Two music based services started in Leeds in the 1960s. Thirty years later, in the early 1990s, five services were operating.
See Part 2. Leeds (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
1.1 Leeds General Infirmary Broadcasting Unit (1960)
In 1990 Cindy Brown wrote: “Leeds General Infirmary Broadcasting Unit was born on 23 August 1960. It sprang from an idea mooted at a meeting of the Joint Staffs Consultative Committee (JSCC) of which I was secretary. I believe the idea came from Charles Hullighan, Head Porter, and Dennis Appleby, a senior member of the Medical Physics Dept staff. It was passed on for approval to the Board of Governors of the United Leeds Hospitals and having gained favour money was allocated from the ULH Endowment Fund to set up the programme”.
“The JSCC decided in fairness that auditions should be held and a BBC producer from up the road in Woodhouse Lane was invited as impartial judge. Fifteen people were auditioned and four chosen amongst which I was amazed to find myself. The other two young ladies chosen were Jean McIntyre, a clerical officer, and Nancy walker. The only man on the presenting team was Bob Dobson, deputy medical records officer. Charles Hullighan, previously mentioned, was producer”.
The Yorkshire Evening News of July 29th, 1960, reported: ‘Programmes will be formally opened by a personal message from George Martin, Chairman of United Leeds Hospital Board and for an hour every Tuesday evening patients will hear records requested for and by them. The programme will be relayed through the patients’ own headphones and through the ward loudspeakers”.
The broadcasts took place from a studio in a tiny room next to the chapel in the Leeds General Infirmary.
In June 1962 the one hundredth programme took place and by the winter of 1963 the programme schedule had expanded: Patients’ Request Programme (Tuesday), Juke Box Jury and Sports Desk (Friday) and a Chapel service (Sunday).
The hospital’s magazine ‘Staff’ reported in 1963: “The hospital Juke Box Jury is a weekly programme presented every Friday at 12.30pm. On 2nd August, 1963, comedian Tony Hancock and Leeds singer, Ronnie Hilton, took part in this programme”. It was at about this time that the name of the organisation became Radio PBS (Patients Broadcasting Service. Also at about this time Jimmy Saville was embarking on his career and became one of the presenters.
By 1964 the service had added yet another live programme, broadcasting a show each Thursday from the ‘Clinical Theatre’. Any star appearing in the city was approached and asked to take part (guests included Eartha Kitt, Lulu and Engelbert Humperdink).
Barbara Audsley, Secretary of the Patients Broadcasting Service in 1990, wrote: “As we expanded programmes became more frequent and outside broadcasts were carried out with a tape recorder, visiting various theatres in the area and even as far as Bridlington for summer shows. The coup d’etat at that time was a live telephone link up with a patient speaking to relatives in Jersey.
Ten years later we moved into the existing studio further down the corridor and upgraded in 1980. At the beginning of November 1983 it was decided to renew our studio. With the studio being so small it was redesigned to make maximum use of the space we had and with new equipment the studio was ready for use within two weeks. Even amongst the shavings and loose wires we managed to do a successful outside broadcast on Christmas Day. The studio has remained like this until the present day. In 1988 we made contact with Stan Dawson of the Leeds Hospitals Relay Association and now give a full sports service of Leeds football, rugby and cricket matches from EIland Road and Headingley. These are broadcast on the network from Leeds General Infirmary to St James, Seacroft and Killingbeck Hospitals”.
Barbara added: “During the Falklands war we did some programmes to the Royal Navy ships involved in the conflict. These included HMS Ajax, HMS Broadsword and Whalebone Cove. At present we have forty members, eight specialise in the sports line and four in the religious programmes. The remaining members are presenters and studio assistants who cover all the weekly programmes. The service broadcasts for 66 hours per week. We have four long serving members of at least fifteen years each. They are Alan Shackleton, Studio Manager, Bill Rowe, who runs the religious programmes, presenter Bob Parker and myself. I would like to mention the work we do for placements of students from schools and colleges, giving them an insight into broadcasting and training on the use of equipment”.
In 2015 City Sound Hospital Radio Leeds was broadcasting to the Leeds General Infirmary.
1.2 Friends of St James’s Hospital (1963)
A service called ‘Friends of St James’s Hospital’ started in September, 1963, at St James’s Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations had the following entry: 24 members, serving one hospital, start date September, 1963. Contact: Mrs V C Cameron.
In 1992 Sue Lemass, Voluntary Services Manager of St James’s University Hospital wrote: “The service is still operating as part of the Friends of St James’s University Hospital. It has greatly expanded its children’s wards broadcasting programmes. We are fortunate in that Mrs Vanda Cameron remains with us as one of our most experienced and long standing broadcasters – others are Jim Hall and Hans Crouch. Broadcasting hours cover afternoons, evenings and weekends. There are thirty plus members”.
Service was removed from charity register on 20 May 2002.
1.3 Seacroft and Killingbeck Executive Broadcasting Association (1975)
The Seacroft and Killingbeck Executive Broadcasting Association (SKEBA) was formed on 15 October 1975 and shortly afterward commenced broadcasting from a porta-cabin located in the grounds of the Seacroft Hospital. It was formally opened by Ronnie Hilton.
The original members of the service were: Gordon Tollefson, Bill Maddrell, Mike Alexander, Bill Perkins, Brian Cooke and Margaret Ellison. After 4 years the service moved to a new studio within the hospital complex. This was provided by the ‘Friends of Seacroft and Killingbeck Hospitals’.
In early 1979 the service moved into what was a part of the old nurses’s home.
Peter Tong, the chairman of SKEBA in 1990, wrote: “We broadcast each weekday evening from 7pm to 10pm and all our programmes are request based. The first hour of broadcasting is for the children. All those children who have a request played receive a certificate. Presently our staff total approx 25. We broadcast to both Seacroft & Killingbeck Hospitals and are very well received by both patients and staff. We normally play around 35/40 requests each evening. At the moment seven of our members have served the station for ten years or more: Andy Evans, Adrian Bulmer, Paul Aspinall, Steve McGrail, Robin Clayton, David Stankler (who has just resigned) and myself”.
In 2006, the station merged with Radio Allerton and the following year SKEBA ceased broadcastng.
1.4 Radio Allerton (1978)
On Saturday 11 March 1978 Radio Allerton began broadcasting to the Allerton Hospital.
In April 2012 Francis Klonowski, Radio Allerton’s Chairman reported: “In 1993 the original hospital site was closed, and patients were transferred to the new Chapel Allerton Hospital, built by extending what had been the hospital’s Newton Green Wing. At first there was no room available for our studio, but eventually in 1997 space was found. A new studio with improved equipment was painstakingly built from scratch by our long-serving station engineer Mike Turner, and broadcasting recommenced on 3rd April 1999”.
In 2006, the station merged with Radio Skeba from Seacroft Hospital. Shortly afterward a play-out system was installed – enabling the service to broadcast 24 hours per day.
On 26 November 2011 a new studio was officially opened by Andrew Edwards of BBC Radio Leeds. “The old studio will continue to be used as a record library, as well as providing a working area for programme preparation and a guest waiting area”.
In 2016 Radio Allerton was broadcasting to the Chapel Allerton Hospital.
1.5 Radio Popular (1987)
A service called Radio Poplar started broadcasting at St Mary’s Hospital in 1987. The original members included Geoff Grimes, Ted Tate, Barry Hill, David Nugent and Stephen Smith.
In 1992 the service had ten members and was broadcasting 15 hours per week.
See Part 2. Leicester (About 1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
2.1 Hospital Radio Fox (1988)
Radio Fox began in the early 1980’s when the 3 founder members met in a pub near Leicester to discuss the idea of a hospital radio service. Initially they were looking to broadcast to the then recently opened Glenfield Hospital but eventually the Leicester Royal Infirmary was chosen – at that time the biggest hospital in the UK without its own hospital radio service.
After several years of fund raising the station began broadcasting on 23 April 1988 from a converted portacabin in the grounds of the Royal. “Bob Machon was the first voice heard on air – he marked the occasion by presenting the opening show in dinner jacket and dickie bow!”.
“In 1990 we commenced broadcasting to the Glenfield after funds were raised to install a landline and a year later work began on our current studio complex, which was ready for use in 1995. Two years later both studios were completed and 7 day a week broadcasting began the same year”.
“In 2004 improvements were made to our studios, allowing us to broadcast separate shows to each hospital for the first time. And a year later we went 24/7 for the first time, thanks to the purchase of a computer playout system, which has helped us to extend the breadth of programmes we offer”.
From 2012 Radio Fox began its internet streaming service.
“This now means patients can continue to listen to Radio Fox when they leave hospital on their home computer. Also patients family and friends can listen to our Patients Requests shows from home and call in to the studio to request a song for their relative. We also have listeners from all over the world. Radio Fox can now be heard by anyone with a computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, internet radio, or internet enabled television”.
In 2016 Radio Fox was broadcasting to the Leicester Royal Infirmary and the Glenfield Hospital.
2.2 Radio Gwendolen (1974)
Radio Gwendolen started broadcasting to the Leicester General Hospital on 15 August 1974.
“Set up in 1974 by 2 schoolteachers – Ray Lovejoy and Bernard Smith – the station has evolved from broadcasting in a broom cupboard to its current home in a purpose built two-studio complex within the hospital”..
Leicester Mercury. 7 August 2014 reported on the service’s 40 year history.
June Snowden, president of the National Hospital Broadcasting Association, visited the station during the celebrations. “The volunteers should be proud and I hope they enjoy many more years of success. I have been a hospital broadcaster for 40 years and I know how much time, dedication and commitment volunteers give.
In 2016 the service, on 1287AM, was broadcasting from a studio in the Leicester General Hospital.
See Part 3 – A to C. 50.1 Crewe.
See Part 2. Liverpool (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
4.1 Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network (1958)
On 23 August 1956 the sports commentary service operated by the Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network in Liverpool was extended to cover record request programmes. The service, which was broadcast from a studio at the GPO’ Lancaster House Telephone Exchange, proved immensely popular, so much so that one programme per week proved to be insufficient.
By 30 June 1958 two programmes per week were being relayed to 37 hospitals in Liverpool, Wrexham, Chester, Ormskirk, Heswall, Rainhill, Wallasey, Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port and Bebington. The largest network of hospitals in the world to receive a hospital broadcast from a single studio.
An article on the Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network, written in 1973, read: “Although the Network covers the whole of Merseyside, the Walton Hospital League of Friends remains the organising committee. They provide the necessary equipment, with two of its members, Mr Ken Martin and Mr Cyril Richardson appointed to control and produce the sports and record request programmes respectively. These broadcasts are transmitted over a closed circuit GPO landline network.
All the necessary telephone lines (except those to Walton Hospital, which are paid for by the Walton Hospital League of Friends) are financed by the Merseyside Hospitals Council Inc. at a cost of approximately £1,300 per annum. Before every broadcast a check is made with the GPO engineers at Trunk Test, Lancaster House, Liverpool to ensure that the transmission is going out loud and clear from the broadcasting point, and it then up to the hospitals to arrange the necessary switching over on their radio systems from BBC to the hospital’s network.
In addition to the football, boxing and record request programmes, many other broadcasts have been made by the Network including church services, variety shows and outside broadcasts. For many years the Controller of the Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network was the late Mr Jack Worthington, MBE, who guided it through its early stages to put it on a firm footing. Others who have played their part in the advance of the network over the years have been Frank Conlan, Vic Stephens, Ray Head, Rev David Bevan, Walter Stukeley and Tom Dempsey. The present broadcasting team led by Ken Martin and Cyril Richardson, has the brothers Tonu and Ralph Ferrigno on the sports side as well as Joe Palmer who is also a disc jockey who assists on the record request shows with Geoff Malone”.
The 33 hospitals receiving the service in 1973 included the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, Ormskirk General Hospital, Clatterbridge Hospital, Chester City and General Hospitals, Wrexham Maelor and War Memorial Hospitals, St Helens Hospital and Aintree Hospital.
Over the years hospital broadcasting services started up in many of the hospitals once served solely by the Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network, including services in Liverpool at Broadgreen General Hospital, Newsham General Hospital, Fazakerly Hospital and Alder Hey Hospital.
4.2 Radio Royal (1970)
One service in Liverpool was recorded in NABHO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations: Radio Royal, formed in December 1970. Studio address: Liverpool Royal Infirmary. 30 members. Number of hospitals served: 32.
The 32 hospitals receiving the service from Radio Royal formed the landline network established by the Merseyside Hospitals Radio Network (see 4.1) that had relayed both a commentary service and, since 1958, a record request programme. When Radio Royal was formed it took over the responsibility for presenting music based programmes.
4.3 Polar Sound (Pre 1991)
In 1990 a service called Polar Sound was broadcasting to the Ashworth Hospital – North.
4.4 Radio Rathbone (Pre 1991)
In 1990 a service called Radio Rathbone was broadcasting to the Rathbone Hospital.
4.5 Sunshine Radio (Pre 1980)
Sunshine Radio provided a service to the Fazackerley Hospital.
Jon Jessop was a member of the service from 1979 to 1984.
On 30 January 2002 it was removed from the charity register.
4.6 Radio Newsham (1975)
Radio Newsham started broadcasting in 1975 from a room at Newsham General Hospital in Anfield.
In 1982 the service was approached by Broadgreen Hospital’s administration to set up a new radio service for the Broadgreen Hospital.
“To accommodate the operation of two hospital radio services, Radio Newsham changed its charity name to Liverpool Hospital Broadcasting Service and after some fundraising, Radio Broadgreen started broadcasting in October 1983”. See 4.7.
Both stations broadcast in harmony until 1988 when a dwindling patient population and the need to cut costs left the Liverpool Area Health Authority with no option but to close down Newsham General Hospital and with it the Radio Newsham broadcasting service.
4.7 Radio Broadgreen (1983)
Radio Broadgreen, which was set up by Radio Newsham (see 4.6), was formally opened as part of the Liverpool Hospital Broadcasting Service on 19 October 1983 by the Lord Lieutenant A.E. Stoddart.
“Many of the Radio Newsham staff would have to do a programme at Newsham hospital and then a second programme at Broadgreen hospital each week”.
In 1997, after 13 years of broadcasting within the hospital building itself, the old caretakers lodge house within Broadgreen Hospital was given to Radio Broadgreen for the station to use as its permanent base.
In 2016 the service was still broadcasting live from the old caretakers lodge house.
- London Boroughs & City of London
See London Section that cover the history of music based services in 24 London Boroughs and the City of London.
See Part 1. Tottenham (About 1935) for the early history of the first sports commentary service.
See Part 2. London for the early history of the sports commentary that started in London in the 1950s & 1960s.
6.1 Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service (1976)
The radio station began 35 years ago in 1976, when it started broadcasting as fledgling hospital radio station known as Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations had the following entry: Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service. Loughborough General Hospital. Contact: M Brindley.
In 1999 it applied to broadcast on medium wave and following a name change to Carillon Radio was granted the licence in 2000, becoming the smallest hospital radio station in the country to afford this status.
A report in 2009 read: “The station is now the first hospital broadcaster in the country to become a community radio station, through their new service Hermitage FM, broadcasting to the people of North-West Leicestershire, whilst their sister radio station, Carillon Road, continues to broadcast to the community hospitals at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Melton Mowbray, Coalville and Oakham”.
7.1 Radio Service at Louth County Hospital (Date Started Required)
A hospital broadcasting service that operated at the Louth County Hospital closed in about 1984.
7.2 Spire Hospital Radio (1988)
Spire Hospital Radio was formed in February 1987, when five former members of the nearby Grimsby Hospital Radio, Joanne Wright, Teresa Doe, Gary Payne and John and Yvonne Williamson, approached the hospital authorities interested in resurrecting a Hospital Radio service for the patients of Louth County Hospital.
“The station that had previously provided this service closed some three years earlier and the five were acutely aware of the benefits that such a service could bring to the patients”.
Whilst the necessary funds were being raised the hospital management located a room central to all of the wards in the Louth Hospital where the service could have a studio.
On Saturday 6 August 1988 Spire Hospital Radio went ‘On Air’.
The launch of weekend evening programmes came in 1989, and it was at this time that the station was able to link up with the Louth Methodist Church. With the advent of Hospital Radio, they were now able to broadcast their church service to all the patients at one time.
The year also saw the extension of the Spire service to a local nursing home, Madeira House.
In December 1990 the station was granted a Special Events Licence by the Home Office, Spire Hospital Radio transmitted its programmes for twenty days to the people of Louth on medium wave. “The Christmas broadcast was so successful that in June 1991 Spire became the first Hospital Radio station in the country to be a granted a Restricted Service Licence (RSL) by the Radio Authority, and once again broadcast to the town, this time for 28 days”.
In November 1993 the service opened their fully refurbished and re-equipped studio.
“July 1996 saw another month of Spire broadcasting to the local district. As 105.4 Spire Festival Radio, the station was the first Hospital Radio station in the country to be granted a 25 watt FM RSL and for twenty-eight days linked up with the Louth Music Arts Festival”.
See Part 2. Luton (1953/54) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
8.1 Luton & Dunstable Hospital Radio (1965)
The Luton & Dunstable Hospital Radio service started broadcasting in 1965 to the Lister Hospital in Hitchin and to Luton & Dunstable Hospital from a studio at the Red House in Harpenden.
In 1972 the service was extended to a new larger hospital in Stevenage.
The station moved to temporary premises at Luton & Dunstable Hospital in 1980 and moved again in August 1981 to a two studio complex within the same hospital.
On the 29 August 2004 the service started broadcasting on 1134 AM.
In 2016 Luton & Dunstable Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital.
9.1 New Forest Hospital Radio (1978)
The Lymington Hospital Broadcasting Association was formed in 1973 by Mike Race, Steve Hesketh and Barry van Geffen. In 1974 they were allocated an old paint store at the Lymington Infirmary and in 1975 they started to convert it into a studio, record library and an office.
On Christmas Eve 1978 the first official programme was broadcast to the Infirmary day room via speakers. In 1978 the service also received approval for the addition of GPO land lines. .The following year, in 1979, Sunday programmes were relayed not just to the Infirmary but also by land line to Linden House, then a home for the blind.
In March 1981 a full daily service commenced with a library of about 5,000 records, 8 years after the first idea. It offered a whole range of music, news, information, requests, interviews and special feature programmes. The services also adapted the working name “Radio Link”.
In 2001 “BT discovered and disconnected the land line to Linden House for which they had not charged for some years. Rather than pay the back money, Linden House was provided with a Mini Disc player and their show was recorded for them on MD. They were then able to play it several times each week”.
In 2003 it was announced that the Lymington Infirmary was to close and that patients would be transferred to a new hospital called the “Lymington New Forest Hospital”. Radio Link was off air for 5 months for the first time in its history except for the Linden House show “which Tony Clark recorded every week in a spare bedroom at his home”.
Broadcasting resumed from a temporary studio at the Lymington Infirmary and this continued until a new studio could be established at the New Forest Hospital.
During 2004 discussion took place with the Solent Mead care home in Lymington to provide a similar request programme to Linden House. A pilot show was recorded in October and from early 2005 it became a regular fortnightly recorded show.
In 2006 it was decided to rename the service as “New Forest Hospital Radio”.
Access to the new hospital was given in late November 2006 and by mid December the new studio was in and working. The last broadcast to the old hospital took place on the evening of Thursday 28 Dec 2006.
The next day the library and other studio items were moved between hospitals at the same time as the patients. “A check around the wards by the request collectors revealed many beds without headsets connected and of those that had them many had either no sound or interference. Sadly plans to start broadcasting to the hospital wards on 30th Dec had to be abandoned”.
In January 2007 further problems were identified with the hospital patient entertainment system. The first broadcast to the hospital eventually took place 5 weeks late, on 3 February. However, the shortage of headsets continued, many beds did not work and eventually on 26 March it was decided to suspend broadcasts again.
After a rethink and major work by the company that installed the patient entertainment system, broadcasts were eventually restarted on 1 October after just over 6 months off air.
Between March and October 2007 the studio did continue to be used but only for the recording of the weekly Linden House and fortnightly Solent Mead shows and presenters’ familiarisation with the new Myriad computerised playout system.
In 2011 the service installed equipment that permitted “Streaming of our broadcasts via the NFHR website so that members involved in producing or presenting shows could hear and monitor our broadcasts at home”.
In 2015 regular monthly shows were started for four local Colten Care homes, each show made available as a podcast on the New Forest Hospital Radio website and downloaded by the care home for play-out from memory stick on mp3 players.