VECTIS VIEW: Ian Mac, Founder and station manager of Vectis Radio

By IW Mar 20, 2022

The view from Vectis Radio…. but all I can see is the column next door; has he got planning permission for that collar? I know for a fact that he wouldn’t want me as a neighbour. Just as well it’s a one off. Or is it?

It seems like yesterday that I started my media career, but in fact it was in 1991 that I made my radio debut on Radio Victory, albeit short-lived. Next stop was the big time, Isle of Wight Radio, broadcasting on 1243 medium wave. I had wanted to get into radio since listening to Tom Brown present the Top 20 back in the ‘70s and wondered how I was going to become small enough to fit inside a transistor radio. Nowadays, after too much fast food, I struggle to fit inside a studio!

I started out aged 15¼ spinning 45s in pubs and clubs, inspired by the late great Martin ‘Bully’ Bull who worked at The Gloucester in Cowes and Squires in Newport (ask your Granny). Radio was always my passion though and I was like a dog with a bone. Even after my mother shattered my dreams, saying you’ll never be on the radio because you sound like a farmer; those kinds of comments always spur me on. The more people tell me I can’t do something, the more determined I become.

When we put Vectis Radio together, back in 2009, I was told I was crazy, and nobody should start a business during a credit crunch. Well, I did, and guess what, 13 years on we’re still here. It hasn’t been easy, surviving on a couple of hundred pounds a month and not paying the interest on your mortgage for about 10 years, really puts a strain on your marriage, but I really have been blessed in that department.

One time Vectis only had £37 in the bank. The rent was due and we were working on plans to launch on FM, for which we needed £13,000. Only another £12,963 needed. Lots of people thought it wouldn’t happen, but dreams do come true if you are prepared to work at them and if you have half a dozen people around you that want you to succeed.

So, on November 4, 2017, we launched on FM104.6, for which I blame Kelvin Currie, it was his idea. Fast forward to 2022, not only do we have an award-winning radio station, but also a very successful 4Ps Radio Training School working with young people. Many are under-privileged but never cease to amaze with what they achieve if you just give them time and consideration. Simply using the main ingredients of radio that I’ve picked up on the way, we build confidence and communication so that they can, in some cases, fulfil a dream. But in most cases they become a more confident person, giving them a better chance in life. Am I putting something back into my little community?

You betcha, and at my age there isn’t a better feeling. I only wish we had more funding so we could help more young people.

I have felt guilty over the last two years because so many people have struggled during Covid. Some have lost their businesses, and some their lives, and I felt a little uneasy celebrating our successes. Fifteen Community Radio nominations, including one for Station of the Year. From that we’ve picked up four bronze, four silver, and more recently two golds, and the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, equivalent to an MBE. Not bad for a little bloke from the Pan Estate who used to sound like a farmer. Thanks Mum. Ooh argh nipper!