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"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.

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 in stature.

Indeed, the station is such an integral 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
Mr L M HarperGow, M.B.E.
Radio Forth Chairman

Radio Forth Board
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.

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 wrote:

"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.

The station operates as a totally independent 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 radio."

Richard Findlay
Managing Director
Richard Findlay
Richard Findlay
Managing Director


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.

Labi Siffre
Senior engineer, Graham Warman rehearses with
 Labi Siffre prior to a recording.

Daytime listening is known as the 'Popular 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.

As people tend to have daily habits 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 recording
the drama serial 'Mary Queen of Scots".

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?

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 side.

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 community.

Radio Dial

Audio:  Listen to a  short mp3 audio clip of Radio Forth - 194 - Close To You - from 1981/2

Audio:  It's quite interesting that RADIO FORTH had a CB Radio show in 1983 called Breaker Breaker Music Maker

Here are a few more short audio clips kindly submitted by Julian Watson which include: A clip of Brian Ford from his Forth programme in July 1980 (note that Secret Affair were doing the mod revival thing in 1980); Bob Malcolm on Forth in July 1981 with the ski special (note the number of stations on the air north of the border at that time); Brian Ford again in July 1982 with a special message for sailors and small craft; 1982 - The birth of a Royal baby..now soon to become a husband! End supplied by Denis Norden:


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.

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?

Studio B
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.

Early morning man Mike Scott with
traffic girl Geraldine Eardley.

Breakfast Show


The Radio Forth Roadshow

Radio Forth's Jay Crawford
with B A Robertson

The Radio Forth float at the Edinburgh Festival

Radio Forth's Bill Torrance with:
Top: Frank Muir
Middle: The Drifters
Bottom: Cliff Richard

Radio Forth's Clark Tait talks to Ian Carmichael

Joanna Lumley Visits Forth House

Managing Director Richard Findlay and
Jay Crawford and Elton John

Radio Forth's Bobby Malcolm with
Patti Boulaye

Tom Bell with Cilla Black and Iain Agnew

Radio Forth Presenters in 1983:

Dick Barrie - Radio Forth 1983

Tom Bell - Radio Forth 1983
Jay Crawford - Radio Forth 1983

Graham Jackson - Radio Forth 1983
Bobby Malcolm - Radio Forth 1983

Dave Stewart - Radio Forth 1983

Mike Scott - Radio Forth 1983

Steve Jack - Radio Forth 1983

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 claim.

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 preference.
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 publication.

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 Transmission Area

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.

Control room looking into the
main production studio

Self operating studio presentation suite
Control room looking into main on air presentation studio

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 extra skills.

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 Stereo.


Festival City Radio
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.

'Festival City 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.


(In 1980)

    Chairman - L. M. Harper Gow, M.B.E.
        Managing Director - Richard Findlay
        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!

Robert 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 - Soundwaves!
Radio Forth Roadshow stunt!

RADIO FORTH - Page 2 >

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