Pioneer of Midlothian community radio dies

John Ritchie was a scholar of history. Picture: Greg Macvean
John Ritchie was a scholar of history. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A BROADCASTER and author who was the driving force behind a community radio station has died.

John Ritchie was chief executive of Newtongrange-based Black Diamond FM since its launch ten years ago.

The father-of-one, who was among the presenters on the radio station, also chaired the board of Midlothian Community Media Association, the parent company of Black Diamond.

Mr Ritchie died on Saturday, aged 67.

A former Reuters cameraman and documentary producer, he was well known in the Midlothian community.

The Roslin-born history enthusiast co-wrote several books about the famous chapel near his home.

He and Alan Butler wrote Rosslyn Revealed: A Library in Stone and Roslyn Decoded, which focused on different elements of Rosslyn Chapel’s fascinating past.

He was also secretary of the Midlothian Federation of Community Councils as a member of Gorebridge Community Council.

In a tribute on the Black Diamond website, the board of MCMA said Mr Ritchie would be greatly missed.

It said: “As a journalist, editor and author, he brought a wide range of contacts and considerable experience into the development of one of the first stations in the UK to receive a community radio licence.

“John brought his missionary zeal in support of community radio, not only to Midlothian but further afield in his work with others to establish a credible Scottish Community Broadcasting Network (SCBN).

“At times John ruffled feathers when officialdom seemed to obstruct our plans but he will be remembered as providing strong leadership in ensuring that Black Diamond FM has not only survived but prospered into a station that provides not only entertainment and information but has helped improve community cohesion.

“The continuation of the station will be one of his many legacies and a tribute to his work over the last ten years. Our thoughts are with his wife Catriona and daughter Hynde.”

SCBN chairman Alex Gray also paid tribute to Mr Ritchie, who was a founding member and acting chairman of SCBN before Mr Gray took the post.

He said: “He was never slow to come forward on what he thought on things, which I enjoyed very much. He would always make his point forcefully. He was a very rounded character – he came up with things from different angles that other people wouldn’t expect.

“He was quite an influence within discussions in the network. He will be greatly missed. I certainly will miss him.”

Mr Gray said Mr Ritchie’s death had come as a shock.

He added: “We only meet up every couple of months in Edinburgh and Glasgow. When I last saw him he appeared to be hale and hearty.”