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TWO LOCHS RADIO
The Smallest Community Radio Station
STORMY WEATHER!
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SOS !  STORMY WEATHER HITS VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY RADIO STATION

In January 2005 Two Lochs Radio was hit by a severe storm that damaged its transmitting equipment.  You can read the story further down this page, but immediately below is an encouraging update:


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STORY UPDATE DECEMBER 2005
Huge lift for tiny radio station  -  Press release from Two Lochs Radio :

Britain’s smallest local radio station, Two Lochs Radio in Wester Ross, is on the final stretch of recovering from the hurricane-force storms that devastated its transmitter site in January.  The station serves a large area in Wester Ross, including Gairloch and Loch Ewe, and it was only just over a year old when its main transmitter cabin was destroyed. Miraculously, the mast and aerials, erected entirely by voluntary community effort, survived unscathed, allowing the station to remain on the air from a small transmitter wrapped in tarpaulin, while fundraising to replace the cabin and reinstall the transmitter.


Local businesses and residents were quick off the mark, and have worked hard to raise the funds needed for a more substantial cabin that could withstand the rigours of hilltop conditions, and Highland Council also made a major contribution. But a big problem emerged – how to get the new cabin to the top of the remote hill, which has no track and is too steep for carrying up the large cabin. The original building was taken up in pieces and assembled on the hill top, but for durability the new cabin is a one-piece unit weighing about half-a-ton.

It seemed the only answer would be a helicopter lift, but the cost of a helicopter operation looked set to delay the operation into another winter, until a major Highland company stepped into the breech. Inverness-based Tulloch Group heard of the small station’s plight, and offered to pay for a helicopter lift before the winter weather could cause yet more problems. The flight went ahead last weekend when Specialist Helicopters of Inverness provided the lift, taking just a few minutes to pick up the cabin and place it precisely in position on the hill..

David Sutherland, Executive Chairman of Tulloch Ltd, said "We heard of the difficulties of this small and special radio station where the community has worked hard to help itself, and we were pleased to be able to provide the final boost to its efforts."

Chairman of Two Lochs Radio, Alex Gray, said " We didn’t think the transmission equipment could have survived the winter protected only by a tarpaulin, so Tulloch’s generous offer was very timely. We have plenty more work ahead of us to get everything back into shape, but this has been a major boost, and will let us move forwards independent of the weather."

Mr Gray added that the station was celebrating its second birthday on the air this week, and was very grateful to everyone in the local area who had worked so hard to raise funds for the new cabin, and thanked Tulloch Ltd for their generous help.

-- ENDS --

Notes for Editors :

Two Lochs Radio is operated by a not-for-profit community company, Wester Ross Radio Ltd, and is the smallest independent local radio station licensed in the UK. It serves a remote area of Wester Ross as large as Glasgow, but with a population of under 3,000.

The station has an open-door policy for the local community, and its presenters are all unpaid volunteers, ranging in age from 8 years to 80 years. It has forged strong links with local schools and residential home for the elderly, and is currently equipping itself to handle outside broadcasts from outlying settlements and field events across the area.

A year ago the station won a Community Business of the Year award, presented in Edinburgh by HRH Prince Charles. It also produces locally-based programmes in Gaelic, and has won other awards for the quality of its programming.

Attached picture shows the helicopter lift in progress, as the cabin is landed in its new position.  Further photos, including the original wreckage and higher resolutions available on request.

For more information, contact Chairman and Station Manager, Alex Gray. Two Lochs Radio, Gairloch, IV21 2LR. Telephone 01445 712106


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SOS !  STORMY WEATHER HITS VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY RADIO STATION


RÈIDIO DÀ LOCHA - 106 & 106.6 FM

Studio


TWO LOCHS RADIO is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, local commercial radio station in Scotland.  The station is based in Gairloch and transmits community-based programmes to a large but sparsely populated area including Loch Ewe.


Area Map
'Multimap' Map Showing Location Of Gairloch

Gairloch Map
'Mapquest' Map Showing Two Lochs Radio Transmission Area

Aerials
The Transmission Aerials

The station is manned by volunteers who provide daily programmes consisting of a breakfast show, and afternoon and specialist evening programms.  At other times the station takes relays from satellite radio services.


SOS  -  HELP !     THE STORMS STRIKE!

Coverage Map

RadioMobile Pixel Plot showing the coverage from the two Two Lochs Radio transmitters


THE STORM

In January 2005 storms hit many parts of the UK and the West of Scotland was particularly badly hit.   Power was lost in many areas, as was the case in Gairloch.  When power returned the Two Lochs Radio transmitters came back on air and all seemed well.  However when inspecting the aftermath the staff found that, although the transmitter masts were still standing, there was other damage; The equipment cabin that holds the transmitter  electronics was flattened and blown sideways, exposing the delicate electronics to the elements.  To its credit the transmitter was still functioning and sending out Two Lochs Radio on FM.

SBS (the transmitter makers) have been very quick to offer temporary equipment while the soaked equipment is being cleaned up and serviced.  There is an urgent need to make some sort of weather-proof temporary housing to hold the loan gear before we accept that offer. 

For now the site has been made completely secure again and protected from the elements, and until new equipment is installed the transmitter is working on pre-amplifier output only, which provides 30W erp (instead of the usual 600W), and the coverage isn't too bad.


The headache is that this volunteer station had to find the funds to build a stronger building that will protect their expensive equipment from severe weather in the future.

The photographs below clearly show that the original equipment cabinet was not up to the job of protecting against violent winter storms!


Photo1
Although The Mast Was Unaffected, The Equipment Cabin Was Almost Blown Away!

Photo 2
The Wind Came From The Right And Crushed The Equipment Hut

Photo 3
The Broken Cabin - The Equipment Is Still Transmitting Signals!

Two Lochs Radio sent this e-mail out:


"Friends of Two Lochs Radio,

I guess several of you receiving this were also hit by the hurricane winds that swept the north-west last week, but I sincerely hope they didn't have the effect on you that they had on Two Lochs Radio - our transmitter site did not escape lightly, as the attached pictures show.

We were without power for a couple of days, and when the power came back, our transmitter came back on the air as if nothing had happened - or so we thought. Then yesterday we ventured up the hill to take a look at how the cabin had fared in the breeze. This seemed only prudent, after all, four trawlers were sunk in the harbour on the same night! We expected significant damage to the cabin, but not what greeted us.

Abbey was first over the crest of the hill, and she called back a slight understatement of the situation as "it doesn't look too good". 

The cabin had been blown down sideways and ripped apart by the 120+ mph wind gusts that lasted through the night, and it probably remained on the hillside only by virtue of the heavy equipment rack inside and the way we had bolted it to the ground and tied it to posts.

Amazingly, the aerials, cables and mast were undamaged and, as I said, the transmitter came back up immediately power was re-applied. However, one amplifier is out of action, and we are running on reduced output power. There is a lot of mud and water all over the unit, but it's mostly superficial.

The transmitter continues to run after 72 hours in the position you see in the pictures, although we have arranged some polythene sheeting to reduce the amount of rain it gets, and will secure it further this weekend. We are trying to work out what to do about temporary housing, type of replacement cabin, where we will find the money etc.

We don't know how well it will keep running while we regroup and work out some serious fundraising etc to build a more substantial building to contain it. Local businesses are very keen to help us recover with offers of help and support, and one has already put out collecting boxes, but there'll be a long way to go.

Yours, somewhat distracted, but impressed by the robustness of the transmitter kit and the power of the wind!

Alex Gray
Two Lochs Radio"



New Cabin

As the press release at the top of this page explains,  Local businesses and residents were quick off the mark, and worked hard to raise the funds needed for a more substantial cabin that could withstand the rigours of hilltop conditions, and Highland Council also made a major contribution. The problem of how to get the new cabin, which weighed about half a ton, to the top of the remote hill, which has no track and is too steep for carrying up the large cabin, was solved with the generous help of Inverness-based Tulloch Group.  Tulloch Group heard of the station’s plight, and offered to pay for a helicopter lift before the winter weather could cause yet more problems. The flight went ahead last weekend when Specialist Helicopters of Inverness provided the lift, taking just a few minutes to pick up the cabin and place it precisely in position on the hill.

David Sutherland, Executive Chairman of Tulloch Ltd, said "We heard of the difficulties of this small and special radio station where the community has worked hard to help itself, and we were pleased to be able to provide the final boost to its efforts."

Chairman of Two Lochs Radio, Alex Gray, said " We didn’t think the transmission equipment could have survived the winter protected only by a tarpaulin, so Tulloch’s generous offer was very timely. We have plenty more work ahead of us to get everything back into shape, but this has been a major boost, and will let us move forwards independent of the weather."

Mr Gray added that the station was celebrating its second birthday on the air this week, and was very grateful to everyone in the local area who had worked so hard to raise funds for the new cabin, and thanked Tulloch Ltd for their generous help.

Well done one and all!!

Mast

Two Lochs Radio Mast




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