By Janice Hopper

Language, dialects and accents are intrinsically connected to the land and to communities.

But as the world revolves at an ever faster pace, there’s always the fear that these treasured voices, Scotland’s oral and aural heritage, may be eroded, even lost, and will fail to receive the recognition and support they deserve to ensure their preservation.

One small online radio station that celebrates the language and culture of Scotland, and is presented in Scots and features the language ‘fae Shetland tae the Borders and athin in atween’, is putting the voices of the nation in the limelight.

Scots Radio was set up in 2013 by well-known broadcaster, Frieda Morrison, with support from Creative Scotland, the Scots Language Centre and occasional co-presenter, ethnologist, Steve Byrne.

The programme is recorded at B and B studios in Edinburgh – produced and presented by Frieda with the much enjoyed banter with sound technician, Richard Werner, now very much an integral part of the programme.

Whilst most strands of the media communicate in English or Gaelic, Scots Radio is the one place the audience can hear the voices of the people speaking in their native language. Each episode is different and features urban and rural speakers discussing a wide range of topics from history, music, recreation, food, environment and of course agriculture.

Farming and the countryside is never far away from the content of the programme – be it in work, art or song.

Episode 39 was ‘amang the bothies, bonnie bulls and heavy horses at the Bothy Ballads Champion o' Champions in Elgin toon hall, the bull sales in Stirling and the heavy horse ivent in Collessie, in Fife.’

The thousands of listeners enjoy hearing conversation ‘in’ the language – topics are seldom about the language. As a bonus, it also plays good Scottish music.

Now, Scots Radio has received international recognition and has been nominated in the Celtic Media Awards for 'Best radio magazine programme, alongside large companies such as the BBC.

Entries come from as far afield as Galicia, Brittany, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland and parts of England, anywhere with a strong Celtic connection. So, it is competing against global heavyweights.

Frieda is delighted to be vying for the Festival’s ‘Torc’ Award for Excellence. “I’m honoured that Scots Radio has been nominated in the Celtic Media Festival," she said.

"We’ve come a lang wye – bit wiv a lang wye tae ging yet. It’s nae that lang ago fan fowk were punished for spikkin Scots in classrooms a’ roon Scotland and were discouraged fae speaking in their own language for many decades. It’s changed days and I feel that this nomination recognises that change."

Frieda comes from a farming background in the North-east. In the mid-1980s she presented the daily farming programme ‘Scottish Farming News’ on BBC Radio Scotland, twice daily.

“It wis this fairmin programme that led me first tae realise that my ain culture wis under threat and disappearin in the midst o the start of the oil-boom," said Frieda.

"Bit in the late 1980s, I saw hunners o' fairm sales or ‘roups’ in the North-east, that were the result o farmers being geen the wrang advice – tae sell their cattle and concentrate on grain production. Three bad hairsts later, led tae bankruptcies and fairmers haein to ‘roup-oot’.”

Frieda explored the issues of that dramatic time in the North-east in the BBC Scotland radio programme ‘A sense of time’, and in the subsequent TV documentary ‘Troubled fields’, named after her first music album.

She wrote the title song after being moved by a farmers’ meeting she witnessed with the then NFU president, Ian Grant, in the Barons Hotel, in Auchnagatt.

Frieda’s agricultural reporting took her as far afield as Nicaragua where she covered the controversial land struggles and the 10th anniversary and celebration of the Land Revolution.

The finished radio programme, ‘So many bridges’, received a New York Radio Award. And it was a natural progression from the ‘fermin programme’ to rural affairs, then onto presenting and very often producing the ever popular countryside programme ‘Out of doors’.

That had her reporting from a Prairie Festival in Kansas, tracking tigers in India and discovering the Lost Ark in Ethiopia. Her coverage from the Island of Eigg, on its independence day, gathered a Green Bafta.

Whilst Frieda is used to broadcasting to international audiences it’s clear that one benefit of Scots Radio being online is that it’s tapped into and enjoyed at home but also by the Scottish diaspora around the world.

Recently, she went to Douglas on the Isle of Man to attend the Celtic Media Festival awards ceremony. The Scots Radio nomination had drawn attention to this small radio station, but it’s mainly shining a light on the use of Scots in the mainstream media.

It is creating a new buzz around local culture and is being recognised for its pioneering style and as a ‘blast o fresh air’ at the right time. The winner of the Torq award was BBC Cymru, but all at Scots Radio were delighted to be nominated and Frieda found the festival inspiring.

She said: “We are delighted this programme has touched fowk a’ oor the warld and we wid like tae thank oor listeners for their support. There’s nae doot the Celtic Meeja Festival is gaan tae be an important step for us an it’s an honour tae be nominated. We are up against a lot o' great programmes – bit we travel in hope.”

n To listen to Scots Radio visit