Regal Radio

Konect March 2015

With around 20 hours of live shows per week, West Lothian's fledgling community radio station is already off to a flying start. Have you tuned in yet?

Around 12 months ago, a Facebook message drew a few interested individuals to a Bathgate cafe to discuss developing a community radio. The upshot is a station broadcasting from a studio built by the enthusiasts themselves from recycled equipment and hard work in two small rooms on the top floor of the Bathgate Regal Theatre.

I called in one Monday evening, when their regular Brothers In Soul show was being broadcast. There is a different live show every weekday evening, and a live show for 1.5 hours every morning. The rest of the time, prerecorded shows and music is broadcast 24/7. Their website states, “The main aim of Regal Radio is to bring you as much audio content about our area as possible, plus a varied mixture of music chosen by our enthusiastic presenters.”

“Our first rule is to have a lot of fun!” explains Station Manager Steve Webster. Steve's background is in the telecommunications and broadcasting industry so it falls to him to look after the technical health of the station and to keep it on air. The quality of the sound is a testament to the skill of the little team; they broadcast at a bitrate of 128kbps – on a par with most stations in the UK.

A team of 11 individuals now operate the station, doing everything from presenting, interviewing and technical operations; only a few had any previous experience in broadcasting. Their aim is to develop from their current 20 hours of live shows per week to a full schedule including news and local interest talk-based content, “although,” adds Mike Kelly (lead presenter and trainer) “we're less interested in broadcasting a generic hourly news update – which you can get anywhere – than in shows specifically relating to West Lothian and the people here. I'd rather concentrate on one significant piece of West Lothian news per day than an hourly repeat of the same news as everywhere else.” This sums up the motivation behind Regal Radio's incredibly enthusiastic volunteers – orientated towards community service and wanting the station to be genuinely useful and interesting to West Lothian listeners, as well of course as playing a great selection of music and having fun in the process!

They are developing more and more ideas from people keen to get involved to make programs with a local community flavour. The main limitation is the time availability of the volunteers for training more presenters and recording programs. The opportunity to be creative on a community radio brings a great sense of pride and achievement and it's a great learning opportunity to improve public speaking, recording and technical skills.

Tune in and you'll be impressed at what the time, skills, energy and creativity of this small group of volunteers has created.

Sponsors, donations of equipment and suggestions for funding are being sought to take the station to the next level, and if you can help with any of these things they would love to hear from you. Contact Campbell Troup, Communications Manager on info@regalradio.net, tel 01506 632669 (answering machine)

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Regal Radio can only be received with an Internet connection – go to RegalRadio.net or via the mobile phone radio app, TuneIn.com.

Visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/regalradio

The group is totally unfunded, and without the support of the Regal Theatre the radio couldn't have happened. Besides hosting the studio free of charge, the Theatre has promoted the radio group and many other community arts start ups under The Regal Theatre’s umbrella. Bathgate is fortunate to have this unique art hub which hosts an impressive list of local groups, media activities, training, musical development, touring shows and the arts. Regal Radio have broadcast live shows from the theatre's auditorium and hope to develop opportunities to do more of this to take productions on to the web.