'Brightest day in its history' as Harrogate radio station prepares for FM launch

An exciting new era will begin for Harrogate Hospital Radio as it looks forward to its FM launch tomorrow - the first such station in the UK to do so.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 4:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 4:19 pm
Harrogate Hospital Radio's chair Mark Oldfield said: "I am incredibly proud that Harrogate Hospital Radio has been granted a licence to broadcast on the FM frequency."

Award-winning broadcaster Mark Oldfield, chair of Harrogate Hospital Radio, the town’s longest running radio station, said it was an exciting moment for the station and the town.

Mr Oldfield said: "I am incredibly proud that Harrogate Hospital Radio has been granted a licence to broadcast on the FM frequency.

"I first applied back in November 2018 to broadcast on FM, but kept being knocked back.

"For the first time we will welcome listeners at Harrogate District Hospital and surrounding area to Harrogate Hospital Radio on FM.

"The future of the station is possibly the brightest and most exciting it has ever been in its 43-year history.

"I would like to thank every single person who has helped HHR to get where we are today."

Harrogate Hospital Radio has been broadcasting since 1977 for the benefit of the patients, staff and visitors to the hospital with more than 80 hours of live content per week on its free app and online via its website.

The new FM capability means the station will be heard from around a 2km radius surrounding the hospital, as well as being available online and through the station’s free app.

The official switch-over to FM tomorrow, Wednesday at 9.53am will be conducted by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who will also be choosing some of his favourite pieces of music.

At 10.15am the chair of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Angela Schofield will switch on an FM radio live at the MRI department at Harrogate District Hospital which has been donated by Harrogate Hospital Radio.

Mark Oldfield will be hosting shows throughout the day from 9am until 6pm with various presenters joining him.

A registered charity, Harrogate Hospital Radio's rebirth as a FM station follows a lengthy, topsy-turvy, three-year battle to win the licence in which Harrogate MP Andrew Jones is credited with playing a major supportive role after Harrogate Hospital Radio's original FM bid was rejected by the government's broadcasting regulator The Office of Communications..

Mark Oldfield explained: "The application was turned down because according to Ofcom, ‘there was no frequency available for us to broadcast’!

"In 2019, Harrogate lost its only local FM radio station to a national franchise, which, in my opinion, left a hole without any local contact and local approach. Because of this, and having researched availability of FM frequencies, I decided to apply once again to Ofcom, which was once again rejected.

Mr Oldfield continued: "I then to set up a petition and had a zoom meeting with our local MP, Andrew Jones, who told me he would help as much as possible to try gain a licence.

"He truly believed we had a very good case to provide a service to the patients, patients’ families, visitors and staff at Harrogate District Hospital."

Harrogate Hospital Radio is determined to capitalise on its new FM status by further improving its service to patients and getting more involved with the community and community events in Harrogate.

Mark Oldfield said: "Our aim is for more patients to listen to Harrogate Hospital Radio.

"Since we first went online and developed our app, I did a lot of research in WiFi radios, and decided to buy some to trial in various hospital departments.

"The first was placed on reception, and remains there to this day, playing Harrogate Hospital Radio 24/7 to entertain patients, visitors and staff, who pass through the hospital’s entrance.

"To date, we have more than 55 WiFi radios within the hospital, located in numerous and departments, all tuned in to Harrogate Hospital Radio.

"We now aim to purchase approximately 300 additional FM radios, so each bed will have a radio to listen to, and to request music on Harrogate Hospital Radio.

"We have also committed to be more visible in the community, when we bring the ‘outside in’ at major local events."

For more information, visit www.harrogatehospitalradio.org.uk