Edinburgh's Radio Telstar returns to airwaves after 30 years

A PIRATE radio station which launched the career of Radio 1 star Mark Goodier has returned to the airwaves more than 30 years after it was forced to close.

Wednesday, 30th March 2016, 11:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2016, 11:12 am
Radio Telstar broadcasting from Edinburgh in July 1978. From left, Iain Swanston, Tom Wilson and Caroline Allen. Picture: Denis Straughan

Radio Telstar, which was originally set up in 1977 by 18-year-old Iain Swanston, was broadcast across Edinburgh and the Lothians for almost six years before it was closed down after radio authorities became concerned about its growing popularity.

Telstar began in the bedroom of Mr Swanston’s home in Captain’s Drive, Gracemount, before it moved to a portable station in the city.

Some of its presenters made names for themselves, such as Goodier and Radio Forth stars Scott Wilson, Tom Wilson and David Forbes.

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Mr Swanston, 57, who is now broadcasting Telstar from a new studio in Galashiels, said: “We are trying to make the station as similar as we can to what it was before.

“Our priority is quality music and entertainment.

“It was a shame we had to close down, but things were so different in those days, there was a lot of pressure from the radio authorities.

“After two court cases and some fines, I decided to close the station and pursue a licence properly, and it’s taken me 32 years to finally make that happen.”

From a young age Mr Swanston loved to listen to the radio.

His favourite station was Radio Jackie – another pirate station in London.

After acquiring his first radio transmitter, Mr Swanston began Radio Telstar, and it went from strength to strength.

Mr Swanston said: “At that time licences weren’t available from the Home Office, it was just a case of broadcasting and chancing your luck.

“By the early 80s we had really grown in popularity and that’s when radio authorities became concerned.

“After we closed in 1984, I had always intended to start up the station again.

“I’ve always loved radio because it’s a great way for people to communicate without imposing themselves on others.

“For example, when the TV is on, it takes over completely, but when the radio’s on it doesn’t.”

After closing down Telstar, Mr Swanston, who now lives in Galashiels, became a radio and television technician in Edinburgh.

Mr Swanston said he is “proud” of his colleagues who have gone on to become well-known DJs and is hopeful his relaunched station will prove to be as popular as it used to be.

Mr Swanston said: “We already have a number of presenters on board and as time goes on it will expand.”