Chippenham Hospital Radio celebrates 40 years on-air

It’s been 40 years since a group of local residents came up with the idea of starting a radio station for Chippenham’s Community Hospital.

It all started when an inaugural meeting to discuss the viability of a Hospital Radio station in Chippenham was held. Since enough interest and expertise was available the Chippenham Hospital Radio Service was formed shortly afterwards. The Chippenham Rotary Club made a donation of £4,000 to get the project off the ground and the Hospital (back then called St Andrew’s) allocated accommodation for the project which had to then be modified and turned into two studios complete with broadcast equipment.

Test transmissions then took place and the station formerly went live on Saturday 9 June 1984 with Bob Harrison a DJ from the local commercial station Wiltshire Radio cutting the ribbon at the launch.

Terry Thring cuts the ribbonTerry Thring and Wiltshire Radio DJ Bob Harrison cutting the ribbon

Broadcasting back then was a very different affair with records decks, cart machines and cassette players filing the studio. A far cry from our modern studio today, where you’ll find computer playout systems and the internet.

Studio 1

Studio 1 goes live for the first time

Transmission around the wards was also very different, as patients listened via a hard wired system with very uncomfortable headphones, unlike now where they can listen via their mobile phones.

Fundraising has always been vital to keep the radio station on-air and in 1985 this was helped considerably as we applied for and was granted charity status.

The volunteers who run the radio station have always been the backbone of keeping the station alive and driving it forward. Many people have come through our doors before moving on to bigger and better things, Sue Davies, Shaun Hodgetts and Andy Henley all started with us before making a name for themselves in local commercial and BBC radio. Others have gone on to set up internet radio stations.

As technology advanced we tried to keep up and thanks to some talented individuals, we got a website and in 2006 we started streaming our output via the internet, something we believe we were one of the first hospital stations to do so.

In 2014 we’re celebrating our 30th year by expanding our service around the hospital in non-ward areas; we launched a brand new website and are brought together former and current volunteers with some special programming called the 30s @30.

Former chairman and presenter Derek Liddel joined Jane Holman, our longest serving presenter for the 30’s @ 30

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The team and past volunteers celebrate the 30th anniversary

Since our 30th anniversary we've continued to develop the radio station, we've upgraded the studio and our website and seen an increase in listeners from outside the hospital following our launch on smart speakers.

We've built strong relationships with organisations from our town and supported many local events.

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River Festival

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John Coles Park 100th anniversary celebrations

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Pride 2023

We got our first ever patron in action Stephen McGann.

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Chippenham Hospital Radio's Patron Stephen McGann

At the heart of the radio station though is still our amazing team of volunteers who dedicate their time to entertain and inform our listeners and we thank them for their tireless work.

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The Chippenham Hospital Radio Team 2017

Thanks for supporting Chippenham Hospital Radio and here’s to the next 40 years!!