Coming your way soon – the voice of Radio Homespun 

14 January 2019 tbs.pm/68191

IT LOOKS FOR CATS, GIVES RECIPES, AND FINDS TIME FOR MOZART

From the Daily Express for 6 August 1966

I DON’T know whether Mrs. Watterson will ever get back her lost grey kitten, but I and a few hundred holidaymakers have been looking anxiously for it.

In between Sinatra and Sandie Shaw, the appeal for the lost kitten went on the air as part of the public service provided by Manx Radio, the only official local broadcasting station in Britain and the pilot for what is now likely to become standard listening all over Britain

They are making radio history under Tom Reece’s billiard’s saloon in three tiny studios on the promenade here.

Four announcers, one scriptwriter and a handful of technicians have for months been shaping what is expected to be the future of independent broadcasting from Bournemouth to Bury when local stations are licensed.

It is an important experiment which has put Radio Caroline off the map before the Postmaster General could manage it, and now that the pirates are on the way out and the Government is committed to filling their place, the Manx formula is something like the local radio we in all expect to tune to side the next two years.

Difference

Manx Radio is far from being strictly pop. Mozart may not get the lion’s share of the time but he is there — though the discs which spin for 65 per cent of the day are not the essential difference between what the pirate stations and the B.B.C. less successfully put over to the local public.

The difference came this morning when the local announcer appealed for a clutch of fertile eggs for a farmer’s wife, when this afternoon a Mrs. Walcott asked if anybody would swop her a six-piece tea set for a birdcage.

And when Mrs. Watterson rand the station and caused the local crisis about the grey kitten.

There is a lot of corn about Manx Radio and a little too much manufactured exuberance on the American pattern, but certainly in its year or more of efficient existence it seems to have become a remarkably important part of the community.

A basement

Its quartet of programme-makers — only one has any experience of broadcasting — all in their twenties, blather on from dawn until peaktime TV starts in the evening, slogging in a basement while the transistors pick up their efforts on the beach a few yards away.

“Mrs. Cretnes will be round in a minute to give us her recipe for the day.” they say.

And by the time the next record ends a local housewife is telling you about her special way to stew lamb.

This morning, announcer Stuart Lord began his early record show complaining of hunger. “I could just do with some toast and marmalade and coffee.” he said.

Within minutes the housewives were trooping along the prom with enough breakfasts on trays to feed the whole station.

Not much more than a year from now, the people in Scunthorpe or Southsea will rave discovered this new quaint dimension in broadcasting.

For the same principles will apply to any self-contained community. The taxi driver who took me to the studio today said: “Everyone feels that the station belongs to them.

“I went to the same school as three of the announcers. It’s not just that they make us laugh. They are part of a service we should badly miss If the licence was taken away.”

The station has helped to find everything from an escaped convict to three stray heifers. Holidaymakers with nowhere to sleep broadcast appeals for accommodation and landladies with spare beds telephone back their addresses.

For £1 you can try to sell a bicycle or point out that you are selling baked beans cheaper than the man down the road.

Mr. John Grierson, general manager of Manx Radio, believes that a national chain of local broadcasting stations like this would run at a considerable profit.

The station gives an airing to local scouts, gardeners, youth clubs, tourists’ complaints and even teaches Gaelic.

I predict that it is a pattern that will soon build itself a vast public all over Britain

Important

There will be, of course, no substitute for the highly skilled national coverage o the B.B.C. but the Man experiment is a highly personal affair and the people who go down the prom to wave to their broadcaster through the studio window prove that this extra ingredient is important.

Two minutes ago. a woman broadcast an offer to exchange six pullets for an electrically-heated wash boiler. The deal has been completed already.

Not quite radio as we know it now in Britain.

But be sure that it is on the way.

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