The Earliest Years
Hospital Radio, in Wigan, began in the 1950s but was restricted to providing coverage of Wigan RLFC matches. Wrightington Hospital Radio was first formed in 1973 and became the radio station for Wigan Leigh, Wrightington, Whelley and Billenge.
The Start of Wrightington Hospital Radio
So, 2013 saw the fortieth anniversary of radio broadcasting from Hospital Radio Wrightington. It was also a year of big changes and a new set of challenges for all its members.
There is not much information about the first year of the 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 moved in Cambridge and kept in touch with Mike Carrington who was the lead football commentator for Hospital Radio and one of the early programme presenters.
Broadcasting hours were limited as it was done by volunteers who 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 for the Wigan Royal Albert Edward Infirmary 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.
Harry Carey covers an early game
Children visit the studio in the 1970s
Phil Howard's Sunday Show 1974
The Move to the New Studio
The ravages of time took its toll on the fabric of the original studio and 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 officially opened on Tuesday 22nd October 2013.
We have not stood still, introducing new studio software that has made it easier to run 24/7; developing a presence on the internet and plans to broaden our coverage further in the future.
In 2021 we decided to take another major step by becoming an incorporated Charity. As part of that decision, we wanted to show that we have always included the whole of the sites of the Wrightington Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and become even closer to the family that is WWL by changing our name to WWL RADIO.
Since its beginning as a hospital radio, 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. Hospital Radio Wrightington has not stood still and is now looking forward to many more years.