The Victoria Radio Network has been entertaining and informing patients, staff and visitors to hospital services in Kirkcaldy since 1971. This makes VRN one of the country’s longest-running radio stations.
Through these years, many of VRN’s presenters have gone on to even greater things – and we’ve picked up numerous national awards for our output.
For much of that time, it was only possible to tune in through bedside radios in the hospital itself. In 2002, the station took a huge leap forward when it was awarded a license to broadcast on Medium Wave (AM) to the premises of the Victoria Hospital – allowing people to tune in on their own radio sets for the first time.
In 2013, the station began broadcasting its output online for the first time, allowing people to tune in using a whole array of internet connected devices.
Today, the station broadcasts 24-hours a day, 7 days a week on 1287AM and online. We’ve invested heavily in our studios over the past few years, and our broadcasting facilities are the same standard as many commercial stations.
Hospital Radio is a service provided for patients, staff and visitors to hospital services. Stations usually serve one more services within a small area.
The first UK hospital radio was at York County Hospital, in 1925. In the 1930′s, the idea spread to more hospitals. It was only in the 1950′s that the rapid growth of hospital radio really began. The peak occurred in the 1980′s, when over 300 were on air.
Today, there are around 230 stations in the UK, ranging from small 2-3 people stations broadcasting a few hours a week, to large stations with over 100 members broadcasting 24 hours a day.
Initially, the stations were only available by bedside radios, which were connected directly to the studio via wires. Today, many stations now have their own FM/AM transmitters, allowing them to be picked up in the hospital and surrounding area via any standard radio set. Many stations now stream their broadcasts online.
In all but a few cases, hospital radio stations are manned entirely by volunteers. There are currently around 2,500 in the UK. This includes everything from programming, visiting wards to technical, marketing and administration. At most stations, the average involvement per week is around 2-3 hours, but some involved in organising can stretch this to almost being a full-time job in itself.
The umbrella organisation, the Hospital Broadcasting Association, has been around in one form or another for around 40 years. It holds an annual conference in March each year, with the Hospital Broadcasting Awards being held on the Saturday evening.
Up until the advent of college courses, hospital radio was the main way young people would learn to present radio. As a result, many of the most famous names in broadcasting worked in hospital radio before moving onto commercial radio or the BBC.
These presenters include Chris Moyles, Simon Mayo, Scott Mills, Ken Bruce & Phillip Schofield.
In most cases, hospital radio stations are charities, and rely on donations and grants to stay on air. The bulk of this money goes on equipment, music and transmission licences.
VRN is run by volunteers (around 50), and there are no paid staff. Activities range from presenting shows to collecting requests from the wards. The ages of our members range widely, as do their experiences. Some are retired… some are just starting out in a career in radio.
The station is independently run, although our facilities and some of our utility costs are provided by NHS Fife.
VRN is managed through a committee structure. All positions are elected by the membership of the station, and manage the day-to-day running of the station.
The current committee consists of:
Chairman: Alastair McCabe
Treasurer: Ed Bowie
Secretary: Elaine Bowie
Technical: Mark Sadgrove
Hospital Services: Sheena Scobie
Others: David Hamilton, Elaine Connolly, Elizabeth Borthwick, Neil Ingebrigtsen & Chris West.
The station is funded entirely by donations, grants and fundraising.
VRN is a registered charity (SC000302) and is regulated by OSCR.