Sunday, 16 December 2007

FUSE FM IN THE TOON!

On Saturday 1st December, fUSe FM began a two-week broadcast in Ballymoney, operating from the Orange Hall in High Street. The Ulster Scots Agency sponsored radio station proved to be a massive hit in the Toon with a record response from listeners. Although the temporary station did not have a telephone facility, listeners were able to text the presenters and by the end of the 14 day period, the total number of texts recieved amounted to just less than 3000! Although the organisers were hopeful that the station would be a success, no one could have predicted the resounding success it became.

The shows ran daily from 8:ooam until past midnight and each show was staffed by local volunteers from the Ulster Scots community. Pre recorded interviews featuring Ulster Scots speaker Marbeth Templeton and the pupils of Armoy and Ballymoney Model primary schools were aired as well as an interview with local author and historian, Robert Thompson. Live interviews of local bands and band members were also aired and special guests included Charlie Reynolds, Charlie Gillen, Darwin Templeton (News Letter editor), Dr Ian Adamson (former Lord Mayor of Belfast, author and historian), Wilson Burgess (poet & author), George Patton and Michael McCullough (Ulster Scots Agency) and Mark Thompson (Chairman of Boord o tha Ulster Scotch).

As well as conventional music, listeners were treated to Scots and traditional music with a Country Show hosted by Jim Doherty. Prior to the commencement of the fortnight's airtime, presenter Anne Smyth said we would be unearthing and promoting local talent in an interview with Kist o Wurds and this was realised both in the promotion of local singer Alistair Coyles and during the country show.

A huge thanks must go to Anne, Noel Anderson, Louise Watson, Peter Baird, Jimmy The Beard Henry and Adam Stubbles Mark for the deication they gave to bringing such enjoyment to the folk o the Toon. We are also very very grateful to Andy Mattison for his exceptional zeal in travelling from his Co Down home daily to take part in the project.

Businesses played the station in shops, bars, the local hotel and throughout the town and hinterland. A charity drive launched by the fUSe team realised a total of £1100 in only ten days. This sum was divided equally between Click Sargant and the NI Children's Hospice at a cheque presentation on the last day of broadcasting.

Secretary of the local Kingdom of Dalriada Ulster Scots Society, Gary Blair, said: "The response to the project has taken us all by surprise. During the last week a huge number of texts were seeking us to bring a full time Ulster Scots radio station to the Toon and the greater North Antrim area. Although this seems like an uphill struggle, we believe the demand is there and, to avoid discriminating against the Ulster Scots community, I think such a licence should be granted as soon as possible. The momentum is there, the will is there and the support base is there. I hope those in a position to grant a licence will do so. Ballymoney has largely been neglected by big name stores and has been squeezed between Ballymena and Coleraine but something like this could benefit local trade, tourism and, above all, give hope to the local community who have been the salt of the earth in terms of supporting the project. We intend to return that support by doing everything we can to bring a cultural station to the Toon and north Antrim".

The good people of Ballymoney did us all proud and the presenters named above did the Toon proud. On behalf of the Ulster Scots community, we thank you all.

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