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Radio Six Pops Up Again on Shortwave

Tony Currie says monthly broadcasts are favorably received

Tony Currie of Radio Six International
Tony Currie

Radio Six International has not been a full-time shortwave broadcaster for some time. But after two recent live broadcasts on 6070 kHz prompted by the pandemic, it says it will continue monthly broadcasts at least for now.

Radio World visited electronically with Tony Currie.

Radio Six International Live music session
Live music session

RW: Is this a new offering? What has been the response to it?

Tony Currie: We thought that during the COVID epidemic it might be nice to reach out to our former shortwave listeners; and after the first live show in June, which had many emails while we were on the air and letters afterwards, we thought we’d give a monthly show a try, at least until the pandemic is over. If that’s ever the case.

Radio World: For those who don’t know, what is Radio Six International?

Currie: An international station based in Scotland, with regular listeners in 201 countries.

It began as a schoolkids’ hobby way back in 1963 and never quite went away. It expanded to provide a wired service to neighbors and a care home next door … then started making a few syndicated programs, first for a station in Dubai, then KPFK in Los Angeles.

Radio Six International publishes a monthly newsletter, here with Thea Newcomb on the cover. (You can read it here.)

Then it turned into a place where professionals could play and try out new ideas. Then in 1985 it was the first commercial cable radio network in Europe … made syndicated programs for all sorts of stations including the BBC and Ukrainian state radio … and in 2000 launched a 24-hour service on cable, where it has remained ever since.

We are noncommercial and not-for-profit; I fund the operation. The station is run by a small team of professionals for the fun of it and the joy of radio, rather than as a money making exercise.

We play unsigned and indie music with live sessions and a fantastic team of very experienced specialist music professionals including John Cavanagh, Kenny Tosh, Ewan Spence, Todd Gordon, David Belcher, Thea Newcomb, Susan Fisher and Denis and Rose Blackham, as well as myself.

RW: On what platforms is it heard, and where?

Currie: Online at 24 hours a day (mp3, Ogg and AAC+ streams). Via World FM in New Zealand daily simulcasts (1 hour a day weekdays and between four and six hours on weekends); simulcasts on PCJ FM in Taiwan for four hours at weekends, plus syndicated to 58 AM/FM/digital stations in the UK, Australia, USA, and Singapore. [Find more about tuning in.]

RW: Where are the studios and where are the transmission facilities?

Radio Six International building with sheep around the door
Disgruntled listeners crowd the door to the studio in Glasgow.

Currie: Main studio and playout center are in Glasgow, Scotland, and a brand-new facility on the Isle of Lismore in Scotland. The shortwave transmitter is at Rohrbach, Germany.

We also use studios in Edinburgh and London and have broadcast programs from Washington; Los Angeles; Reykjavik in Iceland; Sydney, Australia; and many live location broadcasts including one from a former pirate radio ship at sea, which was broadcast live on shortwave.

RW: What role does shortwave play in your overall strategy?

Currie: It’s a bonus — our main outlet is the internet, followed by syndication, but it’s nice to broadcast live to people who still use analog radio sets.

We launched on shortwave in December 2003 with monthly programs, and for a period from August 2004 until July 2005 we were broadcasting on shortwave daily, followed by weekly transmissions until the end of 2008.

Since then there have been a few sporadic shortwave broadcasts.

RW: What impact has COVID-19 had on your own operations?

Currie: None at all

RW: You mentioned that you’ve had interest in QSL cards, what should readers know about that?

Currie: We are always delighted to receive reception reports, and send an e-card free of charge or a printed QSL card on receipt of a dollar or euro. Email [email protected] for an e-card or write to Radio Six International, 21 Sherbrooke Avenue, Glasgow G41 4HF, Scotland for a printed card and a free copy of our program schedule.

Update to this article as of Aug. 12:

Currie writes, “Our planned shortwave broadcast on 1st August didn’t happen because the link between Glasgow and Rohrbach failed at the last minute. We were very disappointed not to be able to reach our shortwave fans, although the show was broadcast on FM in New Zealand and of course it was online so we still picked up listeners in a number of the 201 countries that our online service reaches.” Currie said the next scheduled broadcast is Sept. 5 at 22:00 UTC.