Northern Ireland P3


Between 1979 and 2016 20 music based hospital broadcasting services are known to have started in Northern Ireland,

Ards Hospital Radio in Newtownards was the first music based hospital broadcasting service to have started in Northern Ireland. It started broadcasting on 29 September 1966. On 23 December Ulster Hospital Radio in Dundonald became the second hospital service to start broadcasting.

In September 2016 two services were operating in Northern Ireland: Antrim Hospital Radio and Ulster Hospital Radio. 

  1. Antrim 

1.1 Antrim Hospital Radio (1994)

Antrim Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Antrim Area Hospital in April 1994.

The service was broadcasting to the Antrim Hospital in 2016. 

  1. Belfast

2.1 Radio Musgrave (1983)

“Musgrave may actually have been the first hospital broadcasting service in the Province, as it was understood that, in very early days, some of the hospital staff used to play records on a turntable attached to the distribution system”.

“Later, there was a service at Musgrave Park Hospital Belfast (Radio Musgrave). It was started by a past member from Ulster Hospital Radio”.

Radio Musgrave started broadcasting to the Musgrave Park Hospital in August 1983.

Volunteers from this station were involved in the emerging new Belfast Community Radio Station ‘BCR’

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established.

2.2 Radio Royal (1976)

Radio Royal’ commenced broadcasting in December 1976 to the Royal Victoria Hospital “as an expansion of the hospital chaplains’ religious broadcasting”.

A report dated 13 October 1979 read: “Volunteers from the Ulster Hospital Radio; Ards Hospital Radio; Mater Hospital Radio and the Royal Hospital Radio, aka. Radio Royal had a bed push to raise money and publicise hospital radio. The push visited all four hospitals during the event”.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established.

2.3 Belfast City Hospital Radio (1986)

Belfast City Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Belfast City Hospital on 1 March 1986.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established.

2.4 Mater Hospital Radio (1977)

Mater Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Mater Infirmorum Hospital on 24 December 1977.

A report dated 12 July 2010 stated: “The station is currently off-air. There are issues with regard to the equipment including the transmitter. As you will be aware the service was provided by volunteers and has no funding to enable the purchase of new equipment. It should be noted that other hospital radio services have significant support from both hospital management and sponsors, which is not the case with the service in the Mater. Whether the station will be back on-air or not cannot be confirmed at this point”. 

2.5 Whiteabbey Hospital Radio (1978)

Whiteabbey Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Whiteabbey Hospital in October 1978 “by volunteers who wished to set up a Station in the (large) Belfast City Hospital”.

This station closed circa mid 1990s 

  1. Coleraine

3.1 Causeway Hospital Radio (2001)

Causeway Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the New Causeway Hospital that opened in the spring of 2001 on 15 October 2001.

3.2 Causeway Coast Hospital Radio (Start Date Required)

Causeway Coast Hospital Radio provided a service to the old Coleraine Hospital.

The dates when this service started and ceased broadcasting have not been established. 

  1. Craigavon

4.1 Radio Craigavon (1979)

Radio Craigavon started broadcasting to the Craigavon Area Hospital on 16 December 1979.

“Closed for period and held re-opening of new studio on 25 February 1982.  Attempted to become a Community Radio Station in 1992 for Craigavon area”.

Lurgan Mail of 28 November 2013 reported: “Three members of Radio Craigavon have been presented with long service certificates from the Hospital Broadcasting Association”.

“Gladys Kerr, Rowena Cairns and Anne Angell have collectively chalked up 80 years service in Hospital broadcasting. Gladys joined Radio Craigavon in 1981 as a volunteer ward visitor. She is also a long serving Secretary on the Executive committee.  Rowena joined back in 1988 as volunteer presenter and also happens to be the Station Manager. Anne also joined in 1988 as a presenter and has in the past served on the executive committee”.

“The certificates are for services to Hospital Radio rather than to a specific station although all three spent their time at Craigavon. The certificates were presented by Davey Downes, the NI Hospital Broadcasting Association representative who is also chairman of Mater Hospital Radio in Belfast. “Also present was Jenette Robinson, the HBA regional Secretary”

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An entry on Antrim Hospital Radio’s facebook page of 1 July 2016 read: “We’re very sorry to hear that our friends at Craigavon Hospital Radio have ceased broadcasting and are closing their station today. Some of their members have been with the station for over 30 years and we commend them for their dedication and commitment. We at Antrim Hospital Radio share in the sadness of the news but smile also when we think of the enjoyment and cheer they must have brought to so many people over all those years”. 

  1. Downpatrick

5.1 Downe Hospital Radio (1982)

Downe Hospital Radio started broadcasting in June 1982 to the Downe Hospital.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established. 

  1. Dundonald

6.1 Ulster Hospital Radio (1975)

Ulster Hospital Radio started broadcasting on 23 December 1975 to the Ulster Hospital. “The Ulster Hospital Radio was the second hospital radio station to be established in the Province (Ards beat us by a couple of weeks).”

“As a result of an earlier 1975 advertisement in the local Press for volunteers for Ards Hospital Radio, Brian Willis, a BBC sound recordist, from Dundonald decided to form the Ulster Hospital Radio in the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald on the outskirts of Belfast”. 

“This began with a one-off programme at Christmas 1975, until work was completed in April 1976 on an old BBC sound desk, which Brian had acquired from his employers! The Station closed for a number of years due to lack of volunteers and was refurbished and re-opened in February 2003”.

A report in 2005 stated “The station was formed almost 30 years ago in the Ulster Hospital to provide entertainment to the patients. Ulster Hospital Radio is the longest running stations in Northern Ireland”. 

“From the outset it was decided to design the layout of the Ulster Hospital Radio Station to be a studio plus cubicle complex so as to involve more people and make the operation of the studio a social affair. However the desk could be run as a self operated system but this was rarely done in the early years”.

Don: Bannister reported in 2016: “As an Engineer, I was involved the setting up of the Ulster Hospital Radio (Dundonald – outskirts of East Belfast)”.

For a detailed history of Ulster Hospital Radio go to:Timelines. 

  1. Dungannon

7.1 South Tyrone Hospital Radio (1980)

South Tyrone Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the South Tyrone Hospital in February 1980.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established.

  1. Larne (1986)

8.1 Radio Moyle (1986)

Radio Moyle started broadcasting to the Moyle Hospital in July 1986.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established. 

  1. Lisburn

9.1 Radio Valley Broadcasting Corporation (Start Date Required)

The address of the Radio Valley Broadcasting Corporation was Lagan Valley Hospital, Hillsborough Road.

When this service was provided to the Lagan Valley Hospital has not been established.

  1. Londonderry

10.1 Radio Gransha (1982)

Radio Gransha started broadcasting to the Gransha mental hospital in 1982.

“Known to exist in small mental hospital in 1982 & 1983”.

10.2 Altnagelvin Hospital Radio (1990)  

Altnagelvin Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Altnagelvin Hospital in 1990.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established. 

  1. Magherafelt

11.1 Radio Mid (1980)

Radio Mid started broadcasting to the Mid-Ulster Hospital on 14 September 1980.

The studio was located beneath the hospital building in what was “a bed store” and was susceptible to flooding. 

“Closed 1987 and re-opened 1989”.

On 21 May 2011 the service closed.

The Mid-Ulster Mail of 21 August 2012, in an article headed “Radio Mid gear gathering dust” reported “A FORMER presenter at Radio Mid is appealing for help in getting rid of equipment and CDs now gathering dust at the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt. “I’ve no idea how to get rid of what’s there,” said Alfie Dawson, who presented a gospel show at weekends for 20 years”.

“Chairman Tom McKeown said they would be consulting the station’s constitution to ensure that they are doing everything by the rules. Mr McKeown, who joined the station in 1990, says the equipment – including outdoor broadcasting gear – and CDs were worth around £5,000”.

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  1. Newry

12.1 Radio Daisy Hill (1982)

Radio Valley started broadcasting to the Daisy Hill Hospital on 9 May 1982.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established. 

  1. Newtownards

13.1 Ards Hospital Radio (1975)

Ards Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Newtownards Hospital on 29 September 1975.

It is first music based hospital broadcasting service in Northern Ireland to operate from a studio.

George Morris, a founder member, reported: “Ards Hospital Radio Service, Newtownards, Co Down was set up in September 1975 with the assistance of members of the local Police Community Relations Branch.  They began ‘test’ broadcasting on 15th September and fully on 29th September from 4pm to 6pm”.

Other early members were Billy Caughey, Tony McMullen and Blair Mayne

A newspaper article in 1977 reported “George moving his equipment to the hospital, squatting in the chaplain’s room for lack of a permanent base and set-up as a broadcaster. George’s 700 LPs provide the bulk of the listening”

“Radio Guide” named George as their Hospital Broadcasting Disc Jockey of the Year for 1977.  He remained a member of the service until 1991. 

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established. 

  1. Omagh

14.1 Tyrone County Hospital Radio (1983)

Tyrone County Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Tyrone County Hospital on 9 October 1983.

The date when this service ceased broadcasting has not been established.