Between 1957 and 2016 32 music based hospital broadcasting services are known to have started in Scotland in 26 towns and cities. 20 of these services were still operating in 2016.
The first studio based broadcast in Scotland took place from an electrical store in Dundee in 1959 (Radio Tayside). The second music based service in Scotland started in Edinburgh in 1962 (Forth Radio Network). Other services starting in Scotland in the 1960s were: Radio Law (Carluke) 1967, Radio Lennox (Alexandria) 1969 and Glasgow & West HBS in 1969.
In 1987 a total of 112 hospitals in Scotland received a hospital broadcasting service.
In the 1960s the Forth Radio Network (later renamed Edinburgh Hospital Broadcasting Service) relayed its service to 18 hospitals. The largest network of hospitals in Scotland.
See Part 2. Aberdeen (1956) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
1.1 Grampian Hospital Radio (1980)
Grampian Hospital Radio (GHR) was formed in February 1980 and first went on air on 14 January 1981, broadcasting to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.
A studio was established in the basement of the Nurses Home at the Royal Infirmary, where the service was still operating from in 2016. The first record played on the newly christened Grampian Hospital Radio was “The Continental” by Maureen McGovern.
The next major events for Grampian Hospital Radio were the “Restricted Service Licences (RSLs)”, meaning the service could be heard outside of the hospitals for the first time in its history. There were 3 RSL broadcasts, the first on an AM frequency and the latter 2 were both presented on FM.
In 1992 Grampian Hospital Radio started a service called Radio Rainbow at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. The service first went on air on the 5 August 1992 from a studio in the Children’s Hospital. The first record played was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.
The original Rainbow studio was located just opposite the old mailroom in Children’s Hospital and in 1995 the service moved to a newer studio. Radio Rainbow broadcast on 945 AM from its opening in 1992 until December 2003.
In 2016 Grampian Hospital Radio was providing a service to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and Roxburghe House. Radio Rainbow was broadcasting in the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
2.1 Monklands & District Broadcasting Service (Start Date Required)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entries: (1) Monklands Hospital Radio Service. Contact: Nelson Morrison. (2) Airdrie. Contact: Harvey Riddell.
The Monklands Hospital Radio provided a service programmes to the Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.
The service, which later on became known as Radio Heartbeat, closed in late 2009 after burst water pipes destroyed the studio.
Irene Dick, station manager said: “The power had been cut off but the water was left on and, after the big freeze and thaw, they burst, flooding and destroying everything, including three broadcast studios, computers and 30,000 CDs which we will never be able to replace. All the office equipment is gone, from the fax machine to the shredder. We have been broadcasting for 30 years and we have 25 volunteers who are itching to carry on with the station”.
Irene added: “We had been off air since Easter when the hospital disconnected us”. The building they were in was set to be demolished to make way for the new Maggie’s Centre. “We have been told there is no space in the hospital for us and that we can put a portable cabin in the grounds but it will cost us £25,000 because we will have to provide disabled toilets and access and we simply don’t have the money.”
3.1 Radio Lennox (1969)
In 1967/68 identical twins, John & Peter Douglas, were running a tape recording and HI-FI club in the new community centre in Dumbarton and before long many of the members were looking for an outlet for their recordings. John and Peter had worked for the Forth Radio Network (the Edinburgh based hospital broadcasting service), so together with their friends they approached the matron of the community hospital, the Vale of Leven District General in Alexandria, with a view to starting a similar service.
Radio Lennox was born in September 1969, with seven members, each of whom paid a 10/- membership fee. Some of the other original members were Sam Graham, David Andrew and Bill Gilliland. By the end of the fIrst year the membership had risen to nine and the service was well established.
The original name was “Lennox Hospital Broadcasting Service”, Lennox being the old name of the area which it served. In the early years programmes were confined to Wednesday evenings and consisted of requests, gathered the day before, recorded elsewhere and played back on a tape recorder through the hospital radio system. Shortly thereafter a Sunday morning programme was begun. There was also a taped programme that was played in the wards of Strathclyde House, an old folks home in the area. This hospital never really joined the service and the taped programme was discontinued.
With the membership and the popularity of the new service growing premises were acquired within the hospital and a studio was built in stages in the early 1970s. Broadcasting was still restricted, however, to one night per week and Sunday mornings. One interesting item of expenditure on 31/3/70 was 8/6d for a Des O’Connor record! Gradually the membership increased, the studio facilities improved and broadcasting was extended to three evenings and Sundays. Studio is perhaps a misnomer since the room was part of the porters facilities and was still shared by them. All the equipment was built into a long desk and covered with a wooden lid when not in use.
At this time the name of the service was changed to ‘Dumbarton & District Hospital Broadcasting Service’ with the call sign ‘Radio Lennox’. The service was also broadcast, via a land line, to the Joint and Cottage Hospitals in Dumbarton.
When the Joint Hospital closed in 1980 the Cottage (a geriatric hospital) also withdrew. Saturday broadcasts, and with them a long association with Dumbarton Football Club, began in 1978. The next major change took place in 1983 with the service moving into a suite of rooms in the Nurses Home. By 1986 the membership, which for many years had been between 15-20, had risen to 42.
In 1993 “Hospital Radio Lennox” had 32 members and was broadcasting 23.5 hours per week to the Vale of Leven (District General) Hospital. Robert Henry, Arthur Shields and James Cameron had been members for more than 15 years.
The service was broadcasting to the Vale of Leven Hospital in 2016.
See Part 2. Arbroath (Late 1950s) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
4.1 Radio North Angus (1980 Arbroath)
Radio North Angus is a company based in Arbroath that in 2016 operates as an Independent Local Radio Station on a voluntary basis, in the county of Angus, Scotland. The Service was co-founded by Malcolm Finlayson and Ian Clark, who had previously been involved in broadcasting from 1969, and had operated a radio station from 1973.
Initially Radio North Angus commenced broadcasting by closed circuit transmissions at Stracathro Hospital located in Brechin, on 9 January 1979. See 6. Brechin for further information.
During the next six years Radio North Angus established additional hospital radio stations at the Arbroath Infirmary (28 October 1980), Forfar Infirmary 3 June 1985 (see 15. Forfar) and fortnightly services at Radio North Angus, Brechin Infirmary, Whitehills Hospital in Forfar and Little Cairnie Hospital in Arbroath.
The smaller hospitals in Angus at Whitehills in Forfar, the Montrose Infirmary (see 23. Montrose) and Little Cairnie Hospital, Arbroath were initially catered for by means of out-housed mobile control desks.
In 1996, RNA was granted permission by the Radio Authority, the radio regulator, to site low-powered FM transmitters at Stracathro and Arbroath Infirmary.
Although designed to serve in-patients, the broadcasts were audible for a two mile radius.
An application for a licence was lodged with the Radio Authority, with the proposal to establish Britain’s first health care radio. There followed a competitive contracting process, resulting in RNA being awarded an Independent Local Radio licence and transmissions commenced in November 1998.
In 2016: “Radio North Angus is a company limited by guarantee, with voluntary and charitable status, and operates the Independent Local Radio Station in Angus, in conjunction with hospital radio services at Stracathro Hospital, Montrose and Brechin Infirmaries, and Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre, Forfar”.
“The Local Radio broadcasts on 96.6FM and 107.5FM, operates on a 7 day per week, 16 hours a day basis, and serves a population in excess of 40,000 residents including Arbroath, Carnoustie, the majority of Monifieth, and a significant part of the county. RNA also operates a radio station at Montrose Royal Infirmary on 87.7 FM, which covers most of the town, and a radio station continues to broadcast at Stracathro Hospital on 87.7FM.”
“Both stations are used constantly for programme presentation linked to the Arbroath station by broadband thus creating a network for live programming from each centre”. The signal is re-broadcast at Brechin Infirmary, and at the Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre, Forfar, on 87.7FM, and although transmissions are designed to serve these establishments exclusively, the signal can be received in most areas of Brechin and Forfar”.
See Part 2. Ayr (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
5.1 Ayr Hospital Radio (1981)
On 28 November 1953 the Ayr Hospitals Relay Radio started broadcasting football commentaries from Somerset Park, the home to Ayr United Football Club, with music being played before the match and again at half-time.
In 1981 a three-and-a-half hour Record Programme started on Sundays, until the new Ayr Hospital opened in 1992. Shortly after a new studio was built in the hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Ayr Hospital and Ailsa Hospital in Ayr and the Biggart Hospital in Prestwick.
6.1 Radio North Angus (Brechin: 1979)
Radio North Angus commenced broadcasting by closed circuit transmissions at Stracathro Hospital in Brechin, on 9 January 1979.
The Stracathro station has two studios, equipped with a 12 channel Alice Air 2000 console and an 8 channel Korg console.
See 4. Arbroath for further information.
7.1 Radio Law (1967)
In January 1983 a letter was sent to the Chairman of NAHBO: “With reference to the NAHBO long service awards I, on behalf of Radio Law would like to propose our Director of Service, Murdo Morrison for the 15 year certificate”.
“Radio Law began in October, 1967 and since then Murdo, a founder member, has presented his Ceilidh on Saturday Morning as well as being Chairman, Director of Service”. The letter was signed by William Logan (Station Manager) and Jim Kirk (Secretary). Initially the programmes were pre-recorded, a cassette tape recorder being connected into the radio distribution system of the Law Hospital.
In 1986 Murdo Morrison wrote: “For 10 years there were only two or three persons involved. Gradually the number increased and in 1986 there are over twenty members. Three years ago there was a break-in to the studio and the mixer unit plus other equipment was stolen. Only a week was lost and then the programmes resumed. A new suite of rooms was allocated which Radio Law had to clean out completely and paint and carpet. This was achieved after much effort. All funds are from voluntary contributions plus street collections and raffles etc. Following the break-in we received one donation of £1,000. Running costs are approx £15 per week”.
Murdo added that the various highlights over the years were that the service had been featured on television, it had re-united a brother and sister who had lost contact for 17 years and they had had programmes broadcast to Asia/Australia detailing work of the service.
In 1993 the service had 22 members and was broadcasting 40 hours per week to the Law Hospital.
In May 2001 the Law Hospital closed and the service, still calling itself Radio Law, moved to a new studio in the Wishaw General Hospital.
See 25. Wishaw
8.1 Hospital Broadcasting Services Ayrshire (1980)
The hospital broadcasting service in Crosshouse has its origins in the early 1970s when programmes were recorded onto a reel to reel tape machine and then physically taken to the Ayrshire Central Hospital and Ravenspark Hospital to be played to the patients.
Hospital Broadcasting Services Ayrshire (HBSA) was formally opened in 1980, broadcasting from a studio in the Ayrshire Central Hospital.
In the winter of 1994, HBSA had a major refit of the main studio thanks to a grant from the ITV telethon trust. This had a great effect on the station, enabling it to provide better programming and entertainment for the patients of North Ayrshire and Arran NHS trust”.
The service moved in late 2009 from the Ayrshire Central Hospital to twin custom built studios at the Crosshouse Hospital.
In 2015 the service was being broadcast to Crosshouse Hospital and its Maternity Annex.
See Part 2. Dundee (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
The following three services in Dundee are inter-related.
9.1 Radio Tayside (1959)
In August 1957 a weekly variety entertainment programme from the Palace Theatre was broadcast each Wednesday. In October 1959 a number of local telephone ‘Hello’ girls were recruited as announcers and a broadcasting studio established above the Larg’s electrical store in Whitehall Street, Dundee. A regular Monday evening programme of interviews and musical items commenced at 8pm with the programme being recorded the evening before.
An article in a local Dundee newspaper dated 23 October 1959, read: “Hospital patients in the Dundee area are to have their own ‘Tonight’ programme shortly. It will include variety, singing, dance bands, talks and interviews. The Dundee Tape Recording Club is helping by recording interviews with Coco the Clown, and tennis star Joyce Barclay, who has now left Dundee. Most of the interviewing will be done by 15 of the ‘Hello’ girls from Telephone House. Broadcasts are sponsored by TOC H and will be produced by Jack Fraser – well known Dundee entertainer. They will be on the air for 45 minutes every Monday night starting in early November. The broadcasts will be from Largs, Whitehall Street, recording studio”.
A further article headed ‘Radio Shows For The Patients’ dated 28 November 1959 reported: “The TOC H Hospital Radio Service for seven hospitals in Dundee and Ashludie (Monifieth) begins tonight at seven o’clock. Mr Jack Fraser, who is running the service on behalf of TOC H said yesterday that he hoped there would be a programme every Monday evening. Tonight’s programme will include messages from Mr James Sim, Chairman of the Hospital Board of Management, Lady Provost Mrs Hughes, film star James Stewart, who was interviewed whilst in Stonehaven recently, and items by a number of local artistes. Apart from the messages much of the show will be broadcast live. Interviews and announcements will be done by ‘Hello’ girls from Telephone House”.
In addition to talks by sports personalities, the club at that time taped interviews with such stars as Cliff Michelmore, Adam Faith, Frankie Vaughan, Cliff Richards, Kathie Kay, Spike Milligan, and Bernard Braden.
On 7 January 1961 the service was extended to Royal Victoria Hospital and on 17 July 1961 the first broadcast took place from a new studio at 46 Ann Street. On 14 June 1965 the studio at Ann Street closed and a new studios was set up at an old bakery at the junction of Cleghorn Street and Rosebery Street in Dundee. The first radio broadcast taking place on 21 June 1965.
In the early 1960s TOC H wrote: “The Dundee hospitals’ own radio station had its origins in Dens Park and Tannadice, the respective grounds of Dundee and Dundee United Football Clubs, for closed circuit match commentaries. Four years ago it was decided to add a regular variety programme every Monday evening. Run on BBC standards – it even has a BBC commentator to call on when required – the programmes are heard by no fewer than 2,500 listeners. Six girls from Telephone House take turns at announcing (two being Miss Helen Sievewright and Miss Elizabeth Milne). Pat Liney, St Mirren’s goalkeeper, is a regular singer on the programme. TOC H began its Monday broadcasts in a fully equipped studio in the premises of a large local electrical firm, Larg & Sons (Dundee) Ltd., and when this studio shut down four years ago the promoters moved into a disused shop. The electrical firm virtually gave them all the equipment they required, and Mr David Wright, the chief electrical engineer, installed it. The Corporation contributed the new premises rate-free”.
During the 1970s the broadcasting hours of the hospital radio service were expanded from two hours per week to 44 hours, seven days a week. A programme schedule of 1975 read: “Radio Tayside broadcasts music programmes each evening to hospitals in the Dundee area, from studios located at Rosebery Street, Dundee. Record requests are welcomed for patients in Dundee Royal Infirmary, Ninewells and Royal Victoria Hospitals. In addition an inter-denominational religious message is broadcast at 9.55pm each evening, with the assistance of Ninewells chaplaincy”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Radio Tayside (TOC H Dundee Hospital Broadcasting Service). Contact: Malcolm J B Finlayson.
In 1978-79 a change in committee resulted in a decision to undertake a major face-lift to the studio and a new studio in a building next to the existing one that, during the television era, had been used as a workshop/darkroom. Effectively Radio Tayside had moved ‘around the corner’ from Cleghorn Street to 2-4 Rosebery Street. The record library was moved on 14 August 1982 and the new studio went on air on 16 August 1982.
In 1989 the committee was offered a suite of five rooms on the top floor of Clarence House in Dundee Royal Infirmary. Among the improvements to be incorporated during the move was establishing a link with Kings Cross Hospital although the link to Royal Victoria Hospital was closed.
The last programme from the Rosebery Street studio was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1991 and the service moved the Dundee Royal Infirmary. The first broadcast from the new studio took place on Hogmanay 1991 but it was only heard by patients in the Royal Infirmary. The official start date of programmes took place on 29 March 1992, with Alex Liggins and Graeme Archibald providing the first programme also to the patients of Ninewells and Kings Cross Hospitals from the new studios.
In January 1993 the service had about 60 members and was broadcasting 47 hours per week to the Dundee Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital and Kings Cross Hospital.
During the summer of 1998 Radio Tayside was informed of a possible location for a new studio complex within Ninewells Hospital. On 13 November 1998 the final Request Show was broadcast from the studios in the Dundee Royal Infirmary.
The service did not gain possession of the new studios until March 1999 and when Martin Campbell made the first broadcast on 3 July 1999 it was decided that while the official name of the station should remained unchanged, the on air name became “Hospital Radio Tayside”.
When it was announced that Royal Dundee Liff Hospital was to be closed in late 2001 it became clear that there would be an overlap between Hospital Radio Tayside and Radio Liff, the two hospital broadcasting services operating in and around Dundee.
At a meeting on 11 March 2001 it was formally agreed that a merger of the two stations would be in everyone’s interest. The new organisation was called “The Tayside Hospital Broadcasting Group”, with “BRIDGEfm” the on-air name. See 9.3.
9.2 Radio Liff (1985)
In 1985 a service was started at the Royal Dundee Liff Hospital. The hospital did not have a wired broadcasting system so initially a restricted service was provided by members visiting each ward in Centre Division on a rota basis with a mobile disco unit. Some of the members were who provided the service used to belong to Radio Tayside.
Although popular with patients and staff, the heavy commitment required from the volunteers meant that this service had to be withdrawn.
In 1989 Radio Liff launched a public appeal to help equip a broadcasting studio at the hospital. The funds raised resulted in a custom-built radio suite being built that allowed cassette tapes to be recorded and sent to the wards.
The new studios of Radio Liff started operating in April 1990. It was then the only volunteer-based hospital radio service operating in the Mental Illness sector in Scotland. In December 1993 taped programmes were also distributed to Royal Victoria Hospital following the earlier withdrawal of Radio Tayside from providing broadcasts there.
In 1994 the Radio Authority announced that single site licences would soon be available and this gave Radio Liff the opportunity it had been waiting for to distribute its programme to the patients. In summer 1995 the FM licences were applied for and the necessary transmission equipment purchased.
On 17 November 1995 Radio Liff’s new studio complex was opened and on 11 January 1996 the first FM 87.7 broadcast to Royal Dundee Liff Hospital took place. In September/October 1996 the service was extended to the Ashludie Hospital in Monifieth and the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Radio Liff was also given permission to rebroadcast Sky Radio and then later Virgin Radio to bring the patients top music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patients at Strathmartine Hospital, which lay outside the transmission range, were provided with a taped programme ‘The Sounds of Strathie’.
The service lasted until the hospital was closed, with the final live programme taking place on Sunday 26 August 2001.
Shortly afterwards the equipment was moved to Ninewells Hospital where Radio Liff joined with Radio Tayside to form a brand-new Organisation – The Tayside Hospital Broadcasting Group.
9.3 The Tayside Hospital Broadcasting Group (2001)
When it was announced that Royal Dundee Liff Hospital was to be closed in late 2001 it became clear that there would be an overlap between Radio Tayside and Radio Liff, the two hospital broadcasting services operating in and around Dundee
At a meeting on 11 March 2001 it was formally agreed that a merger of the two stations would be in everyone’s interest. Shortly afterwards Radio Liff’s equipment was moved to Ninewells Hospital, alongside Hospital Radio Tayside who had moved there in 1999.
The new organisation was called “The Tayside Hospital Broadcasting Group”, with “BRIDGEfm” the on-air name.
On 30 September 2001 the first FM test broadcast took place to the Ashludie Hospital, the Carseview Centre and the Royal Victoria Hospital. Meantime Hospital Radio Tayside continued to broadcast to the Ninewells Hospital by the ‘old’ hardwired system until 3 December 2001 when BRIDGEfm went live there for the very first time.
On 9 October 2002 DAB digital radio arrived in Tayside and North Fife courtesy of “SCORE Digital” and BRIDGEfm were invited to participate with them along with Heartland FM, the local radio service in Pitlochry and Radio North Angus. See 4. Arbroath. 4.1 Radio North Angus.
This participation expanded the reach of the station to a potential target audience of 430,000. From its launch BRIDGEfm’s programmes were broadcast for 40 hours a week – then the most hours broadcast digitally of any hospital radio station in the country.
On 20 August 2005 BRIDGEfm was joined by Radio Lollipop when they set-up a service for the younger patients in Ninewells Hospital. Volunteers were based in the wards and programmes relayed by satellite from their studios in Edinburgh.
On 9 September 2010 a fire broke out in the Nurses changing rooms which run directly behind the station’s studios at the Ninewells Hospital and the whole studio complex was badly damaged.
Some services were restored with the use of a back up computer system playing music and information from a temporary computer system setup in the station’s Transmitter Room at Ninewells Hospital. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve 2011 that the first official live broadcast from the refurbished studios at Ninewells Hospital took place.
FM transmission to the Ashludie Hospital ceased on 19 September 2012 when the hospital closed.
Shortly afterward BRIDGEfm launched a live audio stream and smartphone app, meaning that the Bridge FM signal could be heard anywhere in the world. “Within the first 24 hours of the launch, we had positive listener feedback from Moscow, Canada and the USA”.
See Part 2. Dunfirmline (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
10.1 Radio West Fife (Start Date required)
Radio West Fife broadcasts to the Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline,
“Like many hospital radio stations we can trace our origins to volunteers who provided football commentary from East End Park to patients in the West Fife Hospital. This continued for many years. Like many hospital radio stations in the late 1960s and early 1970s the station started regular programming of music and chat. From our humble first studio in little more than a cupboard in West Fife hospital to broadcasting from a shed in the grounds of the West Fife Hospital, the station has grown considerably”.
Following a spell of broadcasting from a caravan at Milesmark Hospital, the station moved to Lynebank Hospital in 1993.
In 2009 the station moved into Queen Margaret Hospital, and a new, purpose-built computerised facility, with state-of-the-art digital equipment equal to many professional broadcasters.
On 23 March 2012 the service started broadcasting as an online community radio station available on the internet and on mobile devices through TuneIn. “The Radio West Fife roadshow can be seen (and heard) throughout the year supporting local gala days and community events”.
In 2016 the services was broadcasting to the Queen Margaret Hospital, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, along with their online service.
- East Kilbride
11.1 Radio Hairmyres (1967)
A music based service called Radio Hairmyres was formed in 1967 and started broadcasting to the old Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride in January 1968. The founder members included Murdo Morrison and Billie Prentice.
On 10 July 1997 Radio Hairmyres was granted £4,721 from a community fund to soundproof of its studio and the purchase of new equipment.
The service ceased broadcasting when the new Hairmyres Hospital was opened in 2001.
See Part 2. Edinburgh (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
12.1 Edinburgh Hospital Broadcasting Service (1962)
The origins of the first music based service in Edinburgh can be traced back to the year 1960 when a group of business colleagues, some being members of Edinburgh’s Tape Recorder and YMCA Record Clubs, formed themselves into an organisation known as Forth Radio Network (FRN).
On 28 April 1961 the Performing Rights Society Ltd granted permission for the use of their copyright music, “On the understanding that the record programmes will be restricted to hospital patients and nursing staff on duty”. Three days later Phonographic Performance Ltd wrote, “We have the pleasure to inform you that gramophone records controlled by this Company may be used on a closed circuit radio system for the entertainment of patients in hospitals in the Edinburgh area and that the licence fee normally payable in respect of public performance will, in this instance, be waived”.
In obtaining these agreements, Norman Lowe, the then Secretary of the service, had overcome two important legal hurdles and so, with the blessing of the hospital authorities, the enterprise was begun in May 1961 by members visiting hospitals and playing requests, armed with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. They took requests one evening, recorded the programme at home and returned the following evening to play back the tape.
By the following year the Forth Radio Network had been granted permission by the ‘Football Broadcast Committee’ to use the landlines that were relaying commentaries from Hearts and Hibernian Football Clubs.
The first live broadcast, which took place from a small studio at 69 Hanover Street in the centre of Edinburgh, went out in October 1962 to the 16 hospitals that had been connect to receive the football service in the Edinburgh area.
The original 16 hospitals were The Royal Infirmary, Astley Ainslie, Simpson’s, City, Chalmers, Leith, Royal Victoria, Northern General, Longmore, Liberton, Western General, Eastern General, Edenhall, Corstorphine, Deaconess and Southfield.
In 1964 two more hospitals joined the Service: The Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital in February and by September the Stirling Royal Infirmary, FRN’s request programme being taped and sent through to these two hospitals each week.
Within three years of its inception, the Service was able to state: Forth Radio Network was providing programmes to 18 hospitals in Edinburgh and the Central Scotland area, 16 over landlines by courtesy of the sponsors of the Edinburgh Hospital Football Broadcast Committee.
The Forth Radio Network relayed its service to 16 hospitals in the 1960s, the largest landline network of hospitals in Scotland.
A programme of special note took place on 4 September 1964 when for 40 minutes two of FRN’s presenters covered the opening of the Forth Road Bridge.
In 1967 the ‘Edinburgh Evening News’ reported on the 1,000th programme from the Hanover Street studio: “In the five years they (FRN) reckon they have put out 2,000 hours of broadcasting, involving 15,000 requests from patients and played a quarter of a million records”.
Hibernian FC withdrew from the sports service in July 1967 and the Hearts Supporters Club decided they could no longer afford the high landline charge associated with so many hospitals. As a result, five were discontinued – Royal Victoria, Astley Ainslie, Liberton, Eastern General and the Deaconess.
By February 1968 more landline cuts had taken place resulting in the Northern General, Longmore, Edenhall, Western General, Southfield and Corstorphine hospitals being disconnected. The number of hospitals receiving the service had reduced to 5; plus the 2 in Dunfermline and Sterling who were still receiving taped programmes.
A special feature of this time was the exchange of pre-recorded material. In addition to the weekly taped request programme being provided to the 2 hospitals in Dunfermline and Sterling, taped programme exchanges were also taking place with hospital radio stations in Durham, Colchester, Margate and Manchester.
On 6 October 1968 a group of FRN members attended an exploratory meeting in Doncaster to form the National Association of Hospital Broadcasting Services. This was to become by 20 April 1970 the National Association of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations (NAHBO).
In 1970 a weekly taped programme was introduced for the Cheshire Home at Mayfield in Edinburgh. This was a request programme, similar to the one that was provided to the Stirling Royal Infirmary until October 1972. It proved a great success and for a time another Cheshire Home, in Dumfries was included. Later on the service was extended to yet another Cheshire Home, Maften Hall near Newcastle upon Tyne.
During the 1970s three of the hospitals that were disconnected in the late 1960s were reconnected – the Eastern General (June 1974), Corstorphine (March 1976) and the Royal Victoria (October 1976). In addition two hospitals joined the service for the first time· Beechmount (March 1976) and the Eye Pavilion (September 1977). For technical reasons the City Hospital was disconnected in 1976.
On 6 November 1973 the service took over from the Hearts Football Club the responsibility of the annual cost of the landline network, although allowing the Hearts football commentary to continue. In 1983 the Lothian Health Board accepted responsibility for paying the annual landline bill.
In the mid 1970s the programme to the Cheshire Home at Mayfield House was discontinued but in 1977 a similar service was introduced to the Scottish Council for Spastics’ School, Westerlea, at Murrayfield. This very worthwhile service, produced and presented by Angus Cunningham, was withdrawn in 1983 due to the closure of the residential part of the school.
In the early 1970s the Independent Broadcasting Authority had granted the local radio franchise to a company which was to become known as Radio Forth. Because the name was so similar the ‘Forth Radio Network’ changed its name to the ‘Edinburgh Hospital Broadcasting Service’ on 2 March 1975.
A significant feature of the 1970s was the rise and then fall in the number of requests played each year, reaching 10,000 in 1975 but falling back to less than 6,000 by the end of the decade. The downward trend was to continue until 1981 when a satellite studio was established at the Eastern General Hospital (the landline link having been disconnected due to the dramatic rise in landline costs that started in 1979).
Changes in the Service’s running costs over the years can be seen in extracts from the 1965 and 1985 accounts, typical for any service operating from a central studio located in a large city.
|Rates||£12 16s 6d||£543|
|Electricity||£22 19s 5d||£434|
Despite the increasing costs the service continued to expand. By the mid 1980s two more of the hospitals that were disconnected in the late 1960, the Western General and the Northern General. were reconnected to the service. At this time the service had a membership of 75. By 1987 the service had played well over 150,000 requests since it was formed.
The service continued to broadcast from its premises at 69 Hanover Street in the centre of Edinburgh until the end of 1993. By the following year the service had 41 members (of which nearly 25% had more than 15 years service) and was broadcasting 26 hours per week to 8 hospitals.
“We then broadcast from our studio in the Eastern General until the 10 November 1997 when we started to broadcast from our new purpose built studios at the Royal Infirmary with our new name Red Dot Radio”.
The Royal Infirmary located at Lauriston Place in Edinburgh closed in 2003 and a newly built Royal Infirmary then opened on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh. Rather than move its studio to the new Royal Infirmary the service established a studio in the Western General Hospital.
In 2016 Red Dot Radio, was broadcasting to the new Royal Infirmary, the Royal Victoria building and Western General from its studio in the Western General.
In 2017 past and present members with more than 20 years service include: Ronnie Allen, Brian Dishon, Willie Fowlie, Bryn Goodwin, Everlyn Leckie, Don Lorimer, Jim Ruxton and the current chairman Mac Kirby, who has been a member for over 40 years.
12.3 Mayfield Radio Unit (1971)
Mayfield Recording Unit, as the service was originally called, started in June 1971. It provided a tape recorded music service for one hour each Wednesday to the patients at the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital.
In 1972 a studio was built in the premises of the Mayfield Salisbury Church in south Edinburgh, with the first live broadcast taking place on 15 November 1972. In June 1974 the service changed its name to the Mayfield Radio Unit.
Norman Braidwood wrote in 1981: “After the installation of the landline we began to broadcast ‘live’ for the first nerve-wracking time. We initially broadcast only one hour each week, on Wednesdays, having collected requests the previous evening. This was a great improvement on the original system when we had collected requests on Wednesdays, seven days before they were broadcast. Over the years we gradually built up the team to enable us to broadcast for more hours on more evenings to more hospitals. From an initial weekly output of one hour each week to one hospital we have progressed to an annual output which is not far short of a thousand hours to four hospitals”.
Norman added: “In the intervening years Mayfield Radio has used portable tape recorders to collect requests from patients, recorded personalities and performances during Edinburgh Festivals to keep our listeners in touch and has linked to Mayfield Church to broadcast ‘live’ Watchnight services. We have run lines to Mayfield Church garden to capture for our listeners the tranquil atmosphere of dawn on Easter morning and the special outdoor service, and used our technical facilities to record church services for missionaries serving overseas”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entries: (1) Mayfield Radio Unit. Contact: Dilys Mack.
During the 1970s the service expanded considerably, connecting to the Liberton Hospital (January 1974), Deaconess (May 1975) and Longmore (September 1977). On 7 June 1986 the service was connected to the Astley Ainslie Hospital. In about 1991/92 the service ceased broadcasting to the Deaconess Hospital and to the Longmore Hospital about a year later. In June 1994 the service started broadcasting to the City Hospital.
In 1994 Mayfield Radio had about 35 members, of which about 20 had been members for 15 years or more, and was broadcasting 16 hours per week to the Liberton, Astley Ainslie, City Hospitals, and until it closed in 2000, the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Liberton Hospital and the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
13.1 Dr Gray’s Hospital Broadcasting Service/Wave Radio (1996)
Dr Gray’s Hospital Broadcasting Service was started in 1996 with the first show going out in January 1997, broadcasting from a small studio within Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.
In April 2012, in addition to broadcasting within Dr Gray’s Hospital, the station also went online at www.waveradio.org.uk.
Chairman Stewart Kennedy said: “Wave Radio aims to bring the hospital and the Moray community closer together. By expanding Wave Radio into the community we hope to make the patients feel more involved in local community events while the’re in hospital and also provide Moray with a local community radio station.”
14.1 Forth Valley Broadcasting (Start Date Required)
Shortly after the Royal Scottish National Hospital in Larbert closed in 1991 Forth Valley Broadcasting (Radio Royal) moved and set up a service in Falkirk See 6.1 Forth Valley Broadcasting (Larbert). The service commenced broadcasting to the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and the Stirling Royal Infirmary.
“Initially based at the R.S.N.H. in Larbert, we have moved locations several times. Having spent our most recent years at Falkirk, broadcasting to both Falkirk and Stirling Royal Infirmaries”.
Radio Royal ceased broadcasting to the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and the Stirling Royal Infirmary in 2010 when the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital was completed in Larbert and the patients and staff started to be transferred there from the two hospitals in Stirling and Falkirk.
15.1 Radio North Angus (Forfar: 1985)
Radio North Angus commenced broadcasting by closed circuit transmissions at the Forfar Infirmary on 3 June 1985.
See 4. Arbroath for further information.
See Part 2. Glasgow (About 1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
16.1 Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service (1969)
The Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service was established in 1969 and initially broadcasted a full twelve months of pilot programmes to Glasgow’s Foresthall Hospital. This was to prove to local NHS management that a dedicated hospital radio service would be appreciated by their patients in autumn of 1970 the NHS matrons finally agreed that they would allow programmes on their wards.
On Christmas Day 1970 the service began broadcasting, initially reaching 8 of the city’s hospitals from central studios located on the top floor of an office block in Argyle Street.
During 1970 the team providing St Mirren match commentaries to Paisley’s Royal AIexandra Hospital asked if the Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service could provide a music and entertainment service to the Paisley Hospital.
It was decided that rather than extend the Glasgow network to the South-West of the city, a separate Paisley organisation would be created. See 24.1 Radio Paisley.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service. Contact: Eric Simpson.
In 1986 a new Royal Alexandra Hospital was opened and the Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service provided a service to the new hospital.
Membership numbers rose throughout the seventies and eighties with at times, over a hundred active volunteers. Additional hospital were also added to the network and studio facilities developed providing the service with a Training Studio, two On-Air Studios and a general purpose Recording Studio.
In August 1993 the service moved to more a compact studio but with “more importantly watertight facilities” located at Baltic Chambers, Wellington Street. A move that took place without any break in programming.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting 5 hospitals: Drumchapel Hospital, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and the Beatson (West of Scotland Cancer Centre).
16.2 Victoria Infirmary Radio (1995)
“For many years, the patients of the Victoria Infirmary could hear Paisley Hospital Radio coming through their bedside headphones but, after a while, the radio system fell into a state of disrepair and Paisley HR did not have sufficient funds to bring it back up to scratch. Sadly, in 1990, Paisley Hospital Radio closed down due to an absence of financial backing, which left the Vicky without any radio at all.
Five years later, in June 1995, radio enthusiast Alan Hall was visiting his mother in the Victoria Infirmary and noticed the bedside radio units. Curiosity drove him to have a listen to hear if there was any sound coming through the headphones. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be heard, and this gave Alan the idea to start up his own hospital radio station”.
“The first step he had to take was to write to the Trust to see if they liked the idea of having an internal radio service. Luckily they did, and a survey of the patients and staff found that such a service would be appreciated”.
“We were promptly given a room in the old nurses home to set up the radio station which, at the time, housed our studio, office and reception area. Many weeks of blood, sweat and tears went into actually getting VIR “on the air”.
“About half a mile of cable was laid between our studio and the main control panel in the basement of the hospital, every single handset in the wards was repaired to receive two radio channels and the dayroom speakers were repaired ready to begin test transmissions”.
On 30 September 1995 a service called Victoria Infirmary Radio started broadcasting to the Victoria Infirmary.
“The station kept broadcasting for many months from our makeshift studio until we received a generous grant of £20,000 from the Greater Glasgow Health Board Lottery to buy brand new studio equipment. This we did and were able to build a brand new state of the art studio. The makeshift studio was been converted into a fully functional production studio, used for making trailers and jingles and for reading the news. It could even be used for running separate programmes from our new studio!”
“On September 2nd 1996, we had what even to this date was one of our most important functions. We invited various members of the hospital staff, as well as people from the community to our official opening”.
In 2016 Victoria Infirmary Radio was broadcasting to the Victoria Infirmary.
16.3 Centre Hospital Radio (1974)
A service called Centre Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Philipshill Hospital in May 1974.
The serviced ended in 1992 with the closure of the hospital. See 16.4 Southern Sound Hospital Broadcasting.
16.4 Southern Sound Hospital Broadcasting (1995)
Southern Sound Hospital Radio was launched at the Southern General Hospital on 24 April 1995. It was formerly known as Centre Hospital Radio when it provided a service to the Philipshill Hospital. See 24. Paisley – Centre Hospital Radio.
The service provides programmes from studios based 1 mile away from the hospital at Harmony Row, Glasgow.
“When the (Philipshill) hospital closed in 1992, we offered our services to the Southern General Hospital. Premises for the new studios were identified & there followed many months of work before the new service opened. Apart from a short break while we moved to other studios in the main hospital building, we have been broadcasting ever since”.
In 2016 there are three purpose built studios. Studios 1 & 2 are the main self-drive broadcast studios & studio 3 is a prep studio used to prepare for programmes, create packages and for interviews.
17.1 Inverness Hospital Broadcasting Service (1970)
A service called Radio Inverness started broadcasting on 2 November 1970.
The first show was to the patients in the Royal Northern Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
“Requests had to be submitted to Hospital requests, PO Box 2, Inverness, by the Friday prior to the programme, recorded at the weekend, to be broadcast on the following Monday”.
The first studio was established in 1975 in a small room at the Royal Northern Infirmary.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Inverness Hospital Broadcasting Service “Radio Inverness”. Royal Northern Infirmary. Contact: Alistaire Gardner.
In 1998 the service moved to new studios in the Raigmore Hospital.
In 2016 the service was still being provided to the Raigmore Hospital and the Royal Northern Infirmary.
18.1 Hospital Radio Johnstone (Pre 1977)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Hospital Radio Johnstone. Contact: Harry McDonald.
The Thornhill Hospital existed in Johnstone until 1986 when it closed. Up to 1970 it was a maternity hospital. The service probably ceased when the hospital closed.
19.1 Victoria Radio Network (1971)
The Victoria Radio Network started broadcasting to the Victoria Hospital in Kircaldy in 1971.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Victoria Radio Network. Victoria Hospital.
The service was awarded a license in 2002 to broadcast on Medium Wave (AM) to the premises of the Victoria Hospital – allowing people to tune in on their own radio sets for the first time
In 2013, the station began broadcasting its output online for the first time, allowing people to tune in using a whole array of internet connected devices.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting 7 days a week on 1287AM and online.
20.1 Forth Valley Broadcasting/Radio Royal (1977)
On 20 October 1976 Forth Valley Broadcasting registered as a charity and in May 1977 it started broadcasting with the on air name of Radio Royal to the Royal Scottish National Hospital in Larbert.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Falkirk & District Hospital Broadcasting Service (Radio Royal). Studio A, Royal Scottish National Hospital, Larbert. Contact: Colin Powell.
In 1991 the Royal Scottish National Hospital closed and Forth Valley Broadcasting moved and set up a service in Falkirk. See 14. Falkirk 14.1 Forth Valley Broadcasting.
In 2010 the service returned to Larbert and started broadcasting in from studios in the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital on 22 October.
Five years to the day later, on 22 October 2015, Radio Royal started broadcasting on line. A service that was also available on a mobile using the new Radio Royal app.
21.1 West Lothian Hospital Broadcasting Service (1991)
The West Lothian Hospital Broadcasting Service was registered as a charity on 15 December 1988.
After nearly three years of preparation and fundraising a studio was established in St John’s Hospital and the service started broadcasting in 1991.
The service was also relayed to the Bangour General Hospital until the Bangour Hospital closed in 2004.
The service was also broadcast to St Michael’s hospital in Linlithgow. and the Tippethill House Hospital in Armadale.
In 2016 the service was being provided to St John’s Hospital and was also being streamed live over the internet.
22.1 Borders Hospital Radio (1983)
Borders Hospital Radio Service started broadcasting in the Borders General Hospital in October 1988.
In 2016 the service was being broadcast nightly between the hours of 7pm and 10pm.
23.1 Radio North Angus (Montrose: 2000)
RNA first started broadcasting in January 1979, by closed circuit transmissions at Stracathro Hospital located in Brechin. Initially a service to the Montrose Infirmary was provided by means of an “out-housed” mobile control desk.
In June 2000 Radio North Angus received a substantial donation from the League of Friends of Sunnyside Royal Hospital and Montrose Infirmary to assist to meet the costs of establishing a new radio station in Montrose Infirmary.
A license was issued by the Radio Authority, which regulates Independent Local Radio, allowing the station to broadcast on 87.7 FM.
The service was allocated accommodation within the Infirmary that was converted into a studio equipped with a 8 channel 8 channel Sonifex S2 console.
See 4. Arbroath for further information
See Part 2. Paisley (About 1968) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
24.1 Paisley & District Hospital Broadcasting Service (1970).
During 1970 the team providing St Mirren match commentaries to Paisley’s Royal AIexandra Hospital asked if the Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service could provide a music and entertainment service to the Royal Alexandria Hospital.
It was decided that rather than extend the Glasgow network to the South-West of the city, a separate Paisley organisation would be created.
The Paisley & District Hospital Broadcasting Service (Radio Paisley) started providing a service to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Infirmary and the Victoria Infirmary in June 1970.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Paisley & District Hospital Broadcasting Service (Radio Paisley). The Studio, 28A High Street, Paisley. Hospitals served: 4. Start date 1970. Contact: Mrs E J C Ross.
Paisley Hospital Radio closed in 1990. Broadcasting to the Royal Alexandra Infirmary was taken over by the Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service.
See 16. Glasgow. 16.1 Glasgow & West Hospital Broadcasting Service.
See 16. Glasgow. 16.2 Victoria Infirmary Radio
25.1 Hospital Radio Perth (1989)
Hospital Radio Perth started broadcasting on 20 February 1989 to the Perth Royal Infirmary, initially two programmes a week.
The service later moved to purpose designed studios in the grounds of the Perth Royal Infirmary.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Murray Royal Hospital and the Perth Royal Infirmary.
26.1 Hospital Radio Law (1967)
Radio Law, the on air name of Hospital Radio Law, started broadcasting to the Law Hospital in October 1967. See 7. Carluke
In 2001 the Law Hospital moved its services to the Wishaw General Hospital and Radio Law set up a studio at the Wishaw Hospital in the same year.
A report in 2016 stated: “More recently a new broadcasting system called Myriad has been installed. This is a dedicated playout system that allows the station to broadcast 24/7 with a variety of automated shows”.
In 2016 Radio Law was broadcasting both live and automated shows 24 hours a day to the Wishaw General Hospital on Chanel 12 of the bedside system.