High Carley Hospital was the first (in 1948) to host an internal radio station in the area, albeit, at first, only for the dissemination of clinical information but was soon used for an “on air” get together with staff and patients alike, one evening per week.
Live sports broadcasting was introduced to hospitals in the area (by landline) in 1953 but took till 1965 for a program of music and sketches and requests to be introduced – being fed back down the line to the other hospitals in the region via the Holker Street Football Club’s terminal.
Soon after that the service moved to the North Lonsdale Hospital using makeshift equipment – space being shared with the canteen – until 1974 when, courtesy of the Barrow Soundtrack Club who provided news and other material, it became a registered charity, being now known formally as Radio Lonsdale.
A year later Radio Lonsdale moved to Roose Hospital and, although sharing space with the engineers department, were able to play records as well as taped recordings. A ‘Community’ Bingo game was introduced in 1981 – participants having to phone in “Bingo” from Roose, North Lonsdale or Risedale Hospital.
Meantime planning was underway to provide a purpose built radio station in the new Furness General Hospital – the first phase being opened in 1984. The expanded facilities boasted a record library and office space – being formally opened in October 1989 by the then Miss Great Britain.
A steady increase in programs, including quality, saw Radio Lonsdale being voted, in 1991, the ‘Best Hospital Radio Station’ in Britain in a National competition.
Trials in 1995 lead to Radio Lonsdale, in 1996, becoming the first hospital radio station in the country to be awarded a full-time restricted service licence. This meant that it could broadcast to receivers in homes in the surrounding area including patient’s private FM (87.7) receivers!
After a lull in volunteer numbers, the FM broadcasting facility regrettably lapsed but interest is now increasing and a variety of live programs are now broadcast on the internal network of the Furness General Hospital on most evenings of the week and during the day on weekends.
Late in 2014 we added a second ‘production’ oriented studio to our complex, opened and dedicated to one of our founder members Mr Ron Duxbury. This gives us the capability to produce more off-air content, and train new members.
2015 saw the re-introduction of live football commentary from Holker Street for the first time in 20 years and, in May, the first live broadcasts from the Keswick to Barrow Walk. Later on the same day we celebrated the return of live concerts broadcast to our patients bedsides from the Forum Theatre!
Finally, for now, 2016 saw the restart of our popular Music Request Shows, on Tuesday & Thursday evenings. We visit the wards from 6pm then rush back to the studios to ensure that your music is all loaded into our Myriad system before going on air at 8pm. Recently we have added an encore presentation at 11am the next day – should you miss your request!