Hereford Hospital Radio first began broadcasting in 1972 when Roy Romerill of the Hereford Youth Services had the idea of providing an entertainment service to the patients, staff and visitors of the three hospitals in Hereford.
The first programmes broadcasted on Hereford Hospital Radio were pre-recorded by students of the Hereford Sixth Form College, and played during Sunday evenings. When these students moved on, the station underwent temporary closure, and the Hereford Lions Club concentrated their efforts on re-building the service.
A former hospital building was refurbished to provide a studio complex at the Hereford County Hospital, and Hereford Hospital Radio was re-launched with programmes being broadcast every day of the week, producing some 36 hours of live entertainment.
During the late 1970s, the range of programmes increased and so did the audience, with hospitals in both Ledbury and Leominster being wired for sound’ alongside a number of Age Care Homes within Hereford city.
Due to financial constraints in the 1980s, the Hospitals in Ledbury and Leominster were disconnected, and soon Hospital Radio was only broadcasting to the hospitals in Hereford.
Throughout the nineties the station went from strength to strength winning HBA (Hospital Broadcasting Awards) and increasing its output and members. We were undertaking regular Outside Broadcasts around the county, from coverage of Hereford Uniteds home matches via our own makeshift studio at the ground to broadcasting solemn events marking services for Remembrance Day in the city. At one point in the early noughties, we had programmes for every evening from 6 to 10pm and throughout the weekend from 9am to 10pm at night, including Sports programmes, relaying the hospital church service in the hospital and even outside broadcasts (OBs) of concerts at the leisure centre.
The height of our output probably occurred in the late nineties doing OBs for the Daniel ODonnell and the Bootleg Beatles. The ODonnell concert had been fully booked for months, and there were jovial stories in the local paper about people desperately trying to be in hospital so they could get to listen to the great man !
But sadly, things were not meant to last. The three hospitals in Hereford; the County, the General and the Victoria Eye hospitals would merge and be under one roof at a much expanded base at a new building at the County. During 2002, our block at the hospital during the major rebuilding works of the hospital was to be refurbished; better than having no home at all, and we would keep our studios, space that many hospital radio stations were losing under redevelopment of services. Originally, we were told that we would need to be off air for just 6 weeks whilst the work was being done. But 6 weeks, turned into 6 months, then a year, and on and on. The hospital was also going to move to a new commercially run system, with bedside TVs/radio for most beds at the County. These were bad times for us as we were not on the air and had to wait to find out if and when we could be included on the service. Many HHR members moved on to other things in the mean time, and we lost many members who could not wait to return on the air. But at least we could now move in to our newly refurbished studios, which were a great improvement.
Eventually after a break of three years we were able to go back on the air but with many fewer members and with fewer listeners too ! In the interim, time off air had given us time to raise much needed funds to improve our studios and equipment. We were still able to broadcast on the older Nursecall system, but many patients were not aware of this, as they really only took note of the TV and radio system by the bedsides.
Finally in 2007 we were able to finally get back on air with the full commercially driven radio system as well as the trusty Nursecall system, and we were able to increase our profile in the hospital again, gaining new members and listeners.
Now with two new studios, more members, a fully computerised playout system enabling us to be on air 24 hours a day, which will keep the station in action when no presenters are present, things are brighter than ever ! Most of our songs are stored on computer so we have much more room in the studios