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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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Isles FM

Isles FM is our local radio station, which broadcasts from a studio in Stornoway. The studio used to be an old boatshed. The station has been going for some years, I think it's getting on for 9 years now, and it's run entirely by volunteers. Some people regard it as a bit of a joke, but in actual fact the station came into its own at the time of the hurricane in January 2005. The power was off in many parts of Lewis, including at Eitsal, where the transmitters for radio and TV are located. The only radio station operating in the island was Isles FM, which remained on air although its aerial was damaged. The information it relayed included warnings from the council, for instance not to venture into the Castle Grounds due to large numbers of fallen trees, or trees that were perched in a precarious position. Closure notices of schools were broadcast, and also updates on the power situation. The workers from Scottish and Southern Electricity, who supply power up here, listened to the station to know where there were still outages. In that way, they were able to focus their attentions on specific lines and areas. As a mark of appreciation, they donated £50,000 to Isles FM and pledged to meet further donations like for like. At the moment, Isles FM is only audible in Lewis and across the Minch near Ullapool. The station is seeking to expand its coverage right down the island chain as far as Barra, and over to Skye. To this end, they need about half a million pounds. Money which they need to raise through charitable events etcetera. A site has been bought where a larger studio is to be built, not far from its current location on Newton Street.
Following the hurricane, things had been blown about a bit. Wheelie bins were all over the place, and the residents of a certain Stornoway address found themselves confronted by the sight of a garden pond sitting in their garden - although they never possessed such an item before the hurricane. An appeal went out for anyone missing a garden pond to contact the station.
Later in the year, the quirky side of the station came out. A new bylaw had been introduced, which meant that a fine could be levied against anyone who allowed their dog to foul in a public place. The question follows what constitutes a public place. A list was read out. Pavements, the Castle Grounds, but also a beach. In order to appreciate the joke, it's necessary to know that the local accents curtails the length of vowels. The word 'reach' is pronounced as 'rich'. When the presenter told his listener that they were required to clean up after their dog on a beach, faces went red and guffaws were stifled. But not as red as the presenter who announced after a stumble on-air that she was still taking electrocution lessons. The worst one happened the other day.
One of the standard program items in the morning is called Pets' Corner. Listeners can ring in to ask if anyone has seen their missing moggie or whether anybody can house a lamb or two. After that was over, the following announcement was made. "The Council is announcing that the abattoir is now open for business. So come along out and bring your pets..." A deadly silence followed. "That should obviously be BEASTS". That can happen to anybody. As I said before, the station has a role to play.

All in all, they're doing a good job in trying circumstances, and I've been more than pleased to support them in their fundraising efforts.

Isles FM
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 11:10


We tried to get a community radio station started here last year but there was too much arguing about programming and no one doing anything to get the thing up ans running. Every volunteer was happy to make programmes but no one was interested in raising money for an infrastructure. I gave up in the end but if anyone is interested in having another go let me know.

Sunny from Arran

It can't be that smart a station - it's made no contact re sponsorship etc for the dating festival.

alan john whicker from Greg Dyke Cottage Fivepenny

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