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November 18, 2009

Two Lochs Radio – Rèidio Dà Locha

While Terry Wogan and Chris Moyles battle it out in the ratings war for breakfast time radio, in the remote Wester Ross community of Gairloch and Loch Ewe , it is the country’s smallest community owned radio station – Two Lochs Radio – that rules the airwaves. Celebrating its sixth birthday this week, Two Lochs Radio is part of a fast growing band of community radio pioneers

Serving the community in the Gairloch and Loch Ewe areas on 106 and 106.6 FM and online
Two Lochs Radio is the smallest licensed broadcaster in the UK and is based in a remote area, coastal Wester Ross. Comprehensive local surveys show it has a weekly reach of over 70% – that is to say that over 70% of survey respondents said they tune in at least once per week. The area is not specifically served by mainstream commercial media, newspapers or even billboards, so the radio station provides a very valuable channel for public information, notices and local news.
As a community-owned station, Two Lochs operates an open door policy, where any member of the public can get involved. This gives children and young people the opportunity to gain real broadcasting experience and become involved in a local organisation – an opportunity that would not be possible on most larger radio stations. It has also provided a new avenue of interest for older and retired people.
 A substantial proportion of Two Lochs Radio output is presented in Gaelic, but surveys show that listening to these programmes is not at all restricted to Gaelic speakers, and many non-Gaels report the Gaelic programmes as among their favourites. The station also presents Gaelic programmes from out with its own area, notably Barra and Cape Breton.
Two Lochs Radio also works cooperatively with neighbouring stations, particularly Cuillin FM on Skye, with regular on-air sharing or two-way working of programmes. Recently it mounted an exciting trip for its young trainee presenters who travelled by highspeed craft across the Minch to Portree to present an afternoon of programmes live on both stations.
The station supports a wide range of local cultural, charitable and youth events, providing ample opportunities for pre-event publicity, reports and direct participation or broadcasting of some events. It also provides facilities for recording of events or performers either for broadcast or use by other groups. The station has a keen interest in recording and preserving oral histories, and is gradually amazing a large archive of personal experiences and reminiscence recordings in English and Gaelic, likely to be of considerable interest to future generations.

The station’s expenses are funded from a diverse mixture of advertising revenue, donations, grants, membership subscriptions and fundraising activities and competitions. While it has proved relatively successful in obtaining grant assistance for capital expenditure, day-today revenue funding continues to be a major headache for the station, and a large diversion from its core activity of providing the community with a comprehensive and inclusive local radio service.

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