A Decade on the Airwaves

Dawn Jamison of Irvine Beat FM talks to Ayrshire Magazine

by Iain Ferguson

Irvine Beat FM, the community radio station serving Irvine and the surrounding area, celebrates its 10th anniversary in August and continues to provide a mix of most genres of music and community involvement.

Dawn Jamison, who is also Finance Director, is one of several presenters who has been there since day one on August 12, 2013 and she takes up the story of the successful station.

She said: “Before we obtained our community radio licence back in 2013 we did three test transmissions of a month each time in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and then in August 2013 we were granted a full-time licence as a community radio.

“We’ve had two five-year extensions since then and it’s onwards and upwards and that’s down to a lot of hard work in between.”

The remit of the licence includes that Irvine Beat focusses on health and well-being.

Explaining what that entails Dawn explained: “Our remit from Ofcom was granted under these conditions so we have to tailor our output to contain segments that pertain to health and well-being, so we have slots called Community Matters and Word On Health… someone discussing a different health condition. It’s about getting information out to people who might otherwise not be able to access that information.

“We also have a Sunday religious slot called Soul Sunday with Father Willie Boyd and the Reverend Neil Urquhart. Their mission over the last few years has been to show that a priest and a minister can get along swimmingly.

“Charity groups can come in and record a wee segment. We had Ayrshire Hospice in recently and any community group or charity who have something coming up are welcome to come on and highlight it. We’ll bring them in for interview or record a wee segment.”

Irvine Beat has a dedicated team of 28 presenters, a few of whom like Dawn have been there since the start ten years ago.

Dawn said: “I do two breakfast shows on a Monday and Tuesday and I do a new country show which is my specialist genre. A lot of our volunteers have been with us for many years.

“The presenters tend to stay with us but it is a big commitment so some come and go. I didn’t have any experience when I first started. It coincided with the time that West Sound was closing and there were a few West Sound presenters that came here. Jack Benny trained me and told me to speak as if I was speaking to one person.

“We cover all types of music and receive very good feedback. We play country, rock, soul, blues, music down the decades, and still have a ceilidh which is very popular.

“The station is run by a board of directors. We used to have a manned office but when lockdown came we had to shut down the office. We were really, really lucky during lockdown because a lot of us have our own equipment at home. My partner, Steve Hyde, who is chairman, also does the Breakfast Show and has a rock show and we have our own wee studio upstairs. We were able to keep the station going right through lockdown although we couldn’t get into the studio. It was quite something.”

Irvine Beat FM covers the Irvine area including Fullarton, Harbourside, Redburn, Vineburgh and Castlepark and has a potential audience of around 20,000.

Ten years on and Dawn and the team are filling the airwaves with lots of good music and doing their bit for the local community and charities. Here’s to the next ten years.