Royal Free Radio celebrates 50 years on air
- Credit: Archant
It started from a store cupboard at Chase Farm hospital and now broadcasts 24 hours a day to patients at the Royal Free and Chase Farm including song requests to loved ones
The Royal Free Hospital’s radio station celebrates 50 years on air next week.
When it started on May 24, 1970, The Beatles had just split up, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water was a new release, and the country was still using pounds shillings and pence.
Originally called Radio Enfield and based at Chase Farm, the station was renamed in 2017 when the hospital became a part of the Royal Free London NHS Trust.
It now broadcasts 24 hours a day to patients at Hampstead’s Royal Free and Chase Farm in Enfield.
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Staffed entirely by volunteers, it boasts a mix of music requests, quizzes, news, interviews and patient information.
“We were planning a reunion and a special series of broadcasts to mark the event”, said Station Manager Andy Higgins, “but as a result of Covid-19 we will have to wait until things get back to normal.”
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Although still based at Chase Farm Hospital, many of the current programmes are now being broadcast from presenter’s homes - supplemented by an archive of of pre-recorded programmes.
“We are pleased to still be able to play requests for patients via our website,” added Andy, who has been with the station for more than 40 years.
“Since there are visiting restrictions in the hospitals, it’s a way that relatives and friends can keep in touch by requesting a song to let patients know they are thinking of them.”
Howard White, one of seven schoolfriends who founded the station in a converted storeroom - inspired by the likes of Radio Caroline, said: “The Royal Free and Royal Free Charity have been very supportive of the station and we have never been more proud to support the NHS than in recent times with the impact of Covid-19.”
Send a request or find out more at royalfreeradio.co.uk