.
Two very important backup departments for the sales team, are Traffic
and Commercial Production. The job of Traffic is to process the
advertising from the time that an order is taken until the time that it
appears on air. With 21 hours of broadcasting each day and a maximum of
nine minutes of advertising in any one hour, there could be over 350
advertisements in a heavily booked period. Each one has to be noted on
an advertising log and given an individual number, and it is from this
log that the on-air presenter knows which advertisement to play, and at
what times to play them.
The Commercial Production department consists of two people who are
there to help prospective clients with the ' copy" for their
advertising. In a typical month, between 80 and 100 different
advertisements could be written and produced in Radio Forth's own
studios. These advertisements range from major department stores,
garages and furniture retailers to small boutiques and shops, but each
one receives the same individual attention and approach.
All radio advertising is subject to controls and standards laid down by
the Independent Broadcasting Authority and there are certain categories
of advertising which are not acceptable, as well as restrictions on the
way advertisements can be phrased. In this way, we avoid offending
listeners as well as making what might be construed as a misleading
Radio Forth revenue, has.
shown a steady growth over the five years of broadcasting. In the
financial year ended September, 1975, the figure was less than
£250,000 in the financial year ending 1979, the growth was more
than four times that figure -in excess of £1,000,000. With this
sort of confidence in Radio Forth as an advertising medium, the future
success of broadcasting in East Central Scotland is assured.
There are many different ways in which radio listenership can be
researched and each will find a strong advocate. We have never
considered that the random stopping of people in the street used in
isolation can give a true picture of listening habits and preferences.
The flaws in this method are too obvious and numerous to mention.
The Independent Local Radio stations are researched by an entirely
separate research organisation to a methology and series of rigid
specifications laid down by an independent research committee on which
both advertisers and
advertising agencies hold the majority of seats. Since it is unlikely
that advertisers would be willing to pay more than a station can
realistically charge in light of the listenership that it has it would
seem reasonable to suppose that the way in which the research is
conducted is more likely to give a true picture of radio listening and
Put very simply the research organisation selects a large sample of
people in a balanced way in order that the sample is a total match of
the demographic profile of the area being researched, age group, sex
and so on. Each person is then issued with a diary listing all
available radio services and it is in this specially designed diary
that they list their radio listening over a set period. After the diary
period has been completed, interviewers follow up each person with a
questionnaire again listing all radio services. These results are
processed by the research
organisations computer and the results then made available for
The latest available research shows the following picture in Forth
Country. In the city of Edinburgh 62% of the population over the age of
fifteen listen to Radio Forth on a regular basis. Spreading the net
wider to include what we call our Primary Transmission Area the
listenership becomes 55%, if we then go further to include the Total
Transmission Area (this stretches north to Dundee and South into the
Borders) the listening becomes 45%. ,
The chart below reflects the listenership, penetration that each radio
service achieves in the Primary Transmission Area, which stretches from
the city of Edinburgh and North to Glenrothes, West to Falkirk and
Grangemouth and South to Dunbar and Penicuik.
Audience Research Results For West Central Scotland
The Radio Forth
The station has a modem studio complex situated in the heart of
Edinburgh and linked to its transmitters in Fife by landline The entire
studio area was designed and installed by the station's own engineers,
while the required acoustics were put into the able hands of an
internationally renowned firm of acoustic architects.
looking into the
|Self operating studio presentation suite
|Control room looking into main on air
There are four main studios, each designed for a specific function but
flexible enough for a varied number of very different operations. The
presenter's main on air' studio is self operating, that is the person
you hear on air is also the person operating every necessary piece of
equipment and the person who makes sure the commercials are broadcast
in the correct sequence at the correct time. There is a smaller self
operating studio, very similar in design to the main one, a large
production studio with its own control room containing much more
sophisticated equipment than the self operating studios and a news
studio, which again is totally controlled and operated by the
newsreader. This form of studio design and operation means that the
station is able to operate with fewer staff than many other
broadcasting organisations but it also means that our staff require
All studios are routed through the station's Master Control Room, this
is the technical nerve centre of the station and houses all the complex
equipment necessary to keep the station on air. Some eight miles of
balanced audio cabling has been used to wire this complex together into
a cohesive unit. In addition to the studios within Forth House the
station has several 'remote' studios throughout the area and these can
be brought on air at the flick of a switch. A brand new and highly
sophisticated 23-feet-long outside broadcast and recording unit has
recently been tailormade for the station to replace our older one and
of course there's the highly mobile radio car, capable of dashing
quickly to parts of our transmission ion area and breaking live
into the broadcasting output via its own transmitting aerial.
Among major items of equipment the station uses Alice and Pye mixers,
Cuemaster cartridge machines, Leevers Rich tape recorders and Technics
turntables. As already mentioned our transmitters are in South Fife,
the medium wave (AM) transmitter being situated at Barns Farm with a
power of 2000 watts on 1548 Khz (194 metres) and the VHF (FM)
transmitter is just north of Burntisland with a power of 500 watts on
96.8 MHz. The VHF transmissions are of course High Fidelity and in
RADIO FORTH BRINGS THE FIRST SPLIT FREQUENCY PROGRAMMING TO ILR IN THE
|Radio Forth was one of the first ILR
stations in the UK to offer separate programmes on its VHF/FM and
Medium Wave / AM transmitters.
Radio' was the name of this pioneering service which was on air in
1985, and you can read more HERE
When split frequency broadcasting became the norm around 1989 - 1990,
Radio Forth split its services full time; A re-focussed 'Radio Forth
RFM' was on 97.3 and 97.6 VHF/FM, while a completely new service
entitled 'MAX AM' launched on 1548 kHz (194m) Medium Wave / AM.
RADIO FORTH INFORMATION
Chairman - L. M. Harper Gow, M.B.E.
Managing Director - Richard
Programme Controller -Tom Steele
News Editor - Bill Greig
Chief Engineer - lan Wales
Sales Director - Derek Gorman
Financial Director - Alan Wilson
Forth Beat Community Information - Judi White
Outside Broadcast & Programme Co-ordinator - Sandy Wilkie
Arts & Special Features - Diane Miller
Music Organiser - Tom Bell
Librarian - Jan Henderson
Commercial Production - Rod Jones
Promotions & Publicity - Joan Connell
Religion, Leisure & Community Programmes - Hazel Fowlie
Traffic Supervisor - Tricia Smith
Radio Forth Limited, P.O. Box 194, Edinburgh EH1 3LF
Telephone 031 - 556 - 9255 Telex 727374
Hours of Broadcast: Monday to Friday 05.00 - 02.00
Saturday/Sunday 06.00 - 02.00
The Power of Radio Forth's Soundwaves!
comments: Hi Mike, I found your website with its very interesting
articles on Radio Forth and I wonder if you or anyone you're in touch
with might know anything more about this ribald news story from 1977.
Well, it has to be admitted the Benny Hill Show was big in 1977 and this
seems to be Radio Forth cashing in! I wonder who the girl in the
picture is, Caroline Gold perhaps? Was she a model or did she work for
Radio Forth? - Robert. (If you know anything more, please let us know. Mike.)
Radio Forth Roadshow stunt!
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