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31 December 1955
Carlisle, Cumbria, England
|Known for||His books
|Children||five, including James Morton|
Thomas "Tom" Morton (born 31 December 1955) is a Scottish writer, broadcaster, journalist and musician. He lives and works mainly in the Shetland Islands.
Morton is currently writing for the Shetland-based 60 North. He blogs extensively and presents a weekly music radio show called The Beatcroft Social, broadcast on Mixcloud from the Shetland Isles.
Until April 2015, Morton presented a BBC Radio Scotland show, broadcast Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am, a Scottish take on rock and pop from obscure blues to mainstream pop and soul and current independent releases.
He has written several books, including a biography of the Gaelic rock band Runrig, a whisky travelogue called Spirit of Adventure, and several critically acclaimed novels. A spy novel called Serpentine was published in the UK in 2009 and in the US and Canada the following year. For many years, he worked as a print journalist, as a columnist with the Daily and Sunday Express, Scotland on Sunday, The Big Issue in Scotland, The Shetland Times, and as a staff reporter with national newspaper The Scotsman. He was the first non-DC Thomson employee to script the legendary Sunday Post cartoon strips The Broons and Oor Wullie – something he did for 12 months in 2005 and 2006. A Whisky in Monsterville, "the first interactive malt whisky novel" was published in August 2013 by Looderhorn Books.
From November 2011 until January 2015 he edited the magazine "Shetland Life".
Born in Carlisle, Cumberland, England, but brought up by his Scottish family in Glasgow and Troon, Ayrshire, Morton's early years were characterised by committed evangelical Christianity which he alluded to in the novel Red Guitars in Heaven. Heavily involved in religious music during the 1970s and early 1980s, he released several albums and toured as a full-time evangelical singer. This period of Morton's life ended in 1984: a change referenced in several of his books.
His subsequent career included writing reviews and features for the defunct rock weekly Melody Maker, and working as a producer and presenter in religious TV. A move to the Shetland Islands in 1987 saw his appointment as news editor of The Shetland Times, and the subsequent formation of the islands' first freelance news agency. Appointment as Highlands and Islands Reporter with The Scotsman led to four years with the paper before a return to Shetland and more freelance work. He has continued to work sporadically in television, with the Discovery Home and Leisure series Village Green, about ecological housing, and three series of the STV motoring programme Wheelnuts. He wrote and presented the ITV Network productions The Rock that Doesn't Roll and The Rock That Rolled Away, and the international golf feature, available on DVD, The Old Course. He has written scripts for some TV and many radio programmes.
His radio work began in 1992 on BBC Radio Scotland. In 2006, he released a CD of original musical material, mainly self-conscious meditations on the perils of being an ageing rock'n'roll fan. He blogs regularly.
Morton pioneered the use of ISDN digital telephone technology to broadcast nationally from his home in the Shetland Islands. For several years his radio show came mostly from The Radiocroft, an ISDN-equipped crofthouse in the remote north of Shetland's Mainland. However, in December 2008, after months of unreliability, the local exchange was struck by lightning during a broadcast and the Tom Morton show went off air. A decision was taken to move the show to the BBC studios in Lerwick, at local radio station BBC Radio Shetland. During frequent visits to the UK mainland, the show came from BBC studios in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Oban, Inverness, Wick, Ayr, Tunbridge Wells, Stranraer and other temporary ISDN linked studios.
Morton has returned to live performance with the Malt and Barley Revue a musical show about whisky. He has a blog about alcohol called Drinking for Scotland. The full-length thriller Serpentine, set in Palestine, Scotland and Northern Ireland, was published in June 2009 by Mainstream Publishing. He has written about whisky for several publications and co-wrote the privately published (2009) book Journey's Blend, about a charity motorcycle trip around Scotland's most geographically extreme distilleries.
Morton has provided public relations and social media advice and services to a variety of concerns throughout Scotland. He has also presented live debates, workshops and seminars, notably at the Belladrum "Tartan Heart" Festival. Working with Glasgow-based events and promotion company Fairpley, he established the "Barnard Challenge" whisky tour and the "Mull to Muckle" long distance cycle ride, publicising the charities Spirit Aid and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum.
For much of 2011, Morton provided public relations services and advice on developing a communications strategy for Shetland Islands Council. He also wrote all the text for the acclaimed "Shetland – the brand" campaign and continues to provide social media and copywriting services to the organisation Promote Shetland. In November 2011 he took over from Malachy Tallack as editor of the magazine Shetland Life, resigning in January 2015.
His novel A Whisky in Monsterville was published in 2013, claiming to be "The World's First Interactive Whisky Thriller". It is available as a paperback and Kindle e-book. He produced all the content for Promote Shetland's Power From the North promotional magazines, aimed at increasing awareness of Shetland's involvement for energy production and related fields, and ran the social media aspect of this campaign, editing the Power From The North blog and Twitter feed. For a year from June 2016, he presented a live internet music radio show to accompany Promote Shetland's live coastal webcam feeds every Saturday. This streamed on Facebook, Periscope and on the 60 North servers. The show in audio only is still available weekly via Mixcloud.
In June 2017 Morton published the book 'In Shetland: Tales from the Last Bookshop'.