East Coast FM wins three-year licence battle

Station director Ian Robertson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Station director Ian Robertson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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A RADIO station which racked up more than a million listeners from around the world online has hit the airwaves after finally winning a three-year battle for FM status.

East Coast FM will be broadcasting on 107.6 FM from 7am until midnight every day, with listeners across the county able to tune in.

It comes after a hard-fought campaign that earned the ­support of local politician Fiona O’Donnell MP, who ­lobbied broadcasting regulator Ofcom on behalf of the ­station and even took its case to Westminster.

To celebrate Saturday’s launch, a series of celebrity guests called in live to the ­studio, including Scottish actor Iain Agnew, ­Hollyoaks star Kieron Richardson and Stuart Barrie, the programme controller of rivals Capital FM, turned up to wish them luck. A parade through Haddington had three East Lothian pipe bands and performances from LA Dance School and Dimonique Twirlers.

Station director Ian Robertson, 62, said: “We have been waiting for this day for a long time and we are so pleased that we will be reaching out to an even bigger audience now that we will be broadcasting on 107.6 FM.

“We are one of the best and most respected community radio stations in Scotland and it’s our aim to provide our ­listeners with the best mix of music and chat. We want to be at the centre of the ­community.

“It’s an ­exciting day and history in the making for East Lothian.

“We are off on another road in terms of the station and one a lot people said was never going to happen.

“The team are so excited about what’s happened. It’s like winning the cup for us. I’m hoping that we will provide a service to the communtiy and will move away from commercial radio because it has become so repetitive and they cannot talk about what’s going on in Dunbar High Street, North Berwick or Tranent.

“Our hyper-local value is a big plus and I think we have been trained enough over three years to attract the listener and then to keep them.”

Presenter Kelly Murphy, who has a weekly show called The Inside Track, said she was excited about a new audience.

She said: “East Coast FM already has a dedicated ­listenership but now we’ve got the opportunity to reach out to many more people.

“There’s such a good variety of shows and content it really has something for everyone and we’re all really excited about the station growing.

“A big thanks to Ian and the team who keep the station running, they have put a huge effort in to get us to the big launch.”

Stuart Barrie of rival ­station Capital FM said: “This is a great day for East Coast FM, it really is a great community radio station already but by moving to FM they’re opening up to a significant amount of new listeners.

“I would encourage anyone passionate about radio in the area to get involved.

“This station offers a great mix programming that ­represents all genres and has something for everyone in the local community.”

More than 50 volunteers work at East Coast FM which is kept afloat through advertising and local fundraising efforts.

Station faces stiff competition

EAST Coast FM will be facing some stiff competition from other local stations.

The one to beat is Forth FM, with a 16.2 per cent listener share. The station, situated on Forth Street in the city centre, was launched on January 22, 1975 by current chairman Richard Findlay.

Capital FM, part of the larger nationwide chain formerly known as Beat 106, has roughly a six per cent listener share across the country. Black Diamond FM, which is based in Midlothian and began operations in 2007, is another rival. A listener map on its website shows fans as far away as North America and Southern Africa.

Castle FM, formerly Leith FM, is another popular local station and boasts presenters such as John Leslie.

It is supported by donations from loyal listeners.

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