Find­ing the voice

The ra­dio sta­tion cel­e­brat­ing Scot­land’s rich her­itage

SCOTS Heritage Magazine - - Contents - Words Jan­ice Hop­per

Cel­e­brat­ing and pre­serv­ing Scot­land’s rich her­itage comes in many in­no­va­tive forms, but a small band of broad­cast­ers are punch­ing above their weight to get no­ticed. An on­line in­ter­net ra­dio pro­gramme that cel­e­brates the Scots lan­guage and cul­ture, and which is pre­sented in Scots, was nom­i­nated for a top in­ter­na­tional award in the Celtic Me­dia Fes­ti­val, along­side some of the world’s big­gest ra­dio sta­tions.

‘Scots Ra­dio’ is pre­sented and pro­duced by well known broad­caster Frieda Mor­ri­son and fea­tures Scots ‘fae Shet­land tae the Bor­ders and athin in atween’. Set up in De­cem­ber 2013 the pro­gramme at­tracts thousands of lis­ten­ers, from lo­cal Scots to

the ded­i­cated Scot­tish di­as­pora, with its spe­cial blend of dis­cus­sions, events and mu­sic.

In the nom­i­nated episode, the pro­gramme fea­tures the Book of the

Howlat, which is based on a 15th cen­tury poem that was launched at Dar­n­away Cas­tle in Mo­rayshire, the Scot­tish Sto­ry­telling Fes­ti­val, and fin­ishes at the Food Fes­ti­val in Ed­in­burgh. Other episodes fea­ture sto­ries from the vast well of Scot­tish Her­itage - the whisky smug- glers, the slave trade in Scot­land, the thinker’s heart, hid­den Aberdeen and the soldiers of Kil­liecrankie.

Scots Ra­dio stands out be­cause it talks in the lan­guage of Scot­land, rather than about the lan­guage of Scot­land. Lan­guage, com­mu­nity and cul­ture are al­ways in­ter­twined. Her­itage is a sub­tle in­ter­play of the land, the peo­ple, the lan­guage, mu­sic, cul­ture and his­tory. If you re­move or un­der­mine one el­e­ment, it has a knock-on rip­ple ef­fect across the board. Scots Ra­dio is mak­ing small but sig­nif­i­cant steps to make talk­ing in Scots a talk­ing point.

Whilst most me­dia out­lets pub­lish and broad­cast in English or Gaelic, Scots Ra­dio is one place where lo­cal ac­cents and di­alects are used with an ease that’s nat­u­ral and en­gag­ing. Frieda be­lieves that this is one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of Scots Ra­dio and, for many peo­ple, one that evokes per­sonal mem­o­ries.

‘When I went to school you were pun­ished if you spoke in the lan­guage of your fam­ily and failed to speak “prop­erly”,’ she says. ‘The mes­sage

When I went to school you were pun­ished if you spoke in the lan­guage of your fam­ily

com­ing through was that the way my par­ents spoke, the lan­guage of my grand­par­ents, the ac­cents of the peo­ple I loved, was no longer valid or par­tic­u­larly wel­come. This was quite a dif­fi­cult and mixed mes­sage to deal with, es­pe­cially for a child.

‘Then when I pro­gressed to pre­sent­ing work in the me­dia I had to learn “re­ceived pro­nun­ci­a­tion” – this was

At­ti­tudes to us­ing the Scots lan­guage have changed and I feel our nom­i­na­tion recog­nises that change

done in spe­cial train­ing classes in Lon­don at that time. It all pointed to the no­tion that Scots was not ac­cept­able. But grad­u­ally BBC Scot­land changed its at­ti­tude to lo­cal ac­cents.’

When she was eight years old, Frieda suf­fered a head in­jury and ex­pe­ri­enced tem­po­rary blind­ness due to hav­ing ban­dages around her head and eyes. Her grand­fa­ther of­ten took care of her whilst she was off school, tak­ing her by the hand on long walks along the Buchan coast­line.

‘As I couldn’t see all I can re­mem­ber is his voice, his sto­ries and lo­cal tales,’ she says. ‘Lis­ten­ing to him as he de­scribed ev­ery­thing that I couldn’t see, com­forted, en­ter­tained and be­came a part of me. Lo­cal knowl­edge, folk­lore and his­tory are worth pre­serv­ing, but the way it’s ex­pressed, the lan­guage in which these cap­ti­vat­ing tales are wo­ven, is worth pre­serv­ing too. At­ti­tudes to us­ing the Scots lan­guage have changed and I feel our nom­i­na­tion recog­nises that change.’

It’s quickly ap­par­ent that Scots Ra­dio isn’t just a job, it’s a labour of love for the ded­i­cated work of a hand­ful of im­pas­sioned in­di­vid­u­als. Recorded in Ed­in­burgh at B&B stu­dios by Richard Werner, whose ban­ter and per­son­al­ity have be­come a much-loved part of the pro­gramme, it also fea­tures guest ap­pear­ances from folk­lorist and mu­si­cian Steve Byrne.

Nom­i­nated in the Celtic Me­dia Fes­ti­val’s ‘mag­a­zine cat­e­gory’, this small team is up against some global brands

and house­hold names, which is a stag­ger­ing feat in it­self. The other fi­nal­ists in­clude Scot­land’s BBC Ra­dio nan Gaid­heal and North­ern Ire­land’s BBC Ra­dio Ul­ster, as well as Ire­land’s RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta and BBC Wales, all as­pir­ing to be awarded the Fes­ti­val’s ‘Torc’ Award for Ex­cel­lence.

Scots Ra­dio has a lot of peo­ple root­ing for it, not least The Scots Lan­guage Cen­tre and Cre­ative Scot- land. As Ken­neth Fowler, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Cre­ative Scot­land, says: ‘We are de­lighted that Scots Ra­dio has been nom­i­nated in the Celtic Me­dia awards. As we state in our Scots Lan­guage Pol­icy, “we tak tent that the Scots lan­guage is an in­ner­maist pairt o Scot­lan’s iden­ti­tie an cul­ture” and we will “forder oor wurk tae heize up an de­velop Scots lan­guage”. Our fund­ing sup­port for Scots Ra­dio forms

Scots Ra­dio re­mains the only place in the me­dia where Scots can be heard reg­u­larly, in all its di­alect and re­gional va­ri­eties

an im­por­tant part of that work and it’s great that their role in cham­pi­oning Scots, rais­ing aware­ness of the lan­guage, while en­ter­tain­ing and in­form­ing at the same time, is be­ing recog­nised in this way.’

Au­thor and poet James Robert­son adds that: ‘Scots Ra­dio re­mains the only place in the me­dia where Scots can be heard reg­u­larly, in all its di­alect and re­gional va­ri­eties, fea­tur­ing ur­ban and ru­ral speak­ers dis­cussing a whole range of sub­jects across daily life. Frieda Mor­ri­son and her col­leagues give the lie to the no­tion that Scots in the me­dia is only fit for fit­baw and com­edy – al­though that is not to say that

Scots Ra­dio con­tin­ues to be an oral-au­ral cel­e­bra­tion of the Scots tongue and as such is both a de­light and a ne­ces­sity

there isn’t plenty of hu­mour in the pro­grammes. Scots Ra­dio con­tin­ues to be an oral-au­ral cel­e­bra­tion of the Scots tongue and as such is both a de­light and a ne­ces­sity – a rare ex­am­ple of the Scots lan­guage be­ing given its right­ful place in our me­dia.’

Frieda was in Dou­glas on the Isle of Man for the 38th Celtic Me­dia Fes­ti­val which took place on 3-5 May 2017. Al­though Scots Ra­dio did not win, get­ting there was a huge achieve­ment. As Frieda said: ‘We have been judged by a Scot­tish jury and an In­ter­na­tional jury - on be­half o the Scots Ra­dio team, thank-you tae oor lis­ten­ers and con­trib­u­tors for their sup­port.’

Image: Well-known broad­caster Frieda Mor­ri­son pre­sents and pro­duces Scots Ra­dio.

Left: Ac­claimed tra­di­tional singer-song­writer Steve Byrne is a reg­u­lar on Scots Ra­dio. Be­low: So too is the much-loved Richard Werner.

Image: Guests from Episode 34 (l-r): Kyle Steel, Mairi McFadyen, Rachael Gil­lan.

Image: Frieda with Kevin McKidd, who plays the min­is­ter in the film ver­sion of Lewis Gras­sic Gib­bon’s Sun­setSong.

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