Islands of Curiosity

Islands FM, Scilly Isles

With its white-sand beaches and tropical foliage, the Scilly Isles have some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery (writes Monica Lillis). Originally launched as Radio Scilly in 2007, Islands FM is a non-profit community radio station informing and entertaining the five-island archipelago’s 2,500 inhabitants. We speak to Bob Bate, the station’s co-director, about what makes it tick.

Tell us about the history of the station.

It began with a chap called Keri Jones. He was a BBC radio producer who had the idea that the Isles of Scilly could do with its own little radio station. He applied for a temporary licence and the trial was a success.

How did you become involved with the station?

I started off as a teenager at a hospital radio station. After a lot of experience with the BBC in Cornwall and Devon, and with the BBC World Service, I semi-retired but my love of radio was still there. I heard that the radio station on the Isles of Scilly was looking for people to join. So I applied to become a director and was lucky enough to be accepted.

Who’s your most popular DJ?

We have a lovely lady called Jane who does the weather forecast every day. She’s a very keen amateur meteorologist. Everybody listens attentively to her weather forecasts, because nobody does it the same way as she does.

Radio Scilly 107.9 recorded in 2012
© Radio Heritage Foundation
Chris Mackerell Collection

What are some memorable broadcasting moments?

Just over two years ago, we decided to change the name of the station, which was a bit of a gamble. People did rather like the original name – Radio Scilly. But we found that people weren’t listening to it as much as they used to. So we decided to rebrand. It was quite a big job. But we did it and we are now known as Islands FM.

What local spots do you and your colleagues enjoy hanging out at?

There’s a great pub on the main island, St Mary’s, which I could heartily recommend; it’s called The Mermaid.

© MONOCLE Weekend Edition June 11, 2022

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