Subcity Radio turns 20

You’ll never guess some of the people who’ve graced the studio


Hidden away in the John MacIntyre building lives the storied Subcity Radio, Glasgow’s freeform community station. This year they, like many of you, are celebrating 20 years of sheer, unadulterated madness.

Student radio in Glasgow started off in 1993 with “Sweet FM”, probably before half the readers of this were born. Changes in radio licensing laws and cheaper temporary licences allowed the beginnings of a station equipped with little more than a mixing desk and a transmitter held together with masking tape.

This precursor station set the tone for Subcity’s history, with controversy never seeming far away, but good music and great shows always being key.

Back before an FM licence would cost the more than your uni fees - Photo from Subcity Radio

Back before an FM licence would cost the more than your uni fees – Photo from Subcity Radio

In October 1995, Subcity was born, albeit with a bit more of a boring name, Glasgow University Radio, crashing onto the student radio scene in its inaugural transmission by being the only radio station to get an interview with the K Foundation after their notorious “burning of a million quid” on the Isle of Jura.

After announcing itself with such a bold first transmission, Subcity never held back.

In ’96 the station ran a three week broadcast as the official station of T in the Park, becoming the first radio station to broadcast from the festival during its last outing at the Strathclyde Country Park.

And the station closed off the year after being awarded Best Station in the inaugural UK Radio 1 Student Radio Awards, before seeing John Peel and Steve Lamacq present shows from the station’s makeshift kitchen-come-studio in ’97.

Hard at work - Photo from Subcity Radio Facebook

Hard at work – Photo from Subcity Radio Facebook

Following an ill-fated attempt at AM radio at the dawn of the millennium, in 2003 Subcity moved to online broadcasting, shaping the station into what it is today. Moving away from FM to AM, then online, allowed the station to have continuous year-round broadcasting, expanding the amount of shows going out on the airwaves.

This marked the transition into the Subcity that we know and love, a hotbed of local talent at least partially responsible for launching the careers of some of Glasgow’s finest exports such as Hudson Mohawke, Boom Monk Ben and All Caps.

During the past fifteen years of the new millennium Subcity has had a fair share of major milestones, cock ups, and controversy.

In 2003, local band Franz Ferdinand recorded a session for the station ahead of the release of their multi-million selling debut album. In 2004, the station packed out The Arches to celebrate it’s 10th Birthday, a year early. From 2007 until 2009 they put on an infamously sweaty monthly night at the Hetherington Research Club.

2009 saw the last (for now) FM broadcast , as the station opted to focus online.

2010, saw a rare return to The Arches for the station as it celebrated its 15th Birthday, filling the venue with over a thousand rowdy students. Talking of rowdy students, 2010 also saw a bit of controversy with Subcity Radio making it to the front page of BBC News when a reporter tuned into a live broadcast of Party Party, where the presenters were encouraging listeners to take a shot with every tune they played.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.59.48

Your uni, on BBC news, beat that Edinburgh

Returning to present day, those of you who are good with dates, or have seen the various posters and flyers around campus may have noticed that Subcity is turning twenty, planning its best year yet.

With monthly parties, live sessions and hundreds of hours of radio to listen to, there doesn’t seem like a better time than now to dig through the radio archives and find a 14 year old HudMo or Slam.

Or if you’re more of the active type, why not head down to the SRC Welcome Point today and see Subcity Radio presents Pure Radio Sex, an exhibition originally shown in the Art School’s project space featuring archival material collected across 20 years of broadcasts and parties.

subcity exhibition

– Photo from Subcity Radio

And just for you drinkers and music lovers, come down and celebrate your new best friends 20th birthday at The Art School on the 21st of March, with tickets in the SRC Welcome Point, the Vic Bar at The Art School and online.