Radio Tyneside celebrates 70 years of hospital radio service – RadioToday


Radio Tyneside today celebrates 70 years of hospital and community broadcasting in Newcastle and Gateshead.

The service began in 1951 as a football commentary service for IVR patients. Over the years it has grown into a music, inquiries and information service in the evenings and weekends for inpatients.

In 2018, the station was granted an FM license to extend its service to the general public in favor of health and wellness.

The organization is a charitable organization and has 40 volunteers who broadcast 24 hours a day.

Former volunteers include consultant Paul Robinson, Radio 4 producer Paul Bajoria, Heart North East presenter Emil Franchi, Pulse reporter Henry Winter and Tamsin Robson of BBC Newcastle.


It was in the early 1950s that six Newcastle United fans were sitting in a pub when they got the idea to broadcast match commentary at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, conveniently located just around the corner from St. James’ Park.

An approach from the club resulted in a ‘yes’ and the first game was broadcast live in 1951 when Newcastle faced Wolverhampton Wanderers and beat them 3-1. Today, these comments are still broadcast but now in three hospitals in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Over the years, the station grew and in the 1960s obtained a small room above the old Rediffusion store in the center of town where a weekly request shows records being borrowed for requests from the Jeavons record store.

In 1970 they moved into the old working house at Newcastle General Hospital. In terms of size it was like a palace compared to the room they had, but it took a lot of work before it could be used to broadcast programs.

Fundraising took place and money was raised to convert the building and within six months the application program was transferred to the general. At the same time, the service was connected to the services of the General Hospital as well as the Hunters Moor and Sandringham Hospitals.

A few years later the service was connected to hospitals “on the water” in Gateshead. The Queen Elizabeth, Dunston Hill, Bensham General and Whickham Cottage.

Over the years, these hospitals have closed and moved into an expanded Queen Elizabeth. Likewise, the Sandringham Hospital in Newcastle closed during the construction of the Freeman Hospital.

In 1973, under new management, Radio Tyneside began recruiting volunteers who allowed the station to increase its broadcasting hours. In 1975, it was broadcast seven days a week, nightly and all day on weekends.

Over the years, volunteers worked hard to raise funds and by the time of the station’s 30th anniversary in 1981, they had raised enough money to renovate its studios with state-of-the-art equipment.

Over the next ten years, Radio Tyneside grew more and more powerful, increasing the number of volunteers and the hours of broadcasting.

It was in 1990 that the station decided to raise £ 35,000 to completely empty, rebuild and renovate its building which would include two studios.

The hospital authority has granted permission to go ahead with the plans. At first the volunteers weren’t too convinced that this money could be raised, but by the end of the year the station was 75% of the way. It was decided to go ahead with the plans and they were helped on their way by a kind offer from the local construction company to do the shell at a reduced cost.

More money was raised as the work progressed and although the full £ 35,000 was not raised the station managed to achieve what it wanted and the studios were ready by September 1991, leaving time to redecorate and train staff in time for the 40th anniversary celebrations in October. The official opening of the renovated studio was performed by Simon Bates in February 1992.

The next big event in Radio Tyneside history came in early 1997, when the station was invited by the Radio Authority (now OFCOM) to conduct a hospital radio broadcast experiment to patients and staff. via an AM transmitter.

The experiment was launched in November and it was also the start of the organization’s 24-hour broadcast and was made possible through the purchase of a smart computer technology called Myriad from a company called Broadcast Radio.

Once again, a costly time for the station, having to buy the transmission equipment and again the local businesses, the WRVS and the League of Friends of Hospitals helped them pay for everything.

The investment paid off when the Radio Authority announced that the experiment had been successful and offered Radio Tyneside a 5-year license to continue AM broadcasts. This type of transmission has been well received by patients and staff.

In October 2001, the station celebrated a milestone – 50 years of broadcasting! He hosted a weekend of live specials followed by a birthday party to which many people associated with Radio Tyneside were invited. There was even a taxi painted with our logo that you could see driving around Newcastle.

The biggest change affecting Radio Tyneside took place in May 2009.

Since 1970, they had been broadcasting from the General Hospital but had known for a while that they would have to move because of the redevelopment of the hospital site.

In March 2009, they were offered a building near the rear of the RVI. Much work was necessary to transform the rooms into studios. Thanks to the hard work of the staff, they raised funds for the move and with financial assistance from the Trust, the building was converted and the move took place.

The move also allowed the station to expand its service. At the time, they were only heard in wards with new equipment, they decided to start broadcasting via the Internet and found that a number of patients were listening after they returned home. It also gave them the opportunity to promote a number of health related information to a wider audience.

Radio Tyneside has covered many events over the years, but the most important is every September when they cover the start of the Great North Run, which takes place just outside their studios. A special studio is built on the street every year, and coverage has been provided by other hospital radio stations as well as local community stations. To be able to produce these types of outdoor shows, it was only thanks to a grant from the National Lottery that allowed them to buy an £ 8,000 unit that feeds our signals back to the studios via Wi-Fi or 4G technology, which allows them to attend many other events. in the community.

Their coverage of the Far North has won the station numerous awards at the annual National Hospital Radio Awards. In 2018, they walked away with four awards.

Also that year, they applied to OFCOM for a community radio license to broadcast on FM across Newcastle and Gateshead, promoting health and well-being. This app was accepted and in July 2018 started broadcasting on 93.6FM.

Later that year, they were told they had received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – which is the equivalent of an MBE.

On Thursday July 5 at noon, the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Alan Dedicoat (the voice of the balls) launched his FM frequency which was attended by many guests from the Hospital Trusts and friends of the station.

In October 1998, the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, visited their studios and presented the station with its Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Radio Tyneside continues to broadcast to patients in the wards of Newcastle and Gateshead hospitals and also on their frequency 93.6 FM to listeners in the region, broadcasting a range of programs and promoting health and wellness with the help of two Newcastle and Gateshead Councils as well as many local charities.

Besides their FM frequency, the station can also be listened to online, on the Tune In and Radio Players apps and also through smart speakers.


Comments are closed.