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Radio Scotland was an offshore pirate radio station broadcasting on 1241 kHz mediumwave (242 metres), created by Tommy Shields in 1965. The station was located on the former lightship L.V. Comet, which was anchored at various locations off the Scottish coastline, usually outside territorial waters.
The station began broadcasting on 31 December 1965 and featured DJs including Paul Young, Richard Park, and Jack McLaughlin with his irreverent céilidh programme that promised to tickle the listener's "tartan tonsils." Its land-based headquarters, Radio Scotland House, was located at a (now demolished) building at Cranworth Street, Hillhead in Glasgow. (A two-minute walk from BBC's Scottish HQ). As well as being the station's administrative centre, Cranworth Street also allowed the creation of taped programmes - using 1/4" magnetic tape, which were taken out to the ship by tender and replayed as and when required.
The Comet was initially anchored off Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland and the station achieved strong coverage of Edinburgh, but could not be received as clearly in Glasgow. Shields decided to move the ship to Troon off the island of Arran on the West coast, but since it had no working engine this meant that it had to be towed all the way. Adding to the expense was the fact that the station remained on the air during the journey, meaning that it had to take a much longer route to remain outside British territorial waters.
The anchorages off the West coast of Scotland were found to be within territorial waters and the company was fined £80 as a result, bringing about a move to offshore of Co Down, Northern Ireland and the station changing its name to Radio Scotland and Ireland for a time, then Irish state broadcaster RTÉ claimed the station was causing adjacent channel interference to its Dublin transmitter (then on 1250 kHz). In addition, unfortunately but unsurprisingly, transmissions to the East of Scotland were much worse from this location, so Shields returned the ship to a new anchorage on the East coast off Fife Ness and the Isle of May. As well as giving the Eastern area of Scotland a strong signal, the "water run" from this position meant the signal didn't hit land until it reached Grangemouth in Stirlingshire, only about 20 miles (32 km) from Glasgow. So the Central Belt at last had a listenable signal.
The station closed on August 14, 1967, when the Marine Offences Act 1967 legislation came into force. Shields had repeatedly lobbied the British Government to grant Radio Scotland exemption from the act and attempted to negotiate terms under which the station might continue to operate legally, but was always refused. One of his main arguments was that the station was broadcast into areas of Scotland where it was not possible to receive BBC radio services.
The majority of the crew and presenters were at a party in Glasgow to say farewell to Radio Scotland that night. It was left to Andy Main, electrical engineer and occasional late night DJ, to give the last transmission and put Radio Scotland off air.