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DJ Ally Bally looks back at the glory years of Radio Tay – and tells us why it won hearts, minds and awards

By News

“This is the real Radio Tay.”

These were the first words from Gerry Quinn when Radio Tay launched in Dundee in October 1980 to bring local voices to the airwaves.

The first record he played was The Road and the Miles to Dundee by Andy Stewart.

The studio was constructed in the former TC Keay factory in North Isla Street.

The presenters at its inception included Graham Stuart, Tony Donald, Norma Gamble, Kenny Page and Dick Donnelly, who was the voice of football.

Radio Tay was the third commercial radio station in Scotland.

Presenters from the station became household names, including Mark Goodier who took over the Breakfast Beat from Gerry Quinn in January 1981.

None was more recognisable than a certain Arthur Ballingall from Buckhaven.

Ally Bally’s broadcasting career started in hospital radio in Kirkcaldy and he was a part-time weekend presenter when Radio Tay went on air.

Ally Bally became the biggest name on air

He joined the station full-time as a sales executive in May 1981 after giving up his job with B&Q to pursue a career behind the microphone.

Ally told me: “I had a good job as regional manager for B&Q, a nice house in Leven and a good salary when I jumped ship in May 1981.

“I was paid £12,000 a year and had a company car.

“I went to Radio Tay for £4,000 a year.

“The first thing I did was go out and paint a for-sale sign and stuck it in the garden and bought a cheap house in Forfar and started all over again.

“It was the unknown that was tremendously exciting.

“Commercial radio had arrived in Dundee and I wanted to be part of it.

“I would always have wondered what might have been if I didn’t move on.”

Ally stepped in for Mark Goodier when the Breakfast Show host went on holiday.

Goodier eventually left his breakfast slot in August 1981.

 

Ally landed the show.

The rest is history.

He decided to make it more family-orientated, which doubled listening figures in six months and then trebled them.

He got the kids listening to the show before school with competitions and games.

KT Tunstall was among Ally’s listeners

It was fun and joyous with Ally at breakfast.

Everyone listened.

Just ask KT Tunstall.

Ally attended the Ritz Club in London in 2009 where Dame Shirley Bassey launched a new album that included a track written by the Fife singer.

“Dame Shirley asked me what my favourite song on the album was,” said Ally.

“I picked Nice Men, which was written by KT Tunstall.

“Dame Shirley said she loved that one too but had never met KT.

“I introduced them and Dame Shirley asked her: ‘So you know each other?’

“KT smiled and told her she used to listen to my breakfast show every morning on the school bus from St Andrews to Dundee High School.

“I just thought, oh well, it worked!”

The snow would help boost listening figures

The success was reward for hard work engaging the local community.

For 13 years Ally helmed Radio Tay’s breakfast show, which became the place where parents would find out if a school was closed during bad weather.

“Councils would rely on us to get the message across to parents,” said Ally.

“I used to do a snow dance because I knew the audience figures would be sky-high!

“We were also the only radio station with a direct link to police headquarters.

“They pressed a button and spoke to the presenter when anything happened.

The Tay Talk In on Sunday drew more listeners than every radio station in Scotland combined and we got the show going national.” Ally Bally

“We could warn motorists to avoid the area.”

It was all about engagement.

Tay Action helped organise a club for the deaf, a clean-up of Broughty Ferry beach and a number of other projects for the elderly and for young people.

Caring for Kids raised thousands for disadvantaged children and young people.

The Radio Tay Roadshow was a huge success.

Ally took the show out of the studio, which had never been done before.

In July 1988 he also branched into the nightclub business by running Bally’s in Arbroath, which attracted A-list stars such as Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan.

Ally won the Sony Award for the UK’s best local radio presenter.

Tay Talk In was one of the biggest successes

Later in his career, Ally presented the mid-morning show and hosted the Tay Talk In.

“The Tay Talk In is the one show that most people ask me about,” said Ally.

“Some of the subjects we discussed were amazing and I never knew what they wanted to speak about when they came through.

“One Sunday a woman came on.

“She said she wanted to speak about drug dealers killing her daughter.

“I asked when did it happen – last night, she replied.

“That someone could come on and trust me to tell their story was very powerful.

“There were lots of calls like that.

“The Tay Talk In on Sunday drew more listeners than every radio station in Scotland combined and we got the show going national.

“First ministers were lining up to come on and face the public.”

Ally said the success of Radio Tay was a team effort.

Many careers have been launched from the studio in North Isla Street, including Eddie Mair, James Cook, Martha Fairlie and Saul Sievwright.

When the Spice Girls arrived at Radio Tay

A-list celebrities were always happy to appear on the airwaves, like Dolly Parton, Cliff Richard, Doris Day, Rod Stewart and the Spice Girls.

Posh, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Sporty Spice were interviewed in the studio by John Darroch to promote their debut single – before they were famous.

John went on holiday and when he drove back from the airport the Spice Girls were at No 1 with Wannabe and already at the cusp of mega-stardom.

Radio Tay became part of Bauer Media Group.

Nothing lasts forever.

Ally left the station in 2020.

More programmes started being broadcast from the central belt, before Tay FM and Tay 2 joined the Greatest Hits Radio network.

The Radio Tay building has since closed and been put up for sale.

“I’ve always been an advocate of local radio,” said Ally.

“Local radio works.

“That’s what we have lost in Dundee.

“It’s so sad and I think the area has lost something.

“Hopefully some day it will come back again.

“But maybe that’s progress?”

End of an era when Radio Tay left Dundee

Ally said the people he worked with during the years were brilliant with special mention for the late Kenny Page, whose talent he described as “unbelievable”.

“The station won a lot of awards and it’s a shame that’s been lost,” he said.

“It was a very successful station because it was local.

“We did so much with the community.

“Caring for Kids gave everyone a great sense of achievement.

“We did everything and anything to get people to pledge.

“We took a car across the Tay from Perth to Broughty Ferry to raise money and were plugging the holes with our wet socks while broadcasting.

“Every day was different.

“How do I remember my time there?

“It was just fun.”

 

Source: Graeme Strachan – The Courier

Scottish Car of The Year 2023

By News

Sponsored in collaboration with Macklin Motors, the annual Scottish Car of the Year Awards was held at the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club, nestled on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The evening was filled with excitement and anticipation as we gathered together to celebrate automotive excellence.

The Scottish Car of The Year 2023, held on the esteemed St Andrews Day, unfolded in grandeur. The evening began with a performance from the Stockbridge Pipe Band, invoking the spirit of Scottish tradition. Followed by a speech from Association president, Al Suttie, setting the tone for an evening dedicated to automotive excellence.

Attendees enjoyed a dinner that showcased the flavours of Scotland including a sampling of Haggis. ASMW member Ken Fletcher presented the dish complemented by the enchanting tunes of a piper. Given the auspicious date of the awards on the 30th of November, we made sure to celebrate St Andrews Day in style with the presence of King Robert the Bruce, who bestowed honours upon the guests.

Celebrating the annual SCOTY awards, the ASMW reflects on a remarkable journey marked by a great variety of winners over the years. The association takes great pride in the Scottish Car of the Year Awards, and manufacturers tell us how delighted they are to win a category let alone the main accolade.

The main event unfolded with a total of 17 categories, among which 7 were dedicated to special awards as a further 10 categories progressed to the overall winner vote. This year’s awards saw incredibly close competition, in some categories just a single point determined the winner and the runner-up.

The evening blended tradition, culture, and recognition of outstanding automobiles, creating a memorable milestone in the history of the awards.

Category Winners

Best Small Car: Dacia Duster

Small cars continue to be big news and this segment is larger than ever with a growing number of SUVs entering the scene. The ASMW’s top choice for 2023 is a new version of a previous SCOTY favourite. It’s a car which delivers huge improvements in quality, refinement and style yet retains outstanding value as a core attribute.

Best Family SUV: Renault Austral E-Tech

Family SUVS are undoubtedly where the action is right now and 2023 has seen the segment offer an array of talented machines. The car taking the segment honours this year though wowed the judges with its bold design, attention to detail, lively yet frugal powertrain and overall flair.

Best Family Car: Suzuki Swace

There’s something about the 2023 Family Car of the Year which struck a chord among all the judges. A subtle makeover and a little more power has made all the difference and we love the way this well-packaged and solidly-built family holdall goes about its business quietly and efficiency.

Best Executive/Premium; Lexus RX450h

Quality and reliability is absolutely key to a premium ownership experience and one manufacturer has been delivering this consistently for more than four decades. On top of this, the 2023 Executive Car of the Year boasts an exquisite cabin and a decent turn of speed without hurting at the pumps.

Best Large SUV: Mazda CX-60 Diesel

The winner of this category comes from a manufacturer which has always refused to follow the herd. Think sports saloon dynamics with a huge yet cossetting cabin, 40+mpg economy and a glorious six-cylinder soundtrack. It had to be the Mazda.

Best Performance Car: KIA EV6 GT

2023’s Performance Car favourites this year came in all shapes, sizes and powertrains However our victor is a 577bhp tyre-shredding all-wheel-drive rocketship which delivers lightning-like acceleration, a 162mph headline top speed and shifts its maker straight into the premier league.

Best Utility/4×4: Ford Ranger

Scotland has always been a strong market for tough and capable Utility and 4×4 vehicles. The 2023 shortlist witnessed three of the best battle it out for top honours. Ultimately, one all-new 4×4’s combination of model choice, pricing and mix of on and off-road prowess enabled it to edge ahead of the rest.

Best Small/Mid-size EV: Hyundai Kona Electric

The star of this category is a model which really does everything right and is nicely integrated into its maker’s line-up among a range of petrol and hybrid alternatives. Our champion looks good, has a fabulous interior and offers a choice of trim levels and battery capacities.

Best Hybrid: Suzuki Swace

Bridging the gap between petrol and full-on electrification, there were more hybrid vehicles than ever on the 2023 voting sheet. And it’s impossible not be impressed by our top choice due to the improvements in power delivery, low emission, exceptional real-world economy and high quality but fuss-free cabin environment.

Best Large EV: Hyundai IONIQ 6

In the large EV category, things start to get ultra-competitive. Succeeding here means being top of the charts in a number of areas – design, technology and range just for starters. This year’s winner has it all by the bucketload and triumphed to glory over is peers by a magnificent margin.

Best Used Car Under £15,0000: Mazda MX-5

A limited budget doesn’t have to mean limited fun, as our category winner proves. With four generations to choose from, there’s a version to suit every budget and with its legendary status as one of the most fun cars of the last 35 years, nothing offers more bang for your buck.

Best Used Car Over £15,000: BMW 520d

Our winner in the £15,000 and above used car category is the definition of a great all-rounder. Its effortless blend of a luxurious, spacious and high-tech interior, impressive driver involvement and wallet-friendly economy come together in a complete package that’s hard to beat.

Best Motability Car: MG HS-11

The Motability Scheme is a hassle-free means of leasing a new car and there are a wealth of great vehicles to choose from. Our 2023 winner stands out from the crowd thanks to its affordability, easy access, practicality and unrivalled level of standard equipment.

Overall Winner: Hyundai IONIQ 6

The overall winner Scottish Car of the Year was a clear front-runner in its category.

It’s a car that captivated our members when it was on the ASMW rota. They praised its handsome look; its well laid-out, elegant and technology-packed interior; and its excellent practicality. In addition, it has top notch ride quality and refinement, and an ability to cover long distances without any range anxiety.

ASMW President Al Suttie said “We have never known a year so closely fought for category winners and the overall title. For the IONIQ 6 to emerge as a clear winner is testament to how good it is as a car for families to embrace EV driving.”

Congratulations to Hyundai for this outstanding achievement! Here’s to another incredible year of celebrating automotive excellence, we want to say a massive thank you to all participants and enthusiasts who made this event unforgettable. Plus, a special mention to Macklin Motors for sponsoring the evening.

STOP PRESS! A date for your diary, SCOTY 2024 will be held on 28th November. More details to follow.