In 2016 three hospital radio stations were operating in Switzerland: “Radio S” in Frauenfeld (Canton of Thurgovia), “Spitalradio Winterthur” in Winterthur (Canton of Zurich) and “Spitalradio LuZ” in Lucerne (Canton of Lucerne).
The word “Spitalradio” means “hospital radio station”.
Acknowledgement: To Simon Kaelin of Radio S, without whose help the following history of hospital broadcasting in Switzerland would not have been possible. http://www.simon-kaelin.ch/
Simon also reported: “All hospital radio stations in Switzerland are operated by volunteers from different ages and professions. For instance, Radio S has around 15 “active” members (i.e. presenters) and 30 “passive” members (i.e. donators). Each member has to pay annual subscriptions of £20 (students etc.) or £41 (regular fee). Indeed it sounds like a lot of money. However, this amount is necessary, as subscriptions are the most important financial source of Swiss hospital radio stations. They do fundraising only when they have to invest greater sums as for instance in new studio equipment etc
Although there does not exist a national hospital broadcasting association as in the UK, the Swiss hospital broadcasting stations are in touch with each other. They hold an annual meeting called the “Hospital Radio’s Day” alternating in Frauenfeld, Winterthur and Lucerne. In 2016 they had a foreign station as a guest for the first time. Spitalradio LuZ which hosted the event this year invited a delegation of the “Klinikenradio Bietigheim-Ludwigsburg”, a German hospital broadcasting station in the north of Stuttgart
There is also a friendly international contact between members of Radio S and Radio Hillingdon, which is very precious”.
- Le Locle (1968)
A service called Radio-Hôpital started broadcasting on 27 April 1968 to the hospital of Le Locle. It was the first hospital broadcasting station to start in Switzerland.
Radio-Hôpital has also been the only hospital broadcasting station in the French part of Switzerland so far. It was part of the national “Soundhunters” association. “Soundhunters” are radio amateurs who are in search of very unique sounds. They had them recorded and collected on magnetic tapes (see www.soundhunters.com).
Simon Kaelin added “As Mr Francis Jeannin (former member of Radio-Hôpital) wrote me a few years ago, Radio-Hôpital had also consisted of volunteers”.
As the Federal Act on Radio and Television became stricter around 1990, Radio-Hôpital had been obliged to apply for a broadcast license in order to maintain its services to the people outside of the hospital. This marked the sudden end of the station, as the volunteers were not willing to invest their private assets in licences.
Simon reported in January 2017: “It is important to note that Radio-Hôpital did only provide its services to the Hôpital Le Locle. They did not broadcast to a hospital in La Chaux-de-Fonds, but transmitted their signal into the homes of the people who lived in the city via cable only. They did not FM broadcasting”.
The service closed in 1991.
2.1 Radio S (1980)
Radio S was founded in 1980 by Mr Eugen Ettlin.
Mr Ettlin worked as a dentist and had often to travel to Constance (Germany) just a few miles away from the border between Switzerland and Germany. There Mr Ettlin learned that hospital broadcasting was very common in Germany.
Later he decided to launch a hospital broadcasting station in Frauenfeld and called it “Radio S”. He got help by Mr Kurt Kueffer who had worked as a professional sound editor and had provided much of his private equipment.
In the beginning, Radio S broadcasted local horse racing and concerts.
In 2016, since it started broadcasting to the Cantonal Hospital of Thurgovia in 1980, Radio S has broadcasted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a weekly request show and many music shows such as the “Country Club” or “Time 4 Weekend” (which is an entertainment show on Saturday night).
3.1 Spitalradio LuZ (1990)
Spitalradio LuZ (LuZ is short for “Luzern”, the German term for “Lucerne”) started broadcasting on 23 December 1990 when Mr Stefan Staiber and Mr Pascal Pinck found the cantonal hospital of Lucerne could need a little help at cheering up their patients around christmas.
In fact, the board of the hospital was absolutely not aware of the plans of the two youngsters! So just one day before Stefan and Pascal launched their studio in the entry hall, they asked the hospital director about his approval. As they already had informed the national television and other important media about the opening show the following day, the hospital director did not really have a choice.
So after one year of broadcasting occasionally, Spitalradio LuZ changed its service to a regular radio programme on 24 hours a day.
In the spring of 2007 the service moved from the former women’s clinic to its new premises in the staff house of the Cantonal Hospital of Lucerne in the City of Lucerne.
Spitalradio LuZ is known as Switzerland’s most modern hospital radio station after they had to replace their full studio equipment in 2016.
4.1 Spitalradio Winterthur (1979)
Spitalradio Winterthur was founded on 13 May 1979 by Mr Ursmar Wunderlin who worked as a hospital pastor and wanted to provide a special service to the patients of the Cantonal Hospital of Zurich in the City of Winterthur.
It was the second hospital broadcasting service to start in Switzerland.
Simon Kaelin reported: “Back then there weren’t such a broad choice of radio stations as today due to the former exclusivity of the state-run radio stations. So Mr Wunderlin wanted to start something new and he began doing request shows by very simple technical means.
As his service got popular very quickly, Spitalradio Winterthur became to an integral part of the hospital’s patients services”.
5.1 Radio Unispital (1991)
A service called Radio Unispital started at the University Hospital Zurich in 1991.
Simon Kaelin reported: “Radio Unispital had the biggest team of any hospital broadcasting station in Switzerland with more than 60 volunteers. Some of today’s most famous Swiss radio or television journalists had started off their careers at Radio Unispital. It is the reason why Radio Unispital is considered as the “prestige” hospital broadcasting station by many of us. They not only had very modern equipment for that time but also a comprehensive programme which seemed very professional for a voluntary radio station.
Unfortunately, there were different views of the future of the station between the team and the board of the hospital. Therefore Radio Unispital had to close down its services in 2001, just on their 10th anniversary. Some of their former members then joined the remaining hospital broadcasting stations. Radio Unispital is still very inspiring to us”.
- Other Locations
Hospital broadcasting stations have also existed in Bern (University Hospital Bern), Solothurn (Cantonal Hospital of Solothurn) and Zweisimmen (Hospital of Zweisimmen).
Note: Other stations are also believed to have existed in the French or Italian parts of Switzerland.