There is a group of music lovers in Glasgow determined to broadcast Celtic Connections to a worldwide audience – and if you pass Door 10 of the city’s Royal Concert Hall this week you will see them in action.

Unpaid, dedicated, determined and enthusiastic, they are presenters for Glasgow-based Celtic Music Radio, assisted by a technical team, who will complete about 140 hours of live programmes during the course of Celtic Connections, the community station’s biggest outside broadcast commitment of the year.

All 15 people at the microphone for shows are volunteers and so is the back-up crew that ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

The charity-status station, which relies on sponsorship, donations and advertising, is on air 365 days a year but for Connections it is working from four live stages – two in the Royal Concert Hall and one in the studios in Kinning Park. Every lunchtime last week, it broadcast the Connections On Campus show live from Glasgow Caledonian University.

This year Celtic Music Radio will also broadcast live from The Spree in Paisley, the Glasgow Canal Festival, and St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Merchant Square.

A network of cables and radio links between rooftops connects the festival to the station studios and to the transmitter that sits on top of a tower block in the city centre to make it all happen.

Bruce Rodger, one of the station’s technical experts, is proud of the scale 
of the operations.

“We arrived one year to set up for a fortnight’s broadcasting with our kit 
in the boot of a car, whereas the BBC drove up with a truck that was too big for the car park,” he said. 

“We are a community radio outfit run by volunteers, so we make use of whatever resources we can lay our hands on. Much of our IT and audio gear has been donated and we take computers and equipment that the corporate world is getting rid of, and refurbish and recycle them to deliver our service.

“The Concert Hall staff offer great help, so we’re extremely grateful for that.”

Andy Hood, another key technical member, said making sure things run 
as smoothly as possible in such a big operation is a priority, but problems do flare up.

“One day last week, the computer system in the studios at Kinning Park crashed,” he said. “One minute we were on air from the Concert Hall, the next we weren’t, so monitoring for incidents like that with a shoestring budget can prove challenging.”

Celtic Music Radio also shares its broadcasts with other stations such as Dunoon Community Radio.

Veteran broadcaster Gordon Hotchkiss, board director at the station, is on presenting duties most days during Celtic Connections from the Concert Hall.

He said: “There is definitely a different buzz broadcasting here, at the very heart of the festival.”

“Usually, I am presenting alone in a studio so for these two weeks we can enjoy the interaction with people who stop for a chat and give us feedback.
“It is good for Celtic Music Radio’s profile and being so involved with such a major event is great kudos for us too.”

A major part of the live programming centres on the Danny Kyle Open Stage, now in its 21st year, which is held in the Exhibition Hall at the Concert Hall. 

Producer and presenter Liz Clark, also a board director, said: “The station has been broadcasting the Danny Kyle Open Stage since 2006 and is this year’s media partner. It’s a boost for the acts to be heard live by a worldwide audience and the station’s ‘listen again’ service means they can download performances for PR purposes.

“The station’s live coverage is a valued part of Celtic Connections.”

One of the newest presenters is Bishopbriggs singer-songwriter Kara Conway, who will be hosting her first show from the Concert Hall for the first time today.

“The volunteers at the station make it a very friendly music community and they have been so helpful,” she said. “It’s a great learning experience and a lot of fun to play music and chat on air.”

Glasgow-based singer/songwriter, Findlay Napier, a guest on a programme last week, is a fan of community radio.

“I enjoyed the interview because local radio gives you time to stretch out for a real chat and a good conversation,” said Napier, who is performing songs from his latest project, The Ledger, in the Concert Hall this Thursday.

“These interviews do help boost CD and gig ticket sales and community radio also uses social media very well to let artists know their songs have been played. Stations run by volunteers give many people like me exposure that commercial radio won’t, so that’s very welcome.”

Celtic Connections creative producer Donald Shaw said the team’s efforts have become “integral”.

“Its mission to support new musical talent and be a strong voice for contemporary and traditional Scottish music, arts and culture chimes with the Celtic Connections ethos,” he said.

“Through its website, Celtic Music Radio reaches music fans around the world, as well as those in Scotland, which fits well with our aim of linking cultures and communities through Celtic music.

“I love the fact it is here on-site for the duration of the festival, absorbing the atmosphere and broadcasting it live over the airwaves, both to those who can’t attend and to those who are enjoying various events, but want to stay in touch with what’s happening across the full 18 days and nights of Celtic Connections.”