Caithness FM

All communities have their own unique identity but we think ours is just a little bit special.

Aurora Borealis over Sinclair Bay

Our Community

All communities have their own unique identity but we think ours is just a little bit special.

As well as being geographically unique, Caithness has a population different from any other. Those born in the county bring a strong sense of tradition, permanence and strength, all blended with an underlying sense of humour.

Add to that the ideas, customs and beliefs of the many people who have, over the years, moved to work in this area and stayed to make it not only their home, but the home of their children and indeed their children’s children, and you may just begin to understand a little bit of Caithness.

We hope that Caithness FM reflects the diversity and character of this area.

1993 and Caithness FM first takes to the airwaves, with a restricted service licence (RSL), for one month. The broadcasts were from a portacabin in Councillor Alistair Macdonald’s garden at Hill of Forss using borrowed equipment from Highland Council.
In 1994 Caithness FM again returned to the airwaves, this time for two months from Scapa House in Thurso. This photograph shows the end of licence party with all of the people who helped over the two month licence.
The building that is now our studio being delivered thanks to the generosity of UKAEA at Dounreay. And so began the months of work to make the building suitable for use.
Just one of the many crazy things we did to raise funds to go on air permanently. The Janet Street Fayre 1994, when we all took turns to sit under a bucket of freezing cold water and charged the public to throw wet sponges at a 7” vinyl record which in turn caused the bucket to tip pouring water over us.
And zoom forward to 2008 when cfm celebrated the 10th anniversary of going on air permanently. Company secretary Jackie Johnson and chairman Frank Charlton are pictured with the many people involved at that time.

Station History

MID 1992

During a chance conversation between then local MP Robert McLennan and Thomas Prag, Managing Director of Moray Firth Radio the idea of community radio in Caithness was born. So in December 1992 some public meetings were held to gauge public interest. The interest was positive, so the seeds were sown to get a radio station!


Links were formed with Moray Firth Radio which allowed an application to be made for a four week temporary broadcast. In October 1993, from a portacabin in the garden of a local councillors house, Caithness Community Radio took to the airwaves for the first time.


A second successful RSL (Restricted Service Licence) was run for a period of eight weeks from Scapa House in Thurso (roughly where Lidl supermarket now stands).


It was agreed that the trial broadcasts had been a success and a decision was made to go all out to go on air permanently.


After premises secured at Murkle proved to be unsuitable a lease on a piece of land in Neil Gunn Drive, Thurso was secured through the local enterprise company.


UKAEA Dounreay donated a large “temporary” building for use as a studio.

MARCH 1997

The licence application was submitted to the Radio Authority’s office in the Docklands, London. This application was lost when the IRA bombed the Docklands so a further application was submitted.


Our building was delivered and work began to turn what was basically a large derelict portacabin into a radio station.


Funding secured! Third lottery application successful, grants from local council and the local enterprise company together with generous donations from local groups, companies and our own fundraising efforts meant that the necessary amount was raised.


The mast was raised, interior building works were completed and electricity and water were connected.

20 APRIL 1998

Caithness FM took to the airwaves with Hugh Manson’s “Strathsounds”.

JUNE 2000

An extension to the building allowed for a new studio and record library.


Caithness FM were awarded funding from the Highland Year of Culture to purchase a trailer suitable for outside broadcasts.


We celebrated ten years of broadcasting by having a party with presenters both past and present.


Major renovations to the building were undertaken. This included stripping the wooden cladding from the whole exterior of the building and replacing it with stainless steel PVC coated cladding.


After 19 years of broadcasting on 102.5 FM in conjunction with Moray Firth Radio, Caithness FM successfully applied for its own broadcasting licence and began the two year procedure of preparing to relaunch the station on 106.5M.


Relaunch of Caithness FM on 106.5M.

Our Commitment

Caithness FM has received a tremendous amount of support from the people of Caithness and it has always been part of our remit to provide a service to the community as a whole wherever possible.
We do this partly by providing an information service – from lost cats to severe weather reports! but also by supporting other voluntary groups in the area.

Our COMMUNITY PROFILE slot on Tuesday evenings is used by other groups to tell the county about themselves and to promote their organisation or event. We also have a nightly WHAT’S ON DIARY which is totally FREE OF CHARGE and can be used by voluntary groups to advertise forthcoming events.
We try to attend local galas etc, providing music and P.A. facilities on occasion.

As part of our ongoing commitment to the community we have also tried, where possible, to help other groups in practical matters. We have regularly lent out our fund-raising equipment and even on occasions provided the people to do the fund-raising!

One aspect of our community involvement that we are particularly proud of is the PET OF THE WEEK slot which can be heard each Tuesday evening and is run in conjunction with Balmore Animal Welfare Centre.

We have in the past allowed students from the North Highland College to use our facilities and indeed broadcast live as part of their assessment for the National Certificate in Media Studies.
We try to accommodate groups of visitors whenever possible, especially from local youth groups as the youth of today are the presenters of tomorrow!
Also as part of our involvement with young people, we have taken teenagers on board to assist them in obtaining their Duke of Edinburgh Award, either as service to the community or to help them to develop in the skills section of the award.


Presenters require training in the practical aspects of “desk driving” which can only be undertaken in the studio.

In house training, although cheap and practical provides its own problem in that most of our members are either employed or in full time education during the day and the studio is live in the evenings – so scheduling training can sometimes be difficult. A situation we hope to remedy one day by having two studios.

We can also call upon the services of experienced trainers provided by Highland Regional Council should we require specialist training, e.g. interview techniques, making jingles etc. This training is partly funded by the local enterprise company. We recognise that training should be ongoing and hope that even experienced broadcasters will make use of short courses on specialist subjects.

Back to top