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Traditional, roots and folk music has always been the soundtrack to Tom Fahey's life. It's a passion that has been simmering since he was first exposed to jigs and reels, while growing up in Clare in Ireland. But since moving to Edinburgh, Tom has found the perfect medium for sharing his devotion in the form of a weekly roots music radio show, AmericanaOK, syndicated to 12 international radio stations worldwide.
Tom works in Local Government. He spends much of his working day on recycling projects. Once a week, however, his voice reaches a potential audience of millions, in cities as far-flung as Nashville, Vancouver and Hobart, Australia.
When he first moved to Edinburgh, Tom spent a year learning the ropes with community radio stations Leith FM and Radio Free Porty. He soon realised he had grander ambitions.
"When I left Leith FM, I wanted to do my own thing," he says. "I developed the concept for a show specifically based around independent American roots music. It's kind of a niche market. Once I had interest from a couple of radio stations, the word just spread. And what started off as a cottage industry is now being broadcast around the world for 29 hours a week!


Very much an enthusiast of digital technology, Tom puts his show together from the comfort of his own home."It's all PC based," he says. "I've got a home studio set up with USB microphones and my own little mixing desk. And, as well as the broadcast, the show is available as a podcast. It's been downloaded over 150,000 to date.
Although AmericanaOK is run on a voluntary basis, the show earned itself a strong reputation amongst both listeners and industry professionals. It's not just about cueing up the CDs: Tom has recorded exclusive sessions with some of the rising stars of the independent scene. He also contributes to both the Euro Americana and Freeform American Roots charts.


Tom is the first to admit that Americana may not be to everyone's taste, but stresses that it's a genre that is too often misunderstood. "I understand the prejudice," he sighs. "People think it's all about the country music cliche - line dancing and that, which is frankly embarrassing. It's about real people and their real lives and you can trace the history of the music right back to Scots and Irish traditional music. Sceptics should check out classic artists like Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris that's the real deal.
But it's not just about established acts. Tom is also championing less-established musicians, so much so that he's released a compilation CD, That's AmericanaOK, with 15 tracks by new artists featured on the show.The idea behind the CD is very much in keeping with the non-profit ethos of the show. "All of the artists donated a track for free," says Tom. "Most of the artists I play are self-producing, making use of inexpensive equipment and selling their music over the Internet.
"It's all part of wider, independent grassroots movement," he adds. "We're not in this for the money - we're doing it for the love."

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