Local, local, local – where radio does it best

Picture shows an Arran Sound volunteer broadcasting from their home studio.
An Arran Sound volunteer broadcasting from their home studio.

I’ve written a few posts promoting the benefits of local radio and hyper-local radio over the years. I’m a bit like a cracked record in that regard as I really believe that’s what radio should be used for.

I’m returning to the topic as a result of a long journey that took me to the website of Arran Sound, which serves the visitors and (hardy) residents of the Isle of Arran in Scotland. You see, in the 1980s I worked on some radio jingles for a DJ called Marty Ross and during a recent clear out came across a reel of tape featuring his jingles that I have since digitised.

In hunting for Marty a few weeks ago, to send him his old jingles (for old times’ sake), I came across a Marty Ross at Arran Sound. Turns out he is not the Marty I am looking for.

But having found Arran Sound I thought it rude not to listen to the station. Mixed in with the ‘normal’ pop hits is plenty of traditional Scottish music along with songs performed by what I assume are local artists.

However, what really caught my attention was the content between the music, it was as local as one could get. From dates, times and places of local groups, societies, and club meets, to recording local history, and promoting future events such as art exhibitions and poetry readings.

Arran Sound volunteers taking part in a local event.
Arran Sound volunteers taking part in a local event.

Sure, it’s a station that broadcasts over the internet and can be heard anywhere, but it is the perfect example of what hyper-local radio should sound like. It could have a global audience, but focuses on the community it serves – giving them something a commercial station couldn’t hope to provide.

My point is, a local station should serve the local people and garner the support of local advertisers – building a circle of success. One group supports the other.

It’s an example of what radio used to be before the corporations started snapping up every frequency they could, dissolving the fabric of community in the process, and cutting local people out of local radio.

The story of Arran Sound is also interesting, born out of a weekly service where volunteers recorded news on cassette tapes that were mailed to those unable to read local newspapers.

And if you know of a Marty Ross who worked at Radio Top Shop…Let him know I’m looking for him.

Top picture shows an Arran Sound volunteer broadcasting from their home studio.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.