About Radio Tyneside
It was back in early 1950 that six Newcastle United fans were socialising in their favourite hostelry when they came up with the idea of broadcasting NUFC match commentaries to hospital patients in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, which was conveniently situated just around the corner from St. James’ Park. An approach to the club resulted in a ‘yes’ and Radio Tyneside was born. The very first match kicked off on 6th October 1951 when Newcastle United took on Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of a crowd of 57,558 and a few dozen more supporters listening in the RVI. The record books show that Newcastle ran out 3-1 winners with wor Jackie Milburn the scorer of two goals and Welsh international Reg Davies netting the third.
Since that October day in 1951, Radio Tyneside has expanded and in the 1960s obtained a small room above the old Rediffusion shop in the centre of the city where a weekly request show was launched using records borrowed from the Jeavons record store. In 1970, the Eldon Square development meant the closure of the Rediffusion shop and Radio Tyneside was on the move again, this time into the old workhouse in the Newcastle General Hospital. Size wise this was like a palace compared to the room above the shop, but it did need a lot of work doing to it before it could be used for broadcasting programmes. At the same time the service was now connected to the wards in the General, Hunters Moor and Sandringham hospitals. A couple of years later the service was extended to hospitals in Gateshead: the Queen Elizabeth, Dunston Hill, Bensham General and Whickham Cottage.
By 1975 Radio Tyneside was on air seven days a week, each evening and all day at weekends. As the years went by the volunteers worked hard to raise money and by the time of the station’s 30th birthday in 1981 had raised sufficient money to refurbish its studios with state of the art equipment. Roll forward to 1990 when Radio Tyneside launched an ambitious appeal to raise £35,000 to completely rebuild and refurbish their building which would include two brand new studios. Through the sterling efforts of the volunteers, supported by the hospitals and a local building company, the work was completed by September 1991, allowing time to redecorate and train the staff in time for the 40th birthday celebrations in October. The official opening of the refurbished studio centre was performed by radio presenter Simon Bates in February 1992.
Another big event in the history of Radio Tyneside came in 1997 when the station was invited by the Radio Authority (now OFCOM) to broadcast hospital radio to the patients and staff of the RVI via an AM transmitter. This was the start of 24-hour and was made possible by purchasing a smart piece of computer technology called Myriad from a company called Broadcast Radio. Since 1970 Radio Tyneside had been based in the General Hospital but the volunteers had known for a while that they would have to move because of the planned redevelopment of the hospital site. In 2009, following another tremendous fundraising effort, Radio Tyneside moved to its current home near the RVI. Since then, Radio Tyneside has expanded its service in ways which those six friends would never have dreamed of back in 1951. In 2018 Radio Tyneside was awarded a Community Radio licence allowing the station to broadcast on 93.6 FM, promoting good health and wellbeing to the people who live in Newcastle and Gateshead. Later that year Radio Tyneside was awarded the very prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service, which was officially presented by the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward. Radio Tyneside continues to go from strength to strength. Whilst the technology has changed greatly – everything runs on computers these days – we still enjoy charitable status, are 100% volunteer operated and continue to bring the matchday experience to grateful patients in Newcastle and Gateshead hospitals, just as we have been doing for the last 70 years.
If you would like to know more about Radio Tyneside, what we do and how to listen to us, browse our website www.radiotyneside.co.uk, drop us an email to email@example.com or call 0191 222 0789.
On 6th October 2022 we celebrated our achievements over the last 70 years with a great deal of pride, but we also look forward. Here’s to the next 70 years!