Monday, November 10, 2014

North of the Stone Wall: The Radio Scene in Scotland - Part 2

Portions of Hadrian's Wall in Scotland (wikipedia)
In Part 2 of the  radio scene in Scotland, North of the Stone Wall, we go back to the early 1920's, at the time when the first radio broadcasting stations were installed in Scotland.  All four of these early BBC stations were Marconi units rated at 1½ kW; three operated in the medium wave band, and one in the longwave band.
            Radio program broadcasting came to Scotland on March 6, 1923 with the inauguration of station 5SC in Glasgow with 1½ kW on 717 kHz.  The original studios were located in a confined area, in an attic in Rex House at 202 Bath Street, and the transmitter was installed in the Pinkston Power Station at Port Dundas, a mile north of Glasgow city.  The number at the beginning of the call sign 5SC has no apparent real significance within the territories of the United Kingdom, though the letters SC would seem to indicate the first two letters in the territorial name, Scotland.
            Subsequent stations that came on the air quite soon afterwards were Aberdeen 2BD 605 kHz,  Edinburgh 2EH 328 kHz, and Dundee 2DE 906 kHz.  The call sign for each of these three subsequent stations began with the number 2, and the letters in each call sign can be seen in the name of the city of  license.
            Thus the second radio broadcasting station in Scotland was 2BD (605 kHz) in Aberdeen, a relay station with studios at 17 Belmont Street and the transmitter almost adjoining at the Aberdeen Steam Laundry in Claremont Street.  This station was officially inaugurated on October 10 of the same year 1923.    
            The third station was the lone long wave relay station 2EH (328 kHz) with studios in the back premises of a music shop at 79 George Street Edinburgh
and the transmitter in a wooden hut in the quadrangle at the nearby university buildings at Teviot Place on the other side of the main railway station. 
            In addition to the relay of programs from the network key station 5SC in Glasgow, the Edinburgh 2EH was noted back in that era for the production of its own afternoon programming, and a Childrens Hour on Friday evenings.  This station was officially inaugurated on May 1 of the following year 1924.
            The fourth early broadcasting station in Scotland was 2DE (906 kHz) in Dundee with studios at 1 Lochee Street and the transmitter at the Caldrum Jute Works on nearby St. Salvador Street.  This station was inaugurated on November 12 of the same year 1924.
            All four of the original medium wave stations in Scotland were subsequently replaced by the BBC at updated locations with new equipment before the commencement of World War II in 1939.
            North of the Stone Wall, in Scotland itself, the BBC is on the air these days with a multitude of radio and TV stations throughout the entire country.  The BBC Scotland runs separate radio & TV channels in English and in the Gaelic language.
            A map indicating all of the AFRS American Forces Radio Stations in the British Isles during World War 2 shows two stations in Scotland.  These stations were located at American bases apparently near the two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Almost nothing is known about these two stations, except that they operated at very low power, usually 50 watts.  It is known that one station was installed in the American Military Hospital at Cowglen, near Glasgow.
            No regular shortwave broadcasting station has ever been erected in Scotland, though hobby pirates have been noted at various times.  For example, QSL cards show:-
                        Radio Freedom         Midlothian                  1974      35 watts        6220 kHz
                        Radio Stella               Central Scotland       1983      20                  7319
                        Voice of Scotland     Cambridge England           1993    300                  6205

            However, there have been some program relays on shortwave from Scotland with the usage of relay stations in the northern hemisphere.  A licensed internet radio station, Radio Six International in Glasgow, took out several short term relays via shortwave stations in Europe and the United States.  The shortwave stations in Europe were located in Italy and Latvia, and the shortwave stations in the United States were WBCQ in Monticello Maine and WWCR in Nashville Tennessee.  These shortwave relays from Radio Six International were on the air for a period of a little over five years, running from December 2003 to December 2008.
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 297 via Adrian Peterson)