AN online radio station that has recorded more than 1.8 million web hits from listeners around the world has won a long-fought campaign for a permanent home on the wireless.
East Coast FM today began life as a commercial radio station after being granted a full licence by broadcast regulator Ofcom.
Bosses at the community station, based in Haddington, earned the licence to air on 87.7FM following two years of high-level talks and now believe they are primed to poach listeners from established broadcasters in the region.
Their campaign for an FM frequency won support from influential backers including East Lothian Council and county MP Fiona O’Donnell.
Station chairman Ian Robertson said: “We’re going to reach a much bigger audience.
“Being internet-based did have its harnesses, now that harness is going to be taken off us and people will be able to listen to us on their car radios.
“Now that we are on air, we’ll be able to keep the community informed – we want more of the public to be able to hear us.
And he emphasised the station’s community credentials. “We’ve got kids from the high schools doing their own shows with people of all ages and backgrounds taking part,” he said.
In the wake of their online success, Mr Robertson refused to speculate on what height their audiences figures could reach but stressed the station would remain focussed on reporting life in East Lothian.
“There’s hardly an event in the county that we do not go and attend and report from – we are here for the community and Radio Forth has too big an area to do that.
“I hope we will take a lot of listeners away from them and bring [those listeners] under our umbrella. Having worked on other radio stations, I know what not to do.
“At East Coast FM we let everyone have the freedom to express themselves. Not one person working for East Coast FM gets paid,” he said.
The new station – which receives no public funding and boasts a staff of 63 volunteers – costs £800 a month to run, which is met by fundraising and commercial advertising from local businesses.
It will broadcast on air from 8pm to midnight every day.
East Lothian MP Fiona O’Donnell, who lobbied Ofcom on behalf of the station, said: “This has been a long, drawn-out process for all the volunteers at East Coast FM.
“I know how hard they have had to work. Today that work paid off. It is great news that we know have a local radio station broadcasting on FM.”