This year sees the fiftieth anniversary of radio broadcasting from WWL Radio who were previously known as Hospital Radio Wrightington.
There is not much information about the first year of the station other than the hospital were keen to have a radio station.
In those days the hospital wanted someone who worked for them to be in charge of the station. The first Studio Manager was Charlie Fishwick, who worked in the stores at the hospital. When Charlie retired Phil Howard who worked in the Path Lab took over the role. Phil is now living in Cambridge and keeps in touch with Mike Carrington the lead football commentator for Hospital Radio and one of the early programme presenters.
Broadcasting hours were limited in those days as all the volunteers had other jobs. There were two live shows, one on Saturday for two hours and the other Sunday. The two midweek shows were pre-recorded and aired on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Personnel and technology have changed over the years but the one constant has been an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers who have been prepared to give up their time to put on regular shows.
A constant, and popular, feature of the station has been its live coverage of Wigan Rugby League and Wigan Athletic. In fact, coverage of rugby league started in 1954, before the start of the station itself and continues now. Coverage of Wigan Athletic started in their second season in league football in 1979 and has followed the club’s rise through the leagues.
When Wrightington Hospital became part of the Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust coverage was extended to all the hospitals and units in the Trust.
The ravages of time took its toll on the fabric of the original studio and, in 2013 time was eventually called on its use: but only on the site, not the future of the station. Hospital Radio Wrightington staff and the Hospital Trust worked closely to identify a site for a new studio. This was built in the Patient Information Centre at Wrightington and was kitted out with the broadcasting equipment and broadcast 24/7.
A few years back we extended our coverage to the internet and more recently we successfully applied for a CDSP Licence to allow us to broadcast on an SSDAB network.
With a change of charitable status came a rebrand to reflect the wider area that we cover and so WWL Radio evolved.
Over fifty years, musical tastes and the technology for that music have changed significantly (who remembers eight-track?). The personnel involved have changed but the desire to serve the hospital community and to provide a free music service to patients and visitors remains. WWL Radio has not stood still and is now looking forward to many more years and are already planning a sixtieth anniversary celebration!