Over fifty years of Radio West Middlesex
Radio West Middlesex has come a very long way since its first programme was broadcast on Saturday 27th May 1967. Back then we didn’t even have a studio – Radio West Middlesex was just a weekly one hour record request show which was recorded off the hospital site on a Friday evening and played back to patients the following morning. Today, over fifty years later, we broadcast 24 hours a day, every day of the year – something those involved in 1967 never even dreamed about.
Co-founders Chris Payne and our late Chairman Alan Hardy’s ambition was to have our own studio on the hospital premises so that we could broadcast our programmes ‘live’. That ambition was realised in the mid 1970’s, when some rooms became available above the kitchens in the old hospital. We converted them into studios and even built our own mixing desk, because that kind of equipment was very expensive to buy in those days. We were then able to produce more frequent and adventurous programmes. ‘Needle Talk’, our first request show (which is still on-air today), was joined by a country music show, a programme for the children’s wards, a local news programme and others. Over the years our output grew as more members joined and added their skills and interests to create more varied and interesting programmes.
In 2003 the most exciting change took place when we moved into the redeveloped hospital building. We received generous grants from the National Lottery ‘Awards For All’ scheme and the Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity to help us include the latest technology when we designed our new studios. This meant that Radio West Middlesex was able to broadcast 24 hours a day through the bedside ‘entertainment units’ that were provided in many wards and allowed Radio West Middlesex, for the first time ever, to have its own independent headphone channel without the need of sharing with other radio stations, as it had since 1967.
Now, thanks to further advances in technology, the Internet gives even more opportunities. If you have a ‘smart phone’, computer tablet or laptop you can listen to us using the hospital’s wi-fi system. Being able to broadcast Radio West Middlesex live on the internet also means you can continue to listen to us as you recover at home and still be able to enjoy our mix of music and health information. While you are here in hospital it also means that your relatives and friends can send you messages and choose music for you on our request shows – and of course, you can send them messages and requests too. Internet technology also means that we now have our own email address, website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Radio West Middlesex, as ever, offers a mix of relaxing music from all eras and genres along with special ‘live’ shows in the evenings and on weekends. You will also hear useful information about your stay in the hospital and items of local news.
We have been honoured to be judged to be among the top ten hospital radio stations in the UK seven times since 2000 in the annual national Hospital Broadcasting Awards (the ‘Station Of The Year’ category). In 2007 we received the Bronze trophy (coming third). We have also received Gold and Silver awards for our programme trails and were shortlisted in 2017 in the programme trail and specialist music categories.
Radio West Middlesex is a registered charity. Everybody who works on the station is a volunteer – whether it’s those behind the scenes, our members you see around the wards or the presenters that you hear ‘on air’. They all come from a variety of backgrounds and choose to devote a good amount of their spare time to Radio West Middlesex. The occupations of our members range from actors to those who work in shops; from those who work in broadcasting to occupations like marketing; are retired or just starting out in their careers.
Every penny we spend on equipment, music and other necessities is raised by the efforts of our members and through the generosity of our supporters – be they members of the public, local organisations or businesses.
We hope you’ll enjoy what you hear during your, hopefully short, stay in the West Middlesex Hospital. We look forward to being ‘A Friend at Your Bedside’ both on the wards and on the air.
Radio West Middlesex is a registered charity: number 1050841