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Station 5SC

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Station 5SC was the call sign of the first BBC radio station to broadcast from Glasgow.

On 6 March 1923, station 5SC, part of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), started broadcasting from an attic in Rex House at number 202 Bath St. This was 29 years before the first television broadcast in Scotland.

In time, this small space would house an orchestra, pipe band, choir, and actors as news, current affairs, entertainment, and religious addresses were broadcast to homes throughout the city.

Glasgow was chosen by Lord Reith as the first place in Scotland to set up a dedicated broadcasting space thanks to the size of potential audience reach, and as the station expanded, the attic space would soon be swapped for Blythswood Square and then West George Street.

Subsequently BBC Scotland moved to its well remembered location of North Park House on Queen Margaret Drive in 1935, where it would remain for a staggering 82 years.

On this site, chosen, apparently for its proximity to nearby tennis courts and bowling greens (which it would soon swallow up), the complex cemented itself as the main broadcasting centre for the whole of Scotland.

Soon, however, TV broadcasts were to replace radio broadcasts as favoured among the Glasgow public to gain access to news, current affairs and the like, while radio continued to operate, leaning more towards serving a role focusing more on music and entertainment. And with that, in 1965 Glaswegians received the first “pirate” broadcast by Radio Scotland at 11:50pm on Hogmanay.

The station transmitted from the ship The Comet, a sixty year old engine-less former Irish lightship which, as you may expect, was built on the Clyde.

Stationed four miles off Dunbar, the first voice heard on the station was that of Paul Young, a former presenter of Scottish Television’s Roundup programme, who was famous for interviewing The Beatles when they visited Glasgow in 1964.

Offering a much less formal approach than that of the BBC to draw in listeners with the likes of sound effects and recipes, it gained a loyal following. One of the early DJs was a Glasgow bus driver called Charlie Whyte, who, as the story goes, didn’t get on to well with his colleagues. Signed on the strength of his mammoth record collection, the publicity surrounding his arrival apparently went to his head and he was torpedoed back to his Glasgow bus after six weeks.

Radio Scotland closed at midnight on 14th August 1967, with the final programmes pre-recorded from an on land studio in Glasgow, where, to mark the death of the station, most of the DJs held a closing down ball alongside 2000 fans in the city.


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