The initial seeds of Celtic Music Radio go back to 2003 when regular Celtic Connections Festival-goer Bob McWilliam realised that this genre of music and the culture of Scotland was not getting the exposure it deserved, how artists were marginalised and how there is a ‘social gain’ need to support emerging new artists and to keep the culture alive.
With the possibility of Community Radio on the horizon, Bob gathered together a team of like-minded individuals to make the project a reality.
Ken Macdonald joined with his background in Scottish culture and treasurer of Glasgow’s Star Folk Club.
Alex Jenkins also joined at this time. Alex was a community worker whom Bob had known since the Paisley Local Radio RSLs in 1990 and 1991. Both Bob and Alex were founders of Paisley based and focused local commercial radio station Q96 which launched on 1st September 1992 on 96.3 FM
The Q96 FM radio station and company was bought over in 1996 by the Independent Radio Group Plc and has had several owners over the years including The Wireless Group, UTV Media and then GMG Radio which closed Q96 and replaced the service with 96.3 Rock Radio and then 96.3 Real XS. The 96.3 FM frequncy is now owned by Global Radio Holdings, based in the east of Glasgow and from April 2014 is now called Xfm.
Mark Sheridan then Head of Department, Creative and Aesthetic Studies, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, enthusiastically embraced the Celtic Music Radio project as did Brian McNeill, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer of international recognition and then Head of Department, Traditional Music & Piping and Performance Studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.
Bruce Rodger then IT Network Manager for the University of Strathclyde joined the Celtic Music Radio team as it was entering the new found accommodation at Livingstone Tower within the city campus of the University of Strathclyde in the summer of 2006. Bruce was appointed Technical & IT Director in August 2008.
The legal entity Celtic Music Radio Limited was registered at Companies House, Edinburgh. The company number SC271561 was registered on 4th August 2004.
Applying for an Ofcom broadcast licence
In the summer of 2004 the group set about preparing for an application for a Community Radio Licence. The application was lodged with the UK communications and broadcasting regulator Ofcom in November 2004 with an unsuccessful decision in June 2005.
Undaunted, the group led by Bob McWilliam, decided to progress by putting into practice elements of the licence proposition using Europe’s biggest winter music festival, Celtic Connections, as a showcase and trial.
An Ofcom RSL (Restricted Service Licence) was arranged to tie-in with the 13th Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow during January 2006 with Celtic Music Radio on 106.6 FM becoming a reality for the very first time with live broadcasts from The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for the 22 days of the festival which included 66 hours of ‘live’ stage performance broadcast.
Pictured left include Gordon Hotchkiss and siting Bill Morris at the first broadcast of Celtic Music Radio during Celtic Connections in January 2006.
A broadcast team was assembled including experienced broadcasters such as Gordon Hotchkiss (formerly of Radio Clyde 261m) and a mix of individuals new to broadcasting, production and presentation including Bill Morris and Liz Clark. Students from the Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism course at Bell College, Hamilton, Lanarkshire (now University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton Campus) and students in HNC Radio Broadcasting and HNC/HND Sound Production from North Glasgow College were called upon to provide an outstanding RSL for the festival event which attracts some 100,000 attendees.
During 2006 the group consolidated its relationship with the University of Strathclyde to bring about a partnership which assists both parties deliver mutual rewards in educational gain and support.
Building the studio base
The group acquired broadcast studio equipment in July 2006 which was formerly used at Lanarkshire local commercial radio station Clan FM/107 The Edge, which closed in November 2005 and subsequently relaunched with a new owner as Lanarkshire’s L107 which itself closed down in November 2010.
The equipment included two Sonifex Sovereign broadcast mixer desks and associated furniture and ancillary equipment.
This made Celtic Music Radio self sufficient for a second RSL which was granted for Celtic Connections 2007.
Following the January 2007 broadcast, Celtic Music Radio was awarded an ‘Awards for All Scotland’ National Lottery grant to enable Myriad Playout PC based radio studio and associated equipment to enable the station to launch an internet streaming audio service.
The ‘Online’ internet service launched on Monday 3 September 2007 to coincide with another Ofcom RSL broadcast for the 8th Scottish International Piano Competition 2007, a festival of piano playing and music from 5-15 September 2007 from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow and The City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow.
Celtic Music Radio broadcast ‘live’ the Opening Recital from the Concert Hall within the RSAMD as well as the Stage 1 and Stage 2 Recitals. These programmes were broadcast online and locally in Glasgow and also via our partner website www.seeglasgow.com
Ofcom Community Radio full-time licence
Celtic Music Radio applied during Round 2 of Ofcom Community Radio licence applications in January 2007 and this time awarded an Ofcom Community Radio Licence on 11 July 2007 to broadcast to Glasgow on 1530 kHz AM on the medium wave band. Ofcom advised in advance that there were no available or suitable FM frequencies available to transmit on around Glasgow, therefore an AM medium wave frequency was offered.
During the summer and autumn of 2007, the station progressed building the new transmission facility. A site on the banks of the River Clyde was chosen for a variety of reasons including security, ground conductivity and earthing for the AM transmitter.
During late November 2007 the aerial system was erected and the Redifon BT 500 mark 2 series transmitter was installed.
The transmitter and aerial system was commissioned by Ofcom engineering staff and given the all clear for Celtic Music Radio to commence regular programming transmissions on 1530 kHz at 15:30 on Wednesday 16 January 2008.
Going from strength to strength
Celtic Music Radio on 1530AM and streaming on the internet ‘Online’ continues to develop programming and connections within our ‘community of interest’.
During 2008 singer-songwriters such as Ciaran Dorris, Mary Kathleen Burke and Stevie Lawrence joined the team. Their individual style of programming adds another layer of unique flavouring to Celtic Music Radio as well as making much valued links to Scotland’s music community.
In September 2009 the first fundraising concert was held at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Supporting Celtic Music Radio by appearing on the bill were: The Duplets, Craig Jeffrey, John Malcolm, Dean Owens, Kim Edgar and Eliza Carthy.
Celtic Music Radio also broadcast many concerts from acts such as Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Juliet Turner, Yvonne Lyon, Wendy Arrowsmith, Bellevue Rendezvous, Bruce Molsky, Patrick Bullen & Vivien Scotson, The Duplets, The National Youth Pipe Band, and Rallion amongst many others.
The Celtic Music Radio Album of the Week is covetted by the bands and performers who received the award. Such artists have included: Dave Gibb, Alan Reid & Rob van Sante, Andi Neate, The Paul McKenna Band, The Sands Family, John Malcolm, Craig Jeffrey, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, Nick Keir and Ockham’s Razor.
Celtic Music Radio continues to cover the Celtic Connections festival every January with our online listeners peaking at 19,200 during the 2010 festival.
In January 2010, Celtic Music Radio Limited registered as a Scottish Charity with OSCR, the Office of Scottish Charity Regulator with the registered Number SC041172. It is hoped that this move will allow applications for grant funding to further expand activities. You may wish to donate towards our running costs.
Switchover to FM
Celtic Music Radio applied to Ofcom for an FM broadcasting licence during Round 3 of Community Radio licensing and was successful with an award announced on 17 July 2012. The station has to get ‘on-air’ within two years of the licence award date.
Ofcom allocated Celtic Music Radio the 95.0 MHz FM frequency to cover Glasgow city with the station launch on 95 FM at 12 noon on Tuesday 1 July 2014. Unfortunately, the terms of the FM licence mean that transmissions on 1530 AM ceased on 1 July 2014.
Transmission on 95 FM across Glasgow brings Celtic Music Radio to a new audience in many parts of the city. Celtic Music Radio on 95 FM offers:
- Improved reception
- Improved availability
- Improved visibility to tune-in
- Improved listener experience
- Improved reasons to reach the audience
Celtic Music Radio’s mission continues to provided programming output that is both entertaining and educational with social gain.