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 which were broadcast on Hereford Hospital Radio were pre-recorded by the students of Hereford Sixth Form College, and they were 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 us with 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 connecting alongside a number of care homes for the elderly within the city of Hereford.
Due to financial constraints in the 1980s, the hospitals in Ledbury and Leominster were disconnected, and soon Hereford Hospital Radio was only broadcasting to the hospitals in Hereford.
Throughout the 1990s the station went from strength to strength, winning a HBA (Hospital Broadcasting Award) and its output and members increased. We did regular outside broadcasts around the county, from coverage of Hereford United’s home football matches via our own makeshift studio at the ground, to broadcasting special events marking services for Remembrance Day in the city. At one point in the early 2000s, we had programmes for every evening from 6pm to 10pm and throughout the weekend from 9am to 10pm, including sports programmes, streaming the Hospital Church Service in the hospital and even outside broadcasts of concerts at the Hereford Leisure Centre.
The height of our output occurred in the late 1990s, when we did outside broadcasts for singers Daniel O’Donnell and The Bootleg Beatles. The O’Donnell concert had been fully booked for months, and there were funny stories in the local paper about people desperately trying to be in hospital so they could get to listen to the great man!
Times changed, however. The three hospitals in Hereford: the County, the General and the Victoria Eye, merged together and were all under one roof at a much expanded base at a new building in the county. During 2002, our block at the hospital during the major rebuilding works was being refurbished, and originally, we were told that we would need to be off air for just six weeks whilst the work was being done. However, six weeks turned into six months, then a year, and it went on and on.
The hospital was also going to move to a new commercially run system, with bedside televisions and radios for most beds at the County Hospital. 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 this service. Many of the radio’s members moved on to other things during this time and we lost many people who could not wait to go back on air. Our newly refurbished studios, however, were a great improvement to previous times.
Eventually, after a break of three years, we were able to go back on air but with fewer members and fewer listeners. We had used the three years 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 only concentrated on the TVs and the radio system on their bedside.
In 2007, we were finally able to get back on air with the full commercially driven radio system as well as the Nursecall system, and we could increase our profile in the hospital again, gaining new members and listeners.
Now with two new studios, more members, and a computer system enabling us to be on air 24 hours a day, which keeps the station in action when no presenters are present, things are brighter than ever!