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T. V. (Tommy) Shields

The man behind Radio Scotland - Thomas Vernon (Tommy) Shields - had previously worked as a newspaper reporter, publicity agent, foreign correspondent and advertising executive.

As early as 1961, while working as Press Secretary at Scottish Television (STV), Tommy Shields first had the idea of owning a commercial radio station. He was writing a biography of STV’s owner Roy (later Lord) Thomson and discovered during research that the press baron’s empire had been founded on a small commercial radio station in Canada.

After leaving STV Tommy started his own advertising agency - TVS Publicity. In 1964 when Radio Caroline came on the air as Britain’s first offshore station, Tommy’s thoughts returned to the research he had undertaken on Lord Thomson and decided it was time to look at starting a station himself to serve his native Scotland.

The result was of course Radio Scotland, and Tommy played a very active ‘hands-on’ role both in setting up the station and, after it had begun broadcasting, the day to day running and promotion of Scotland’s only offshore radio station.

Tommy briefly considered standing for Parliament in the Pollock by-election of 1967, but decided against this in order to give his full attention to running Radio Scotland.

Despite efforts to persuade the Government not to outlaw the offshore stations and introduce land-based commercial radio Radio Scotland closed in August 1967 just minutes ahead of the Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act coming into force.

Tommy told the Sun newspaper, "This is the saddest day of my life. I tried everything to keep the station on the air. I even offered the Government a controlling interest. I appealed for a trial licence to broadcast from land and meet any tax demands the Government wanted to impose. I intend to keep our organisation together as much as possible in the hope that sometime in the near future we may have a chance of getting back on the air."

Tommy Shields never realised his dream of owning a land-based commercial radio station as, unfortunately, he died (aged only 49)  about six months after Radio Scotland had closed - not from a ‘broken heart’ as was widely reported at the time - but from a long-standing kidney complaint.


A Parliamentary by-election took place in the Glasgow constituency of Pollok on 9th March 1967 following the death of the serving MP, Alex Garrow. The seat was marginal, having been won by Labour at the 1966 General Election, with a majority of under 2,000 votes.

In January 1967 Tommy Shields announced that he intended standing in the by-election as an independent candidate to promote the introduction of commercial radio. He also intended to use airtime on Radio Scotland to publicise his candidature. Tommy Shields later decided not to stand in the by-election, but Radio Scotland did actively promote candidates who favoured the introduction of commercial radio.

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About Radio Scotland

Tommy Shields

242 Magazine




The Times, 9th January 1967

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The Times, 17th January 1967

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The Times, 6th February 1967

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Radio News, 24th January 1967

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