Radio Six at Sixty

Around the World from Scotland since 1963

On 6th June 1963, four schoolchildren gathered in the attic of a house on the Ardrossan seafront in Ayrshire to launch their very own radio station. Cobbled together with tins, clockwork gramophones, and lots of wire, the opening day’s programmes were line fed to a radio receiver two floors down. But it was a start and, against the odds, the station survived in a variety of forms and today can be heard 24/7 on the internet. With listeners in 208 countries, and both daily direct FM and regular shortwave rebroadcasts as well as a network of 30 affiliate AM, FM and Digital stations around the world, radio six international is a force to be reckoned with.

Programming is largely unsigned and indie performers worldwide, while at weekends a team of some 30 seasoned professionals provide specialist music programming. The station is now based in a purpose-built headquarters on the Inner Hebridean island of Lismore, a tiny island sandwiched between Oban on the mainland and the much bigger island of Mull to the west.


*1963 – 1966* – 11 year old schoolboy /Tony Currie/ invites a group of his friends to join him in his attic to build a radio station. With wind-up clockwork gramophones and ex-army microphones, the station is launched at 15:20 on 6th June with a mixture of records, chat and even a short play. The programmes are piped around the house for the rest of the family to hear and the launch team are /Derek Andrews, Morag Hamilton, Morag Gilmour/ and /Sheena Gossman/. Programmes are ‘broadcast’ irregularly mainly during school holidays and become more frequent.

From the Archives: Going back 49 years to the Station Log for Opening Day, June 6th!!
In 1966….Radio Six was still called Creag Mhor Radio….we were on the air (well, on the wires actually…) on January 2nd with ‘Junior Show’ hosted by Uncle Pop….and a greetings programme titled ‘Welcome 1966’ with TC and music from the Beatles….on disc, we reckon…!!

*1967 – 1969* – with regular programmes every day, printed programme guide *Radio News* is launched. It appears weekly, except when it doesn’t! Programmes now broadcast to neighbouring homes and next-door Eventide Home by wire. STV features the station on its news programme “Here & Now”. Joining Tony as main on-air regulars include / Gordon MacDonald, Chris Seabury, Dave Marshall, Jean Wright/ and /Eric MacDonald/ with programmes in stereo.

Cover of the 50th anniversary issue of Radio News, June 2013
The occasion was the opening of our second channel – with Radio Six now sharing the wires with Creag Mhor Radio (the name by which Radio Six had been known for its first two years) on May 26th, 1967. Left to right: Charlie Stewart, Janet Beevers, Matthew Futter, James Thomson, Chris Seabury and Tony Currie.

*1970 – 1975* – programme syndication begins with a number of regular programmes being shared with KPFK (Los Angeles), Radio Dubai, HBS Glasgow, Radio Paisley and RKW in Aberdeen. Studios rebuilt to professional specifications. Tony’s regular crew include /Dougie Allan, Tim Stevens, Ken MacDonald, John MacCalman, Steve Wright, Raymond Orr, Bridget Macgregor, Susan Broadfoot, Colin Dalziel, Bob Mackie (Bob McWilliam), Bill MacIntyre (Eric Simpson)/ and /David Jamieson/. Daily programming in Ardrossan ended in October 1973, and the station closed down permanently in Ayrshire. Studios moved to Glasgow’s west end.

*1976 – 1979* – Regular programming resumes from new studios on the south side of Glasgow . The station is now a workshop for professionals to try out new ideas and develop new skills, as well as provide syndicated programmes. Stations taking Radio Six material include HBS Glasgow, ORF Blue Danube Radio (Vienna), Radio Clyde, Westsound. Full broadcast spec studios installed. Regulars include /Iain Purdon, Karin Spalter, Charles Nove, Bob Mackie (Bob McWilliam)/ and /Morna Chambers.

*1980 – 1983* – Studios move to current location and are purpose-built. Plans made to expand the station. Further programme syndication to ORF, BBC Radio Scotland, Radio KLT-FM, Paisley Local Radio, Radio Nova International, Central London Radio, Heartland FM and Radio London.

We went on the air on the new broadband cable systems in Glasgow (through Clyde CableVision) and Aberdeen (from Aberdeen Cable). We were on these systems for a year before we decided the venture was not only somewhat ahead of its time but also a magnificent loss-maker! Pictured on launch day in Studio A are the original team – (l to r) Karin Spalter, Tony Currie, Don Cumming, Joanne Mason, Pat MacDermott, Alan Andrews and Maggie Lavender. Seated is a lovely lady from the Shopping Mall in East Kilbride whose name we simply can’t remember! (If you know who she is, please let us know.)
Monday October 7th, 1985. We began our test transmissions in Aberdeen, followed on Wednesday 9th October by our full service launch on the broadband cable systems in Glasgow and Aberdeen.

*1984 – 1986* – After demonstrating the potential of the service to politicians and cable operators, It is planned to launch as a cable station in East Kilbride in October 1984, but the sudden closure of the cable operator in that town delayed plans. Launched in October 1985 as a 12 hour daily service simultaneously in Glasgow and Aberdeen in FM Stereo via new broadband cable systems in both cities. The on-air team with Tony were /Allan Andrews, Don Cumming, Mark Goodier, Ulla Smartt, Karin Spalter, Mike Stevens, John Toye, Clem Ashby, Maggi Lavender, Joanna Tope, Sylvia Peters, John Carmichael/ and /Callum Kenmuir/. Due to poor cable takeup, the service closed a year later.

Here’s a rare publicity shot of the Radio Six team in 1984!
— with Pat McDermott, Joanne Mason, Maggie Lavender, Don Cumming, Allan Andrews and Karin Spalter.

*1987 – 1995* – Radio Six applies for Central Scotland radio licence under the chairmanship of /Sir Alan Peacock/. The two-year process ended when a group formed by Grampian and Border TV was awarded the licence. They promtly sold it. In 1996, Radio Six produces the weekly *Europe Top 40* show for Ukranian State Radio, for an estimated weekly audience of 75 million including listeners in Russia where the programme is relayed.

*1996 – 1999* – After the company considers other potential opportunities under the chairmanship of /Andrew Neil/, in 1999 Radio Six resumes daily programming in February on the ‘workshop’ basis.

*2000 – 2002* – Radio Six launches online on 9th March 2000. Initially a basic two hour programme of non stop music rolled over each day. On July 1st, 2001 the service is renamed *Radio Six International* and expanded initially to include a more varied selection of programmes although still the same 4 hours repeated endlessly from servers in the USA. But at 1720 GMT on 19th January 2002, the service goes live 24 hours a day from the Glasgow studios.

Listen to the Radio Six International live stream

*2003 – 2009* – With a new policy of playing unsigned bands, irregular shortwave broadcasts from transmitters in Italy started in December after successful test transmissions. *Record of the Year 2003* carried on shortwave as well as online. Regular monthly shortwave programmes from Italy began in April 2004. Daily shortwave programmes from a transmitter in Maine, USA started on 1st August 2004 and ended in July 2005. In March 2005 we added weekly shortwave transmissions from Ulbroka, Latvia and weekend FM transmissions via World FM in Tawa, New Zealand.

Radio Six International on shortwave 9290 kHz via Latvia received in Marahau, New Zealand 0600 UTC July 23, 2005.
© Chris Mackerell Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

In January 2006 we added weekend programmes on 945kHz in Riga, Latvia and from 6th June 2006, we were carried overnight on RTI-FM in Slovakia and on the Sky and Eurobird satellites as well as daily on 945kHz in Riga and 88.5FM in Tawa. On Dec 26th 2008 we ended Shortwave, FM in Slovakia and satellite transmissions to concentrate on webcasts, and signed copyright agreements with PRS, MCPS and PPL to allow us unlimited use of commercial records.

Radio Six International promos used on World FM in New Zealand

The team included Tony and Thea Newcomb, Alyson Woodhouse, John Cavanagh, George Burton, Paul Higginbotham, Spike Nesmith, The Reverend Rabbit, Sue Fisher, Moira Kerr, Judy Gruber, Diana Luke, Tom Fahey, Karen Miller, John Collins, Steve Flynn, Dan Roberts/ and /Robert Wallace.

* 2010 – * –

TC

TC in Studio A
Tony Currie with his weekly LIVELY LOUNGE in 2013
Audience waiting to gain admittance to recording of ‘The Tony Currie Show’ at the Lismore studios

Anniversary Edition of the Radio Six newsletter “Radio News”

Potted History by Tony Currie.

Tony Currie – Broadcaster, Record Producer

Images from the Radios Six International Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/radiosixinternational

Audio clips courtesy of Radio Heritage Foundation partner and Radio Six affiliate station World FM.

Visit the Radio Six website: http://www.radiosix.com

The Radio Six Theme

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