Iain’s switched on for his radio return

Pirate radio stalwart Iain Swanston is back after 30 years. Picture: comp
Pirate radio stalwart Iain Swanston is back after 30 years. Picture: comp
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One of the city’s top pirate radio DJs is set to return to the airwaves for the first time in 
30 years.

Ever since he was little, Iain Swanston wanted to be on radio. Growing up at the dawn of Britain’s iconic pirate radio movement, he was enthralled by rock music from an early age.

Influenced by Edinburgh’s renowned Radio Caroline station, Iain had already worked his way on to the airwaves by age ten, using a makeshift radio studio he’d constructed in his bedroom.

By the time Iain hit 15, he was broadcasting to his neighbours with a very small FM radio transmitter – but when Iain finished school, he decided to pull out the big guns.

Acquiring a Medium Wave transmitter from London pirate radio station Radio Jackie, Iain returned north of the Border and launched his very own unauthorised station.

On his new station, Radio Telstar, Iain adopted the on-air name Brian Scott, and conducted regular weekend and Bank Holiday broadcasts that kept the Lothians rocking into the small hours of the night.

But after the UK Government started to tighten its grip on the airwaves, the local favourite decided to call it quits.

By 1984, fellow presenters went on to work for legal stations, whilst main man Iain decided to hang up his microphone.

But after 30 years of static, Iain says he’s finally ready to dust off his headset and rejoin the brave new world of digital radio.

“I actually went on as a guest to talk about the history of pirate radio with some of the presenters on Radio Saltire,” he said.

“And after we got to talking, I thought it might be time to give it another go.”

From October 11, Iain will be hosting his own regular shows with Radio Saltire, a much-lauded East Lothian community radio station.

And whilst he may be slightly out of practice hosting his own show, the 55-year-old said he would feel at home at the new station – which was founded upon the same principles as Radio Telstar.

Radio Saltire sprang to life in 2011 in a small, self-financed studio, and today survives largely on grants from charitable groups and dedicated listeners.

The station is largely volunteer-led, and is a registered charity that helps East Lothian residents pursue stardom on the airwaves.

Yet above all else, Iain is just happy to reintroduce Lothian listeners to the area’s rich radio heritage.

“When you’ve got radio in your bones, it’s very hard to walk away,” he said.

“I’ve hardly been on the air since the station shut down in 1984, and so I’m thrilled to be given another shot.

“I’m just looking forward to speaking on the air again, and introducing people to the old way of doing things.”