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A teen finally finds the studio

I had the radio bug.

Listening wasn’t enough. I needed to understand how all the parts went together. The shows were impossibly sexy sounding. Dave Marshall on breakfast on Clyde sounded like he was high up a tower looking down on the city ‘marshalling’ the morning commute. Brian Ford at the other end of the day was impossibly slick and had an amazing voice.

Closer to home, Forth had come on air and once Mike Scott arrived on breakfast the impossible largesse of paying for someone’s shopping each morning sounded frech and different.

How could I be part of this?

Initially my brother provided the answer. Kevin was a genius with a soldering iron and fabricated a box (actually a passive crossfader) that made an early version of ‘Bedroom FM’ possible. Many happy hours were spent creating shockingly bad ‘radio’, but I was beginning to understand how difficult this this really was.

In my head, it struck me that all local radio stations (in Scotland at least) had rivers for names. The nearest unclaimed river was the Tay, so an early version of Radio Tay was born. (The irony that I now broadcast on Bauer’s Tay 2 is not lost on me).

But what next?

Despite some very encouraging teachers school didn’t have the kit to make radio so I needed a miracle.

In 1977, that miracle appeared.

I was 14 when Radio Royal launched. It was a hospital station serving Falkirk and Stirling Royal infirmaries from studios atop the nurses home at the RSNH in Larbert. My poor dad drove my up and down there while I learned the ropes – visiting patients, helping put together the music for shows and learning how to work the equipment.

We had a studio, a control room, an office, a record library and a sort-of common room.

From memory the studio featured a ‘Partridge’ Mixer, a brace of Garrard 401 turntables and a lone cart machine for jingles.

By modern standards it was inflexible, slow moving and very mechanical. The quality of early microphones wasn’t great, so the walls were treated with egg boxes and heavy curtains to control the sound of the room.

Rudimentary it may have been, but to me it was a palace of technology.

After a long spell choosing tunes for other people and collating requests from the wards, the time came. I was allowed to make a demo.

It was awful. I could operate the studio and I could certainly hit the post, but everything else was poor. So I sought help from another member who had just started a job in commercial production at Radio Forth. Keith Hogg was, therefore, an expert.

The second demo was much more successful and resulted in me getting a show. Who knew that 41 years later I’d still be playing the same music on the radio?

7.30 on Thursday evenings. The show was called the “Country Clinic”.

Author: johnco

Born in 1963, been involved in radio since 1977.

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