The afternoon programme on Cuillin FM and Two Lochs Radio were one and the same recently thanks to a water skimming trip to Portree by school children from Gairloch.
The group of young trainee radio stars from Two Lochs Radio in Wester Ross took over the airwaves of their neighbouring local radio station across the water at Cuillin FM, and they arrived in style.
Portree on the Isle of Skye is just 28 miles away as the airwaves travel from Gairloch in Wester Ross, but it’s over 100 miles by road, so station manager Alex Gray enlisted the services of local Hebridean Whale Cruises skipper Nick Davies and his high-speed offshore inflatable craft Orca 1, which more usually takes tourists and wildlife enthusiasts on trips from Gairloch to the Shiant Islands, to whisk the young radio crew across the waves.
The wave-skimming trip took just 45 minutes to whisk the group over the sea to Skye for a pirate-radio raid on the Skye station. To the evident surprise and delight of Cuillin FM presenter John Grundy, the group of five primary schoolchildren and four secondary pupils from Gairloch High School took just minutes to familiarize themselves with the technicalities of the unfamiliar studio, and were soon ready to present an afternoon of shows from their temporary home.
Their afternoon programmes were broadcast live simultaneously on Cuillin FM and Two Lochs Radio. The trip arose out of the strong links already forged between the two neighbouring independent radio stations, and Two Lochs Radio’s desire to give its young trainees experience of working in another station, and important financial support was received from Youthlink Scotland and the Highland Council.
The young presenters are trained at Two Lochs Radio by organisers Campbell Elder and Dave Griggs, who are themselves volunteer radio presenters. When asked by their Skye hosts for the day how many of the nine could work the studio control desk and equipment, one of the girls just shrugged and said casually “Well, we all can.”
Headteacher of Gairloch High School, John Port, who accompanied the trip, said he was most impressed with the skill and confience of the young people, and added that “not even many adults would be able to walk in to a situation like that and cope so effectively.”
Two Lochs’ manager Alex Gray said “We are very grateful to everyone who helped make this trip a success, and especially to Cuillin FM for their hospitality. I hope that one day we can return the favour by receiving a similar ‘raiding party’ from Portree!”