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Station to station
In the second article about developments in the Scottish media. Alan Morrison charts the battle for the nation‘s airwaves following the merger of Radios Clyde and Forth. On the following pages. : The List picks up on Radio : 5‘s secret audience. the bumps and grinds ofthe sound archive and the I highs and lows ofpersonal
Last year. the Scottish radio listener was treated to an unprecedented increase in the number of new
Stations available at the turn of a
doubledtheiroutputby targeting different audiences on their MW and
been offered for local stations in I. Scotland — at Shetland.
capital. it had lost its senior members i
dial. InhabitantsofStirling. Easterhouse and West l.othian experienced the personal touch of local. community—based stations. while Radios Forth and (‘lyde
was bailed out by Radio l-‘ortb and relaunched as the notably more
commercial (‘entral I’M late last year. East lind Radio has struggled
through bravely. with help from
local area development funding.
Radio West l.othian. shackled with a
MW licence and the extra expense
FM wavebands. and the BB(‘ found a home for sport. education and the l World Service with the launch of national network. Radio 5.
Already. five other franchises have
l’itlochry Abcrfeldy. l’aisley. Kirkcaldy. and lnverurie — and it is reckoned that the country could have around 41) local stations before the end ofthe century.
However. the track record of the first three stations is not. from a financial point of view. particularly encouraging. (‘entresound at Stirling was the first to go on air. in June 1990. but because of internal wrangles and problems with raising
this incurs. decided to hand back its franchise rather than be taken over by Radio Clyde.
ofstaff by November. The project to John Gray. chair of the Scottish
ON FOLLOWING PAGES: SOUND EFFECTS 0 PERSONAL AUDIO O RADIOSOAP OPERA
The root ofthe problem. according |
(‘ommunity Broadcast ( iroup. lies with the nature of the licences being offered first by the IBA and now by the new Radio Authority. ‘ln hindsightf he admits. ‘it would probably have been better for no community-based organisation to hay e applied for an incremental licence. lt forced them to be much too large-scale and much too commercial. the basis of a community station is to serve an identifiable area. and be controlled by people within that area. and that on the board there should be at least some distinctive representation of the volunteer associations and the workers at the station.‘
While the current advertising recession is hitting commercial broadcasting in all its forms. radio seems to have been bit harder and faster than most. and financial problems are not unique to Scottish community stations. In London. Jazz FM celebrated its first birthday in March in dubious style with a
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relaunch. 'l'lie maiority of the criticism levelled at the station concerned the problem of targeting the right audience .lau li’yl had narrowed its musical range to suit the jazz purists. and so the new schedules fall back on familiar names and standards. restricting modern and progressiy e styles to after lllpm. Roll/Hf .Ilttlrtrg/i/ is more likely to appear ’rot'nd noon.
.-\s a reaction to the ady ent of new stations. BBC Radio Scotland shook the dust from its programme schedules in April thl. A report issued by the commercial radio industry claimed that Radio Scotland had suffered an audience drop from lb per cent to 14 per cent. and the BB("s ow n market research figures showed that the ay erage Scottish listenertuned into independent radio for 12." hours a week compared to Radio Scotland‘s (H) hours. l‘he dailyprogramming remained speecli-lmsed. bat relied more on ‘presenter personality".