York Hospital Radio marks 60 years of broadcasting

by Handy Mag
Published: Updated:

On the 26th January this year, the volunteer broadcasters of York Hospital Radio celebrated the radio station’s 60th anniversary.

A very special day of live shows, together with two civic visits were held to mark 60 years to the day since the very first show was broadcast to listeners in York’s hospitals in 1964. The Archbishop of York, The Most Revd. Stephen Cottrell, also recorded a special message to mark the occasion.

These days, the station, a registered charity, staffed entirely by volunteers, broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to listeners in York Hospital, but also broadcasts online as well and can be heard on Smart Speakers, and has its own free app. Programmes include music, interviews, sport including commentaries on all York City home games and Outside Broadcasts from venues like the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York Barbican, and York Minster.

The very first show, on 26 January, 1964, was pre-recorded on tape and consisted of listeners’ requests. It was broadcast to the former Fulford Maternity and Naburn hospitals, and the first record ever played was ‘Thank heaven for little girls’ by Maurice Chevalier.

Live shows started in 1967, with the first sports programmes in 1968. Over the years, the station has been based at The Grange on Huntington Road (York’s former workhouse, and now student accommodation); then purpose-built studios in the grounds of the former City Hospital on Huntington Road; and today in studios off Bridge Lane.

The station has two studios and an extensive record library, but now, embracing the latest technology, many shows are recorded at home and presented remotely, in common with many modern radio stations.

At one stage, the station broadcast to ten hospitals in the York area, but today it focusses purely on the York Hospital in Wigginton Road.

Previous Presidents of the organisation include Frank Marlborough, a star of York Theatre Royal many years ago; BBC broadcasting legend Harry Gration; former ‘York Evening Press’ writer Stacey Brewer; and York panto favourite Martin Barrass. Today, the Patron of the station is Alan Dedicoat, the ‘Voice of the Balls’ and of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

Broadcasting around the clock started in 2001, with the advent of computer technology on the station, and online broadcasting began in 2017.

Ian Clennan, chair of York Hospital Radio, said: “We are still a unique service for the hospital, and we know we can be a valued part of patients’ recovery, whilst also providing information and entertainment for patients during their stay.

“We are also heard online via our website and via our free app, and I am truly proud of the hours put in by so many people both on air and behind the scenes to make it all happen. We have produced many professional broadcasters over the years, but most of our presenters do it simply for the love of it, and the knowledge that they are playing a part in the recovery of many of our listeners.

“We have a full year of activities and events lined up to mark this milestone anniversary, and I hope that more people will want to join the station in the course of 2024, whether as broadcasters, technicians, or fundraisers. As a registered charity, we need financial help to survive, so we are hoping that we will be able to attract new sponsors for our shows and regular features this year, to boost our own fundraising activities.”

For full details of York Hospital Radio, including programme schedules, how to join the organisation, how to listen, and how to help financially, visit: www.yorkhospitalradio.com.

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