BRAVE days for Radio Scotland, with audience figures on an upward

trend, and a haul of three first prizes at this week Sony Radio Awards

ceremony in London, including the title of ''National Station of the

Year''; in fact, it was a fine day for Scottish radio generally, with

Clyde 2 taking the Metropolitan Station of the Year award for the second

year running. Of course, like most media awards, the Sonys have to be

taken with a small pinch of salt. In categories like ''Best Drama'' --

won this year by Radio 3 and Basilisk Productions

for the remarkable soundtrack of Derek Jarman's film Blue, although

Radio Scotland's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde took an honourable bronze -- the

judges can just about listen to all the major candidates, and make an

independent assessment of them. But when it comes to ''sequence''

programmes and whole networks, the decision is necessarily based on

taped highlights and selective impressions; so that a mixture of skilful

spin-doctoring, fashion, gossip, and ''Buggins' turn'' tends to prevail.

Yet James Boyle's award for the new style Radio Scotland is pretty

well deserved. Love or hate the changes he has made, it is undeniable

that the network now has a sharper, more purposeful, more tightly-edited

feel than for many years, and its 25% increase in audience share must

make it the most upwardly-mobile of all the surviving BBC networks, at a

time of general retreat in the face of growing commercial competition.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether that upswing can survive the

departure of the ghastly but compelling Eddie Mair Live, which won the

''Best Speech-base Breakfast Show'' award for the programme broadcast on

the July 1, 1993, and must be one of the most talked-about programmes

ever generated by Radio Scotland. But I particularly like the way in

which Boyle, having made his changes, is now allowing them to settle and

bed down, so that broadcasters can breathe, feel secure, begin to expand

into their new roles. Making changes is one thing, and there are plenty

of bad-to-indifferent BBC controllers who do little else. Sticking with

your decisions is a different, rarer skill.

Radio Scotland's third ''gold'' award went to the young Scottish

actress Wendy Seager, who was named ''Best Actress'' for her outstanding

performance in a heart-rending play called The Life Class -- written by

Colin Douglas and Hugh Quinn, directed by Hamish Wilson, and broadcast

on Radio 4 last summer -- about the friendship between two bright

teenagers, pupils at the same middle-class Edinburgh school, who first

meet in the waiting-room of the local cancer clinic, and accompany one

another right to the gates of death, laughing and reminiscing and

occasionally weeping together, rounding off their lives -- in the

strange, telescoped timescale of

terminal illness -- as thoroughly as if they had lived to be 80. It's

unfortunate, though, that this play, like so many others produced in

Edinburgh by Radio Scotland drama, has never -- so far as I know -- been

heard on Radio Scotland, although it is shot through with Scottish

talent, Scottish cultural references, and hard-hitting Scottish insights

into the deficiencies of our medical culture in dealing with death;

strange that a nation with a BBC ''national network'' of its own, and a

fine BBC drama department based here, so rarely brings the two together.

Meanwhile, though, Scottish actors increasingly make their voices

heard in the general drama output; this week alone, there was Maureen

Beattie making her brave best of the leading role in a strange,

irritating Monday play on Radio 4, an anachronistic medieval-feminist

drama called Gabrielle and the Angels; and Joe Dunlop, playing the white

husband and father of a mixed-race Scottish-London-South African family

in Wednesday's experimental afternoon play, Election Lives, improvised,

recorded, and transmitted almost live to mark South Africa's historic

election day. The central mixed-race couple have three sons, neatly

categorised as the rebellious one, the ambitious one trying to conform

in Major's Britain, and the one in South Africa, phoning in live reports

(genuinely telephoned in by an actor in Johannesburg) from the electoral

front line. But I loved it for its sheer topical energy, for the clarity

of Matthew Solon's basic storyline, for its frank approach to the issue

of race, and for Juanita Ageh's unforgettable performance as the

matriarch Ruth, longing to return to the country from which she was

exiled so long ago, but afraid of splitting her family.