Radio Scilly broadcasts from our studios at Porthmellon. The audio output from our studio is sent to the Coastguard Mast at Telegraph from where it is radiated. We transmit 100watts on 107.9 FM, more than enough power to cover Scilly. You can see all of our islands from our mast!
Unlike mainland radio stations you wont see the station name pop-up on your car radio display. This is called RDS. We didn’t think there was much point since car journeys are so short and we are the only radio station for the islands! We don’t have a congested radio dial in fact, you can’t get the mainland commercial stations at all here unless you’re up around High Lanes or the Airport.
The audio signal is ‘processed’Â and made to sound brighter and nicer with an Optimod processor. It is a bit like a graphic equaliser. The studio mic is an Electrovoice RE20. Keri’s indulgence. He likes their sound! And we use an Alice broadcast desk in the main studio and a smaller desk in the production area. Most recording is done in the main on-air studio.
The studio computer system, that plays back all of our music and adverts and pre-recorded shows is the British automation system, Myriad.
We have over 9000 songs on the system but only 900 are in regular play or rotation. That’s still a lot of music!
During the evening, volunteer presenters can play what they wish. Some use CDs, some download their music onto our computer system but the majority of specialist show hosts bring in their selections on their mp3 players and iPods and play their tracks that way. During the day, Radio Scilly presenters don’t have the free choice that evening volunteers do. We need to maintain a uniform sound and we need to ensure that all of the songs we play are familiar and will be likely to appeal to the widest possible audience. So we schedule music using software. The songs are categorised to offer wide range of music from the 1960s to today to reflect our wide-age range of listeners. The software will also stop the same artist coming on every hour and make sure that you don’t hear the same oldies every day. It helps rotate the music and add diversity to our daytime music.Â It also stops presenters playing all their favourites. We want to play everyone’s favourites during the day, not just the DJ’s! This variety means our station appeals to the widest number of listeners and that’s good for our advertisers who know they are investing in a radio station people are listening to, so their messages will be heard, too.
The computer picking the daytime music also frees up Keri, or whoever is doing the morning show, to concentrate on news, features and interviews. It’s a lot of work choosing music for a 1 hour weekly show as many of our volunteers will tell you. Doing it for 5 hours a day, 6 daysÂ week would add too much to the workload.
We schedule music on Myriad’s sister music scheduling software which is called Autotrack.
Evenings are freeform. Anything goes!
Radio Scilly On Location:
Off-island contributors, like Toby at St Martins or Marion Bennett on Bryher use digital recorders to record their interviews and shows and then send them back to Radio Scilly via email as mp3 attachments. We can then download the files and broadcast them. We cannot go live in full broadcast quality from an off- island, but we can get these ‘almost live’ recording on air rapidly using this method.
We can get items on, ‘as live’ in as quick as 4 minutes after the actual event and we pioneered this approach in the field during our coverage of the 2008 and 2009 Tresco Marathon.
All we used to cover the event was a couple of digital recorders, a laptop and access to the Tresco Estate wifi system. Reporters emailed their clips and they were downloaded for broadcast at Porthmellon.
In Spring 2010, Keri was stuck in Penzance due to fog, along with many islanders, after he went to report on the British International Helicopters 3 millionth passenger celebrations. Using the latest technology, he was able to present the breakfast show on his iPhone from Penzance almost live, with just a 10-15 minute delay. So islanders still heard their news, interviews and the morning travel and weather. Who knows where the technology will take us next?