By Hamish MacKay
Scotland’s newest radio station – Talk107 – has hired Simon Pia, The Scotsman’s former diary writer, as co-presenter of one of its flagship news and current affairs programmes.
High-profile Pia was one of seven journalists surprisingly made compulsorily redundant by The Scotsman late last year.
Pia will co-present the Monday to Friday Drive slot which will be aired from 4-7pm. A co-presenter will be announced shortly.
The Edinburgh-based station, which launches on 14 February, plans to hire 16 presenters.
Already on board is Stephen Jardine, who fronts a wide range of programmes for Scottish Television, including news flagship Scotland Today. The former GMTV reporter and Edinburgh Evening News columnist will present his own Saturday morning show.
Nine broadcasting journalists will staff the newsroom at Scotland’s first talk radio station and the only one in the UK outside London. Heading the newsroom team is news editor Gwen Laurie.
Laurie, from Ayrshire, who switched from being a trainee lawyer to journalism in 1993, has worked for most ILR stations in Scotland and is a former head of news and features at Wave 102 in Dundee. She has spent the last five years working in radio in London.
Joining her from Kingdom Radio in Fife as deputy news editor is Gordon Chree.
Laurie has already recruited Catherine Brown and Joe Odber, from Real Radio; Christina Mackay, from NorthSound Radio; and Lisa Bacon, from BBC local radio in England.
A sports editor and a further two broadcast journalists will join the station shortly.
Talk107, which is a 24-hour station, will have breakfast and drivetime extended programmes, specials at 1pm and 6pm, and news bulletins every halfhour.
The station, which will employ 40 staff, will broadcast from new studios at South Gyle, Edinburgh.
The station is owned by Ulster Television (UTV), which inherited the new Edinburgh FM licence when it bought Kelvin MacKenzie’s Wireless Group, including a raft of Scottish stations, for £98.2m last May.
UTV says it is confident of its business model for Talk107, despite what are regarded as the high costs of talk radio.
It expects to boost revenue by 50 per cent across its new UK radio division.
The company said revenue at the former Wireless stations was up five per cent in the six months since the acquisition – which it said should “comfortably outperform the radio advertising market” in the UK.