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‘It’s the right time’: Legendary radio host Ally Bally hosts final Radio Tay show

Martel Maxwell Ally Bally
Ally Bally hosted his last show on Radio Tay on December 27.

A Tayside radio star whose voice is a familiar sound to generations of listeners will be switching his mic off for the final time – after four decades in the business.

In 1980 Arthur Ballingall stepped through the doors of the newly created Radio Tay studios.

And under a new nickname, ‘Ally Bally‘ would go on to become a household name across the region.

He has entertained generations of listeners over the past 40 years and has covered a whole host of major events.

However, on Sunday he will host his final show, as the presenter says goodbye to the station and looks forward to new challenges.

Ally first joined Radio Tay while it was still under construction in August 1980, before hitting the airwaves for the first time as a part-time weekend presenter in October of the same year.

In 1981, he joined the station full-time as a sales executive but was determined to get behind the microphone and in September 1981 he took over the Breakfast Show from Mark Goodier.

Ally said: “Before I joined Radio Tay, I was an area manager for the company that is now B&Q.

“I was approached about starting at Radio Tay and was asked to join their sales team. I said I was interested but sales wasn’t really for me, I wanted to be behind the mic.

“They got me on board though and my late wife said to me ‘are you off your head’ and I maybe was as I took a massive pay cut and moved up to Forfar from Fife however it definitely seems to have paid off.

“The change in radio presenting from then to now is phenomenal. The technology is so different.

“I remember I used to go in for my shifts and there would be two turntables and a cassette player, now we have at least seven computers in front of us but that allows us the ability to not only broadcast to Tayside but I am also on air in six other regions at the same time too.

“When I did my breakfast show for 12 years back in the early 80s, I used to get up every morning at 4am and go into my office which had all my records.

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Ally receives his Sony award from TV personality Sarah Green.

“There were shelves and shelves of them but they weren’t in alphabetical order, they were in order based on what the weather was outside.

“So I had a rainy day section, a sunny day section and I would pick what I was going to play from them.”

It was when he was starting his breakfast shows that suddenly he was no longer known as Arthur Ballingall – but instead Ally Bally.

He explained: “The name wasn’t a childhood nickname or anything like that it was actually when I was about to start my breakfast show and they had to create a jingle for me.

“Kenny Page was the man in charge of making all the jingles up and he came to me one day and said he just could not get the surname Ballingall to work so he told me he had changed my name a bit and I was just to listen.

“It kept going on about this Ally Bally and I asked him who that was and he replied ‘you!’.

“He was right to change it though and now it has stuck. I have a lot to thank him for actually.”

Over the years Ally has covered a number of events but one of his most notable is the day the RRS Discovery came back to Dundee.

“There was a wee boat that was going out to the mouth of the Tay to collect the boat and lead it back to Dundee,” he said.

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A promotional image advertising the show in 1985.

“I was given the chance to go on the boat and since we thought it would only be about an hour out we decided I would present live from the boat – it ended up being much further than we thought and I was live from the boat from midday to seven at night.

“It was an amazing thing to experience though.”

In more recent times Ally has also held the positions of Programme Director and managing director as well as Regional Managing Director-Scotland North (Tay, Northsound, MFR).

Now he will go on to face new challenges although he’s not quite sure what they are yet.

He said: “Although this year has been challenging for everyone, it has allowed me some time for reflection on what an amazing career I’ve had with Tay for the past 40 years.

“With this in mind, and with so many great memories under my belt, I feel it’s the right time for me to take on something new.

“I am definitely not retiring though I just want to do something new and let the young ones come in to radio.

“So I would like to thank every single one of my listeners from the past 40 years and also – give me a job if you have one.”

Ally’s final show will be on Sunday December 27 at 10am-1pm and his replacement will be announced in due course.

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