Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 09:10 UK

Hospital radio station's 40 years

The late Gwyn Bailey outside Singleton Hospital
One of the presenters, the late Gwyn Bailey, outside the hospital

A Swansea hospital radio station which began broadcasting in the Swinging Sixties is celebrating 40 years.

Singleton Hospital's Radio City is Wales' longest continuously-run hospital radio service, says chairman Hywel Benjamin.

It began in 1968 in a basement, progressing via a portable building outside to purpose-built studios.

It now entertains about 60,000 patients a year, and Mr Benjamin says putting them first is the most important thing.

"It has to be patients first, patients second and patients third," he said

Mr Benjamin said the charity had "come a very long way" since the first broadcast from the basement at the outpatients' department, with many broadcasters - including BBC Wales presenter Jason Mohammad - taking their first tentative steps on its airwaves.

Some of the station's staff outside the portable building where it was housed
So many people have come along to be interviewed and given up their time
Hywel Benjamin, Radio City chairman

He said it had had a number of firsts over the years including an interview with Margaret Thatcher on a visit, just before she became prime minister in 1979.

Radio City was also the first service to broadcast in 1971 that Swansea had been awarded its status as a city.

"There are so many happy memories, so many people have come along to be interviewed and given up their time," said Mr Benjamin.

Among his personal highlights were interviews with Baroness Thatcher's late husband Denis when the Barbarians rugby team played Swansea. He also fondly remembers interviewing singer Bonnie Tyler.

As well as providing a 24/7 broadcasting service for patients, Radio City commentators also cover Swansea and Ospreys football and rugby games live from Swansea's Liberty Stadium, explained Mr Benjamin.

"As part of that service we also provide a commentary for visually-impaired fans in the stadium during the match.

The station now has purpose-built studios in the hospital's west wing
The station now has purpose-built studios in the hospital's west wing

"Soon we hope to be able to send the commentary back over the internet to hospitals in the visiting clubs' area too," he added.

The hospital has recently been granted a licence to broadcast on low frequency AM, and an 80,000 redevelopment, including a new transmitter, is underway. The NHS trust has also donated 20,000 towards the scheme.

The AM service will mean patients will be able to hear Radio City on a normal radio set instead of via the headphones which cost 5 for every patient, Mr Benjamin explained.

A celebration marking its four decades was held in Singleton's chapel on Saturday, followed by an anniversary broadcast from Radio Caroline's Clive Thomas, the station's president and founder.

BBC Wales' Roy Noble, who followed comedian Ryan Davies - of Ronnie and Ryan fame - as patron of Radio City, was among the invited guests, along with Health Minister Edwina Hart and local dignitaries.




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