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A new community internet radio station is being launched on Arran.
Born out of The Arran Banner talking newspaper service – arransound.com – has been 30 years in the making.
But as we move out of lockdown the Arran Sound group of volunteers realised that what was needed was a simple way to reach everyone on the island. The very obvious solution was by internet radio, and with the birth of arransound.com they intend their talking newspaper listeners to be some of the first to benefit from the new island radio station.
Arran Sound chairwoman Mhairi-Aileen Smeir said: ‘With some modern wizardry, over the coming months we hope to provide a new and exciting, one touch, service which will bring the local news and views to everyone in our island community, overcoming visual and ability barriers, social isolation and physical distance.
‘All the content will be available 24 hours a day, however ultimately our aim is to “go live” as soon as possible and bring an immediacy to news and views from Arran, on a daily basis. We have some well-known island presenters on stand by!’
‘With initial funding from the Supporting Communities Fund Grant Scheme, kindly identified for us by ACVS, the very generous support from Alan Cameron of Soundtrap and his magical software, a fantastic collaboration from Mrs Foster and Mr Dickie from the Arran High School, and of course the far-sighted encouragement of the Arran Sound readers, we are now launching arransound.com community internet radio.’
Communication can have serious implications for a small and sometimes isolated population such as on Arran. This became very evident during the blizzards of March 2013 when the entire island was cut off from the mainland with no electricity supply and limited ferry service for a substantial period of time. This made island-wide communications almost impossible, and although the islanders are incredibly resilient and self reliant, the vulnerable and less able, isolated by distance and impassable terrain were only contactable by the physical attributes of our local mountain rescue volunteers making face-to-face contact.
In such an emergency situation, a dedicated local radio station, supported if necessary by off grid means, that can give immediate and up-to-date information to all members of the Arran community, in particular our vulnerable and isolated islanders, will be a lifeline service.
Again, during the Covid-19 pandemic, with large numbers shielding and the general population remaining at home, a central point of contact for island news, information and reassurance would have been extremely helpful. The island has very limited means of receiving factual and swift information on an on-going basis.
Several Arran Facebook forums were very helpful for many, receiving real-time news from the Arran Medical Group, The Co-op , NAC and the food hub. However, this requires an internet ready computer, reliable broadband, the ability to use both and membership of Facebook. For a variety of reasons, many Arran folk are not connected to Facebook and therefore not privy to whatever information may be available there. Often broadband is intermittent on the island, many people do not subscribe to Facebook and much of the information is hearsay. This can be very misleading, confusing and alarming, especially during a crisis.
Mhairi added: ‘Arran is almost alone among the islands of the West Coast having no dedicated radio station. Some enterprising locals have established their own podcasts, distributed on the internet. These are very welcome and supported by the islanders and lovers of Arran from further afield, with their popularity confirming the widespread desire for local content and social interaction. However each podcast takes time and energy which can be limited with work and family commitments, and also tend to be of a visual nature more suitable to the sighted person. arransound.com will, we hope, have a comprehensive audio playlist.
‘We are very grateful to so many contributors who have offered their recordings and, podcasts, concerts, links and access to websites and archives. For example there will be Whiting Bay’s wonderful ‘memories’ interviews, with reminiscences from loved local characters; the Music School’s concerts, individual performances and McLellan Festival presentations; the Summer School’s evening performances, story books for young and old, and out-and-about interviews.
‘With kind permission from The Arran Banner and The Voice for Arran, both will be available in audio for our listeners along with so much more. We are limited only by the willingness of our community to contribute whatever content they have made or recorded, on or about Arran and her people.
‘The station could be a central space where interesting news and events, by and for our community can be available 24 hours a day, any day. This will be completely dependant on the community getting behind the idea and listening in on a regular basis. Everyone can contribute too, if you have recordings that you think Arran folk would love to hear, please send it along or get in touch via arransound.com or telephone 01770 302158. We are looking forward to hearing from you all.’
For this project to be successful, the group is keen to involve Arran’s young people who will be the volunteers of the future. They must be offered the means by which to learn skills, useful for their future but also the opportunity to have fun and grow, developing their own interests and showcasing their talents and ideas. Arran is so lucky to have the High School and Music School and award-winning Arran Youth Foundations, all serving our young people superbly.
The young people will record, produce, promote and broadcast their own music and interviews, report local news and what is going on around the island. Every organisation and group can contribute their news, events or reports. The Arran Medical Group, Health and Social Care, NAC and ACVS will have immediate access to all islanders and Arran people to each other. The Arran Banner and The Voice for Arran will also be available in audio for Arran Sound listeners.
* See next week for 30 years of the Talking Banner.
Can you design a logo for the station?
As this is to be a community radio, we are starting with two competitions. The first for S1-S3 students to design a logo for the station, this has a great prize attached.
The second way to be involved is for young people from S4 upwards to to produce some wonderful photographs which will be used as the website’s homepage image and rotate on a monthly basis. Entry information is available on arransound.com
We are waiting to see what you can all come up with that will really illustrate your ideas for our island radio station.
As this is YOUR radio station, we are waiting for your input, we need your support and active engagement to truly be an island station. Anyone who would like to volunteer, especially if you have technical knowledge and can spare an hour or two, would be warmly welcomed. Please make contact through the site arransound.com or by email: email@example.com or by telephone 01770 302158, we will be delighted to hear from you. These contacts can also be used for island announcements you wish to distribute.
Please keep returning
arransound.com will grow week by week as contributions are submitted to the station, so please remember to keep coming back. If you have recordings which you think Arran folk would love to hear, please send it along or get in touch via arransound.com or telephone 01770 302158.
We are looking forward to hearing from you. Please help us make YOUR community station a success.