John MacCalman Interview April 2010

. Where were you born and brought up?

Born in Scotstounhill, Glasgow in a big house next to Scotstounhill Railway Station. This was to have an early influence on my first job! As a kid I grew up among steam trains and would often be found down at the station helping out.

Growing up as a teenager in the Sixties was great. I had two half sisters who were ten and eleven years older than me. My first interests in broadcasting came from sister Pat who worked as a news secretary at BBC TV in Queen Margaret Drive. Every evening she would come home with stories about “what went wrong today.”

I wasn't happy at school - I went to Hillhead High where I think they were more interested in making up quotas than meeting any educational desires of the pupils. I was really interested in Geography so they made me drop it in favour of History. Corporal punishment ruled and I would frequently receive the belt. When I sought out careers advice they hadn't a clue about broadcasting. I started to skip days at school and would often go up to STV's studios in Cowcaddens and watch them make the live lunchtime show The One O'Clock Gang. This became a rather bad habit and my absences were so frequent that halfway through 6th Year I was expelled.

At the time the Pirate Radio Station Radio Scotland was all the rage. My late father was a lawyer who mainly specialised in licensing work but one of his clients was Mr T.V. Shields who ran Radio Scotland so naturally I wanted to become a DJ or at least work in radio. I actually did an audition for them supervised by Brian Holden, a rather stern South African who was in charge at their Cranworth Street Studios. There were several hopefuls there and the audition included reading a rather tough news script and describing an object taking constantly for one minute making sense. Harder than you think! It was the time of the Vietnam war. The news item contained some foreign names, among them was Nguyen Cao Ky, Prime Minister of South Vietnam, so one DJ hopeful decided to call him Mr Hoochie-coochie. He didn't get the job. Neither did I!

I also took up the guitar rather badly and formed a band which did not last very long - the Spectre Beat Unit - did about three gigs before I realised it wasn't for me. One of the gigs I do remember was at Jordanhill College; can't remember the year but I do remember that also playing at the same venue was a young Billy Connolly.

I also had an attempt at TV scriptwriting in 1963 which earned me my first rejection letter from the BBC! It was for That Was The Week That Was and the subject was a political party's leadership election which I wrote in the style of a horse race commentary.

. What was your first Job?

The early influence of growing up beside the railway station paid off and in the summer of '65 I joined British Rail in Glasgow Central Station Enquiry Office dealing with the public. I remember the job interview. They gave me a massive tome, the British Rail Timetable, to look at and then asked me questions about train times. I was such an anorak that I could respond without looking up the timetable!

That launched an 8 year career which I did enjoy. I remember early on getting a row for giving out too much information! After Glasgow Central I was the booking clerk at Hillfoot Station then went on to a two-year Railway Studentship course spending time at Falkirk Grahamston Goods Station, Motherwell Central and the Divisional HQ in Union Street. There was a section in there called Work Study and one of the clerks spent most of the time sleeping at his desk. Every time I saw him I found myself humming the Herman's Hermans hit of the time Sleepy Joe. After that I ended up in the Greenock Area Manager's Office for four years.

I also had my first venture into pop promotion. I would spend weekends down at Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae doing a DJ spot at the dance hall in the Garrison. When in Glasgow my Saturday nights consisted of a visit to Bearsden Burgh Hall where they had a dance with live bands. One of these bands was Tony Rivers and the Castaways who did an excellent job of covering Beach Boys hits as well as their own songs. I thought it would be great to put them on in Millport. Booked them and paid up front. They were great but the gig was a financial disaster.

While all that was going on I was still very keen on developing my broadcasting interests. Any time I tried to get a job in the industry I was met with “you have to have experience?” So what better way was there than to start my own radio station? I met up with some like minded people who were also very keen on the notion and we decided to try and establish a Hospital Radio service in Glasgow with the name Radio Phoenix. Two key friends in this project were Bob Carson and Irene Craney.

We had dreams of setting up a big network serving all the Glasgow hospitals so we approached the authorities with our ideas. Naturally we planned on a pop music type service.

It was the Glasgow Northern Board of Management that saw in our approach something that was desperately needed but not in the form we had been thinking. Foresthall Hospital and Home in Springburn was a geriatric care establishment which was filled with lonely neglected old people. They offered us a trial period of one year to provide a weekly programme service for a couple of hours over the relay system in the hospital every Sunday. Their wisdom in giving us this challenge was probably the best thing that ever happened to my ambitions.

It was a major culture shock to me and the rest of the team. We built up a music library not of current pop hits but of very oldies - traditional Scottish, wartime hits and standards. We went round the wards making a great effort to talk to the patients. For many of them, we were the only visitors they had and it was tough going. At the end of the year we were honoured by the Hospital Board with a special dinner and their grateful thanks. For me it was a great lesson on how to succeed by listening to your listeners.

Radio Phoenix was the pilot scheme out of which grew HBS Glasgow. While that developed, Bob Carson and I were both still very keen to enter the broadcasting industry on a professional basis.

The Sound Broadcasting Act of 1972 was my big opportunity. This legislation changed the Independent Television Authority (ITA) into the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and set about establishing commercial radio in the UK. Glasgow was one of the first areas to be identified as a site for one of the new radio stations and the IBA carried out “public consultation” as to what listeners in the area wanted from the radio station. Bob Carson and I, with tireless help from Irene Craney, set about preparing a written submission to the IBA. We handed it in to them and it was kindly acknowledged. Then the wheels of the Authority started to move in my favour by presenting a great opportunity.

The Royal Television Society was holding an event in Glasgow about the future of Commercial Radio. By this time the franchise for this had almost been finalised and Jimmy Gordon (now Lord Gordon), who headed the company which had been successful, was going to address the event. The IBA arranged that I would have the chance to address the gathering on “the listeners' attitude to commercial radio” What was more important to me was I would have the chance to meet Jimmy Gordon.

We frantically set about preparing a proposed programme schedule how we would
run a commercial station. From memory I think Bob Carson had succeeded in his career ambitions and was now working for Thames Television in London. The proposals I had were not for the RTS event but were for me to give to Jimmy Gordon.

When I look back at them now there were so many glaring errors in the schedule both in philosophy and practicality but despite these Jimmy Gordon shortly afterwards offered me a job as a Station Assistant joining the company two months before we went on air. I packed in my career with British Rail; after all it was just a change of station, and in November 1973 reported to the new HQ of Radio Clyde under construction in the Anderson Cross Centre.

. What was your role when you started at Radio Clyde?

These days you would probably be called a producer but that was a title that was frowned upon - very BBC. As a Production Assistant your main job was to help put the programmes together. You would learn all about copyrights, music, artists, and relationships with record companies. It was all very new so we had to make it up as we went along. There's a fabulous book by Tony Currie who was the first DJ on air called Not Quite Altogether Now which goes into great detail about these pioneering days and I would highly recommend it. This would also save me taking up space so I can get on to the real stuff of interest to Glasband.
Within Radio Clyde I moved on the become Production-Co-ordinator and then Production Controller. This was at the same time that Richard Park became a very successful Music Controller.

. What sparked your interest in the local music scene?

By the time I joined Radio Clyde I had moved into my own flat in Grantley Street in Shawlands not far from the Doune Castle. I remember one evening I was sitting at home and The Waltons came on the TV. I couldn't stand them so I figured I'm off for a drink. I wandered into the Doune Castle and I heard music coming from the cellar downstairs.

A band was playing so I sat down and started to enjoy them however I didn't recognise any of their songs. Their front man, Billy Fairbairn, has a great rapport with the audience. At half time I approached them and asked them “how much of your own material do you do?” “All of it is our own” was the slightly miffed reply. I was impressed and my love affair with Underhand Jones was born.

I figured that I could help them with my contacts in the music business through Radio Clyde however I would have to keep any activity separate to avoid any conflict of interest. With a friend, Andrew Harvey, who was a successful Chartered Accountant interested in some kind of involvement in the music business, we formed two Limited Companies to look after the interests of the band. One was Jammy Music Publishers Ltd. and the other was Scotia Nostra Management Ltd.
Despite investing heavily, we never made any money out of Underhand Jones.
Scotia Nostra Management was eventually wound up but Jammy Music did have some successes from other projects. More on them later.

. You ran the Kelvingrove Festivals featuring the cream of the local band
scene around 1976, how did that event come about/get started? And were Radio
Clyde always involved?

Radio Clyde was very much community based and Jimmy Gordon recognised how much the listeners had contributed to the success of the station and wanted to give something back by way of a thank you so the Clyde Festivals were born. Radio Clyde would run a series of events every May in the area it served under the Banner Clyde XX for the year of the event. It would provide an umbrella for community events as well as promoting its own concerts and arts oriented activities.

I suggested that we should run a free open air concert using only local musicians who performed original material. This would encourage talent on our doorstep to grow and reach a wider audience. The funding of the event was possible because commercial radio had in these days (sadly, no more) an obligation to spend 3% of their net revenue on live music. This was why Radio Clyde was able to have its own recording studio and mobile.

At Radio Clyde we had a very good relationship with the Glasgow Parks Department and provided them with summer roadshows - Parks Patrol with Richard Park - the infamous “Dr Dick”. Kelvingrove Park had a great bandstand with a natural amphitheatre and this was chosen for the venue for the first Kelvingrove Free Music Festival.

The naysayers said nobody would turn up for unknown bands even it was free but they were wrong. The sun shone, the bandstand was full and an event was born. Sadly, the first Kelvingrove was not recorded but subsequent years were.

The basic principle of original material from local bands was the mainstay throughout the years the Festival ran, though occasionally we would allow the odd cover.

I was trying to find a complete bandography of the acts that appeared each year at Kelvingrove (and one year at Queen's Park) but so far have been unsuccessful.
I no longer have access to the archives at Radio Clyde and since my departure I am doubtful if there is anyone who cares in their corporate structure today. Perhaps it is something that Glasband80 could put together.

This is a question that has been discussed many times over the years, Do you know what happened to the old Clyde Kelvingrove Festival recordings, and do any of them still exist?

Each band did receive a copy of their performance on tape or cassette. Radio Clyde did keep the master tapes and the multi-tracks over the years but they gradually began to decay. A few years ago when Radio Clyde was taken over by E-map a project was set up to take many of the archive recordings and transfer them to digital format before it was too late. The loft in Clydebank was stripped of all the tapes of name acts and sent for processing. I don't think the Kelvingrove tapes were deemed to be of sufficient value so they remained and would probably be totally unplayable now.

In 1989 I commissioned Pete Mayo at GHS Motion Picture Services to record the event which was called “The Class of '89”. I've just come across the camera log for the event but I've no idea where the footage is now. I know that it ended up with 16 minutes of documentary colour footage with non-sync sound.

. Did you have any involvement with any other outdoor concerts around?
Glasgow in the early 80s?

I'll expand this question a little but to cover my overall involvement on the music scene at Radio Clyde.

There was nothing on the scale of Kelvingrove that springs to mind as far as outdoor concerts go but the Music Department at Clyde was incredibly active recording concerts up to five nights a week. The Apollo was in its heyday and if the concert was on a Friday night we sometimes would record the band and play bits back on Steve Jones Boozy Woogie Rock Show at midnight with the band present. After the show we would all retire to the Albany Hotel for drinks with the band and would still be there when the sun came up. Around 3am the cleaner came round the bar area to try and clean up. Anybody who made it past that hour was entitled to wear the special T-shirt “I was hoovered at 3am at the Albany”

In the late 70's I also devised the music magazine programme “Stick It In Your Ear“ This was at the time quite cutting edge whereby we would interview artists then cut out as much as possible - especially the interviewer - and mix it with key snippets of music - great fun to produce with Brian Ford as the presenter.
We could be quite cruel at times but usually to our own.

In 1990, Glasgow European Capital of Culture, an event took place that was one of the highlights of my career at Radio Clyde - The Big Day. This featured four live stages throughout the city. We covered it live with stereo feeds from each of the stages into our Anderston Cross HQ and four live roving units with a reporter and production assistant. I drew on the crews from our Superscoreboard sports team to resource the event and approached it in the style of live golf tournament.
Every song was recorded from each stage and itemised so it could be played back instantly. Bands included Hue and Cry, Wet Wet Wet, Love and Money, and Big Country. We were honoured with a Silver Medal at the International Radio Festival of New York for our coverage.

. You mentioned on the Rock Scotland forum about past ideas and possibilities for reviving the Kelvingrove bandstand, do you think that will ever happen?

The Kelvingrove Bandstand is still potentially a wonderful venue for the city. The old bandstand has to be torn down and a new modern facility erected in its place. It does not have to be too sophisticated. All you need is a flat stage with dressing room facilities at the back and a roof. The natural acoustic of the amphitheatre helps contain the sound within the area. It is so sad that it has been neglected. I do believe it can be rebuilt and would be a great open air venue for music and theatre.

. You were involved with “Jammy records” and “Jammy music publishers
limited” tell us about that?

Jammy Music was formed to look after Underhand Jones and initially I hadn't thought of expanding in to other artists till two Customs Officers came to see me about a song they had. They heard I was a music publisher and they had this Scottish song that they wanted published. I explained that I was really interested in the pop market but I would give it a listen. The song was “Always Argyll” and I could hear it had potential. I signed it up and placed it with music producer Pete Shipton who was working on a new album for Valerie Dunbar. He liked it and it became the title song of her new album. My first success as a publisher and the song went on to have more than 30 covers worldwide.

There was a great story about one of these covers that came out under the title “Always Mayo”. An Irish record company wanted to use the song but change the lyrics. To do this they must have the permission of the original publisher. They wanted a 30% share in the royalties of the adapted version which would have been a reasonable request except for the fact that they had already produced the album without first obtaining permission. We granted permission but without their 30% share.

When Underhand Jones split up I started to look for other artists to work with. I liked their commercial style of The Imprints who I had seen perform at the Dial Inn and signed up two members of the band, Cha Smith and Jim Tollan, as writers for Jammy Music. While working with the band trying to get them a record deal I also saw a market in Production Music also known as Library Music. This is the source of music used in commercials and in background for TV and Films.

I had spotted a niche market in music tailored for the duration of radio commercials. At the time the shortest lengths of this kind of tune was 28.5 seconds for technical reasons attached to film commercials on TV at the time. We recorded each instrumental tune into unit lengths of 10, 20 30, 40, 50 and 60 seconds and distributed these on disc - first vinyl then CD - to production houses throughout the UK. It was groundbreaking at the time but now it is pretty standard.

I also recognised a market in music for movies. I pitched for a TV theme tune which an LA based music house was wanting for a new TV series based on the Modesty Blaise stories. Cha and Jim produced a great demo and while the pitch was unsuccessful it opened the door in LA for Jammy Music and a deal was set up with the Fricon Entertainment Company to handle our material in the USA. We had moderate success with this over the years.

Jammy Music's Production Library expanded and was relatively successful in its projects but we never landed the big one.

We also did some successful library projects with Bill Padley and Grant Mitchell and even brought out a single on BBC Records on 23rd July 1986 to mark the Royal Wedding of Sarah Ferguson to HRH Prince Andrew. It was a rather neat arrangement of the two traditional wedding tunes - Wagner's Bridal Chorus and Mendelssohn's Wedding March - played by the True Love Orchestra and called The Wedding Song. Sad to say BBC records did not release it till the day after the wedding but they did do a beautiful cover for the single!

Jammy records also had comedy material. I produced a solo album with Craig Ferguson (now a mega TV star in LA) in the guise of Bing Hitler Live at the Tron.
Hear Victor and Barry and Faint as an EP featuring Forbes Masson and Alan Cumming!

. Underhand Jones/The Shops released the L.P. “Jammy But Nice” in 1980, What do you remember about that project?

Jammy Records became a vehicle for promoting songs signed to Jammy Music and also for bands who wanted to do their own material and release their own singles. Jammy But Nice was a free promotional album mainly for the songs of Underhand Jones.

. Did you have any input on UHJ playing at The Loch Lomond Festival in 1989 and What qualities did you see in the band ?

It was initially the simplicity of the songs. They were nice guys and great to work with but I guess on reflection it was the wrong time. There I was trying to push a band of their style at the dawn of the punk revolution! We worked incredibly hard on the songs because that's where the real earning potential is in the music business.

Loch Lomond was a great gig. I knew the promoter and was able to get the band an early spot scheduled - I think it was just 20 minutes- but while they were on stage the stage manager told me that the next band had been delayed and would be late reaching the stage. He asked if Underhand Jones could play a longer set. I passed the word on to the boys and they duly obliged. They'd probably have played all day if given the chance. In true professional style they made no hint to any backstage problems and played longer till the word came that the next band had arrived, Unfortunately this may have backfired on them because some of the crowd thought that the band had deliberately over run their slot.

. Cammy Forbes and Brian Coyle went on to form The Dolphins after the
demise of Underhand Jones in 1980, How much Involvement did you have with The Dolphins? Did you manage the band at any point?

I never managed the band at any point but I took on the role of consultant (unpaid) to advise the boys on their careers. there are so many great memories working with with the band. Highlights would be the Mayfair gigs at Christmas- Cammy's cover version of Santa Claus is coming to town was an annual favourite. And the Kelvingrove midnight gig was amazing. Not just the crowd but the fireworks.

Two stories here. I went down to Brocks factory in Sanquar to select the "industrial strength" fireworks and studied how to set up a control board to detonate them. We had a moat area in front of the stage and I dug in holes in the ground to place the launch tubes with a safety area, during the display  one of the launch tubes came unstuck and tottered towards the crowd so I dived over and held the tube in an upright position till it finished discharging, I had no fear as I used to play with roman candles as a kid! Very dangerous - don't try this at home. What I did'nt know was that there was another fireworks display on the hill above the bandstand. It was Bastille Day at Le Bonne Auberge Restaurant and they had there own celebration, but the crowd thought it was all part of ours.

. You had the band members on individual cantracts, how did that work?

Stevie Doherty was the singer with Underhand Jones and decided to leave the band, I was still his manager because  my contract was with each individual so I worked with him at the early stages of his career with Zero Zero.

This is a basic standard situation in band management contracts whereby each individual is signed up. It covers situations where band personnel change. It does mean that when a member leaves the band, he can still be under contract. Sometimes the management company will release that person from the contract. In Stevie's  case until a new management company came along I was happy to carry out my obligations to look after his interests. We were good friends and I still keep in touch with him today.

I did what I could to help Stevie and Zero Zero. By that time there wasn't any formal arrangement but I was still happy to try and help him because I believed in his talent, It might seem a bit naive to say this but a lot of what I did was done on trust. If something had worked out I know I would have had a share of the action.

. You went out to the States to promote Cammy Forbes and Stevie Doherty, tell us about that ?

I had two trips to the USA in trying to get deals in which I was accompanied by the “talent” - one with Cammy in 1984 and the other with Stevie when he was in Zero Zero.

With Cammy then under the brand name of David Forbes I set up legal representation in LA with the law offices of Neville L Johnson on Sunset Boulevard. In return for a retainer which we paid he pushed the bands material to LA based record companies. This was how the music business worked in Tinsel Town. We came close but no cigar. In some ways it was quite depressing. We stayed at the infamous Tropicana Motel (now closed)
and dined daily at either Dukes or the appropriately named Fatburger. Spent a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring.

I don't remember too much about the trip with Stevie. We did get to New York, Washington DC and LA but did not have much success though we did get in the door of a few record companies. Stevie will probably be able to tell you more about that. In 1987 I did an immense amount of work on behalf of Stevie and Zero Zero mainly in the field of legal advice for contracts that were being offered at the time. My main interest in Stevie was to sign him up as a songwriter rather than looking after management. I came across a letter in my files that I wrote to Chris Gilbert at Rockmasters Music on 27th May 1987 - they had offered Zero Zero a contract.

In this letter I outlined my history of my involvement with Stevie, after he left Underhand Jones in 1979.... Here's an extract from it.

I continued to fulfil my obligations as manager by helping his career including getting him an audition with AC/DC. Although I kept in touch with Stevie it wasn't until he first formed Zero Zero that I took serious interest in the potential of the new band. Around November last year I noticed the band were cooking well and started to get involved in their promotion, Management and business affairs, I made it clear from the start that I had no desires to manage them as my main interest lay in publishing.
I guided them through the minefield of A&R and od bad managers as well as running the publicity machine that led up to the main showcase at Shadows where Atlantic saw them in the form of Peter Price and Phil Carson. The organisation included busing 48 fans from Edinburgh for free, flying Derek Oliver from Kerrang (the rave reviewer) up to see them and in general staging and control of the gig so it couldn't fail.

I'd forgotten just how much work went into my projects!

. Were there any other bands you were involved with?

Through Jammy Music there were quite a few others. We helped Clark Sorley at Sirocco Studios in Kilmarnock with some of their rock acts that were recording in their studio.

. I spoke to Tom Russell last year and he mentioned that his Rock station
96.3 Rock Radio helps a lot of up and coming young local bands, do
you agree that Rock Radio has taken over that mantle from Radio Clyde?

I fear Radio Clyde has lost a lot of the spirit of the early days but they do still work hard on local talent - Paolo Nutini being a great example. On the Rock scene I would certainly agree with Tom and I would like to see Rock Radio do more.

. The Glasgow band scene from the late 80s was dominated by “Tennents
live” moving away from one band playing a full set of material, to 4 or 5 bands per night, What are your thoughts on the change in the pub scene for bands?

The pub scene in Glasgow has a very interesting history. For years it was hindered by the Glasgow Licensing Laws which prohibited pubs from charging admission for live music. This limited the amount of money you could earn as a band. The sponsorship from Tennents helped overcome this problem and also gave more opportunities for musicians.

. Would you ever consider writing a book based on your experiences and memories with Radio Clyde and the Kelvingrove Festivals etc…?

Hey, this could be the start of it! Seriously, I still live for tomorrow and the opportunities it will bring. So to spend a lot of time raking through the past would deny me time to be spent on the future.

. Do you have a favourite ever Scottish band signed or unsigned?

That's a real tough one. I would have to say I loved the songs that Campbell Forbes wrote. He is an incredibly talented musician and singer and I was bitterly disappointed that he never got the wider recognition he deserved. But then there are so many like him in Scotland that could have made it. Maybe if he had a better manager in these early days….

. Did you have a favourite Glasgow venue to see a band and why?

Several. I loved The Amphora in Sauchihall stret best because it had the most perfect room for live performance, I'm sure big Ski - Cammy's brother and UJs sound man would tell you. The room was carpeted and the wall very non reflective of sound so playing at a sensible level you could get an excellent PA mix through the room.

. What do you think of the modern TV shows like X Factor, Pop Idol etc…
Are they a good thing or a bad thing for music and musicians?

Its all image and somewhat lacking in substance. A bit like politics. As to being a good thing or bad thing. If it encourages young people to take up music then it can only be good. However you can't beat working your craft in front of a live audience. It is very much like the stand up comedy circuit today. If you can't cut it live then it's probably not for you.

. You have won a lot of awards for your great work with Radio Clyde, which Award are you most proud of and why?

I have to say that the awards success was due to the teamwork at Radio Clyde and the inspirational atmosphere that allowed you to be creative in the early years. While the Sony Station of The Year awards reflected that the one I am most proud of is the one for The Big Day and the reason again was the teamwork.

. You presented a show on Clyde called “3C Continuous Cool Country” for 6 years; Did you enjoy presenting that show? What was different about it compared to other radio shows?

3C - Continuous Cool Country was actually a separate Digital Radio Station that served the UK on DAB Digital Radio in certain areas and also on line.

There's an interesting history here. Back in the late 90s we were looking for a presenter to host a “New Country” show on Clyde 2. I had listened to one of the RSL (Restricted Licence Service) stations which would come on for a few weeks to provide a special radio service to the community. This one featured Country Music and one of the presenters was an American called Pat Geary, a former Assistant District Attorney from Orange County in California, who had set up home in Scotland and owned a specialist record store in Byres Road. I was impressed by his presenting style and knowledge so I suggested we take him on to host a new show.

When DAB Digital Radio came on the scene Radio Clyde's parent company - Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) - was successful in its licence application. The beauty of the DAB system is that one transmitter can carry up to around 10 services. In addition to relaying its existing FM and AM services SRH decided to set up an entirely new station to provide Country Music 24 hours a day.

Pat Geary was a natural selection to be the Station Manager and shortly after the station took to the air I moved in to work on 3C - Continuous Cool Country. Most of my duties as Production Controller for Radio Clyde were passed on to others though I still had responsibility for special events and also religious broadcasting with Clyde.

I returned to presenting on radio after an absence of many years. It was a massive learning curve for me. I probably knew around 20 country artists and most of them were in the traditional Country and Western genre which was what 3C was NOT about. I learned about 300 new to me artists and bands that were all incredibly talented and performed modern country music.

Oh, I made big mistakes in these early days. Always be sure of the pronunciation of an artist's name and most especially what sex they are and if you don't know the song, listen to it first before opening your mouth. We prepared the shows using a voice tracking method. You would record all your links then drop them into the playlist. As we frequently played 3 or 4 songs in a row before talking we didn't hear the middle songs at all. My classic booboo was to refer back to a song by an artist called Tracy Byrd saying she gave us a fine performance. Only thing wrong is Tracy Byrd is a 6 ft tall strapping cowboy.

I loved the modern country scene because the songs were so relevant, creative and often told great stories. And there was a lot of fun. How about “The Big One
By Confederate Railroad - all about farting in church. It wasn't all like that but it had its moments.

Sad to say first E-map failed to capitalise and develop 3C when they took over Scottish Radio Holdings and when Bauer Radio took over E-Map their attitude still prevailed and eventually the service closed. About a year before that I had been doing a lot of work on the websites for both 3C and Clyde 2. In June of 2006 I was appointed Web Editor for Radio Clyde. As web editor I increased the unique users on the site from 37,056 (June 06) to 153,681 (May 07) the page impressions from 284,403 (June 06) to 1,077,543 (May 07) and increased the VIP club membership from 13194 to 22,983.

In 2007 came the reality check. Within the Bauer Emap regime I had become an expensive animal and the powers that be decided my Web Editor's post was to be closed. Within the corporate structure this was understandable. If you took the job I was doing as being purely web editor but within Clyde my responsibilities went far beyond the web role. However I took the opportunity to turn to pastures new and accept voluntary redundancy.

. You moved on to work in travel and aviation journalism, Where you always interested in that subject? What made your career go in such a different direction?

It may seem a massive change but I'd always been interested in travel and aviation. I had produced several documentaries for Radio Clyde on the subject including Britannia 300A the story of flight deck operations on a charter from Glasgow to Orlando which won a Gold Medal at New York and Tales from Kai Tak
which featured the story of one of the most dangerous airports in the world at the time - Kai Tak in Hong Kong (now closed). Making this involved flying a couple of trips on the flight deck into Kai Tak and travelling to The USA to meet pilots with stories about their adventures.

In 2000 I started to write for an aviation column for Scottish Travel Agents News (STAN) called On The Fly.

I had also produced several live broadcasts from the USA for Radio Clyde including Disneyland Florida with Mike Riddoch, a series that went coast to coast with Alastair Macdonald and George Bowie's Breakfast Show live from Times Square New York.

While at Clyde I wore the Travel Editor's hat so I followed the travel trade with interest. I also covered the activities of the Scottish Claymores during the short reign of NFL Europe and would travel to all their away games.

Along with all my music biz trips to the USA I built up a massive amount of frequent flier miles which I used each year for a holiday in Thailand travelling the long way via the USA and Tokyo.

I became very friendly with a Thai rock band in the city of Pattaya who did superb covers of rock classics. I was so impressed by them that I set up a website for them and shot several live videos.

When I left Clyde I had an idea of a TV documentary series on a group of islands in the North Pacific. More on that in the response to your last question. I spent a year on that with virtually no income except a couple of consulting jobs for Clyde, a little bit of freelance presentation and the odd travel assignment.

In October 2008 I realised I had to get a full time job so I applied to Travel 2 for a post of Travel Sales Consultant helping Travel Agents package holidays worldwide. While I had no previous experience in the industry my knowledge of overseas countries and of aviation would help. I've been working full time with them since then and I must say that though the pay is very poor for the responsibilities you have, the company is great to work for and the people there are fab. The company only deals with the trade and does not sell direct to the public so don't go asking me for cheap holidays!

.  Do you ever get a chance to see any local bands these days?

Not really. I would like to but I fear I might want to become involved again!

. What are you working on at the moment?

I am still working on my Pacific Islands project.

Air Mike - The Island Hopper will be a ten part TV documentary series on the history and contemporary economic status of the islands of Guam, Saipan, Truk (Chuuk), Pohnpei, Kosrae, Kawjalein, Majuro, Palau and Yap. The link for these islands is the development of air services in the US Pacific Micronesian Islands by “Air Mike”. Each show is planned on being 1 hour long and the common theme will be how the air services provided a critical boost to the economy of the region. As far as I can establish this has not been done before and would make enthralling TV.

Anyone interested can find out more at the website

Thanks for asking the questions and bringing back great memories. I'm sure I've missed many people and bands out so sorry for that. I hope you found my story to be of some interest.

25th April 2010

Big Thank you John for doing this interview and for giving such well thought and informative answers.


John MacCalman was part of the beginning of Radio Clyde in 1973 working as Production - co ordinator, he was a strong champion of the local band scene setting up and organising the legendary Kelvingrove Festivals which brought the cream of local talent to play in front of thousands at Kelvingrove bandstand. Excerpts from  these concerts would later be aired on Radio Clyde giving the bands and artists valuable exposure and much local acclaim.

This interview will cover John's career from his first Job to what he does now, his involvement with Radio Cyde, The Kelvingrove Festivals and his work with some of the bands and artists from that ara, the success of  "The Big Day" in Glasgow 1990 and his opinions on the music scene today.

John Receiving an Award for Radio Clyde
Underhand Jones
The Dolphins....The Dial Inn
Cammy Forbes....The Mayfair
Zero Zero
Stevie Doherty.... Kelvingrove. 
Cammy Forbes
Stevie Doherty
Clark Sorley recording Scheme at Sirocco Studios
The Dolphins night gig was special to me because I remember that day in 1983 well as it was the day I got a letter confirming my first full time job/apprenticeship (1983 not a lot of them going around for a 17 year old) so while on a high from that I decided to make my way that morning to Kelvingrove to soak up the atmosphere, little did I know that the band were already there setting up and had just finished the BBC interview with louise Batchelour (which had been set up by John), Cammy's first words to me were " you should have been here 5 minutes ago you could have been on the telly" I was in my element asking the band questions in the bus, we had a wee 2 a sides game of footie, went for a fish supper oot the chippie, I got to go onstage (during the day that is) and had a go on keyboards showing Drew how to play "Me and no one else", I think I remember you John talking to Richard Park or someone at Clyde on a Radio leaning into the door of  a car, (how that was possible back then I don't know, CB I think) any way after that I went home got cleaned up and came back with my brother to watch the best free outdoor gig I have ever witnessed.
 I mentioned Cammy's  comments in the middle of that gig "This is like a scene from my favourite movie" (referring to Film The Warriors) on The Band's write up on Glasband 80 and I was proud that that bit (among others) made it into the book "Minstrels Poets and Vagabonds" published last year  by Robert Fields......... I AM waffling now! BUT... Brilliant memories!!!
Tommy Devlin.
When I sent this to John in the middle of working on his interview he suggested I use it as  post script....So, I did.