Bay Trust Radio has a great history, here we tell the story from the very beginning to today. Bay Trust Radio was originally called Kendal Hospital Radio, which was later changed to Kendal Hospital’s Radio. You can also watch our station video from 2014, which explains just some of our history, with sound clips and photos.

Kendal Hospital Radio – The Very Start

In December 1976, a meeting was organised and a Committee was formed and Mr. Jim Bowness was elected the first Chairman of Kendal Hospital Radio.
Patients, relatives, friends etc. all donated records and The Hospital League of Friends helped with funding to purchase equipment as they still do to-day. Accommodation was provided by Westmorland County Hospital Board and KHR was up and running.

On Sunday 6th February 1977 the first broadcast was made and presented by Jim Bowness and from our archives we have found that this broadcast attracted 60 dedications (requests) and 22 tracks of music were played. Also included in this show was an interview with Daphne Cunningham – Matron at Westmorland County Hospital at this time. This show continued once a week on a Sunday at 8.15pm.

This Sunday programme went from strength to strength and it didn’t take long before an Inter Ward quiz was included in the programme and a cup was presented by a local firm ‘The Phillip Bank’s Quiz Trophy’ and recently this trophy was located in Ward 7 in Westmorland General Hospital. Also an Epilogue was included at the end of the show.
Kendal Hospital Radio continued to go from strength to strength and was soon broadcasting for 2 hours each evening including Saturday & Sunday.

Kendal Hospital’s Radio – 1985

The records show that in 1985 they had 47 members.

It was during this period Kendal Hospital Radio became a registered charity with the Charities Commission and changed its name to Kendal Hospital’s Radio. Why! Well I am sure you will all remember Kendal Green and Meathop Hospitals who by this time had been aware of the existence of Kendal Hospital Radio and its popularity at the County Hospital and they wanted a part of this Hospital Radio. Technology during this period was very limited for small broadcasting stations like KHR who were trying to include these two hospitals in the system. However, they overcame the problem with a simple idea – record the programme on a cassette tape and deliver the cassette tape to the hospital’s the following morning and broadcast the programme in the afternoon usually after visiting time!

By 1990 KHR had something like 20,000 tracks of music which you can imagine was an absolute nightmare on a ‘Card Index’ system.

Westmorland General Hospital Opens – 1991

The next major change came in 1991 when Westmorland General Hospital was opened, a new studio was provided on Level 2 and the existing equipment was transferred from Westmorland County Hospital and KHR was back in business.

By 1993 the record library had grown to 30,000 tracks of music which was larger than many commercial stations, but the equipment was becoming very unreliable especially mainly caused by turntable & tape deck failures.

The decision was made to embark on it’s first fund raising scheme to enable them to replace all the equipment and include a mixing desk into the studio for the first time.

The Hospital League of Friends came to the rescue once again along with many other local organisation’s plus events organised by KHR and £10,000 was raised which allowed them to purchase a Mixing Desk, 2 Turntables and a Cassette Deck. Also the NHS. provided a computer to enable KHR to computerise the record library. Each track was numbered and this made it easy to locate a track of music and each LP. or CD. was given a reference number. Also the computer would locate music by artist. At this time an appeal was put out for more volunteers who would provide cover for 2 hours live programs 7 days a week.

Around this time, the first outside broadcast was recorded at the Torch Light Procession and replayed to the patients later in the evening. Live broadcasting was very difficult to do and costly at that time, but the listeners were happy they didn’t miss the Procession.

By the year 2000 technology was moving at a very fast pace and in 2003 some of the presenters were invited to Lakeland Radio to present programs from their studios on a Tuesday & Thursday Evening’s and it was during this period we became involved with ‘Computer Play-out’ systems

This experience gave us the idea that we could have this system at KHR.

With technical help from the Hospital Broadcasting Association we established that by having a certain computer package and receive information from a satellite transmission we could place all our music on a computer data base and receive national & international news from Sky plus the latest weather forecast for the region.

Again it was necessary to embark on a fundraising appeal but this time we required a further £12,000! This appeal was given a tremendous boost when we were successful in obtaining an award from the Local Lottery Fund – ‘Awards for All’ for £5,000. Once again the Hospital League of Friends came to our aid and the WRVS (Tea Bar) plus many local business people and also we held raffles and ‘Bag Packing’ sessions at ASDA Stores, Kendal.

Computerising Playout – 2004

By 2004 we were really experienced in presenting computerise programs and then the Station Manager decided to upgrade our software and some of the equipment. We obtained new software called Myriad from a company called P Squared of Hull which supplies many of the national and local radio stations with this type of equipment. We upgraded this software to Version 3 being the first radio station in the North West to do so. During a recent visit Nigel Dyson from Radio Cumbria admitted that our equipment is much better than Radio Cumbria and most local commercial stations. However, you must remember that we are a voluntary organisation we obtain most of the computer software very much cheaper than commercial Radio Stations. This applies also to the charge levied by PPL (Phonographic Performance License).

We also have Sky News which comes via our satellite dish on the hour and we also have a news capture facility to obtain the latest news by the minute. Also this system will replace our schedules should something serious happen.

For the technically minded all the music we play is converted to compressed .wav files.

Going 24 Hours a Day

From 2 hours a night live broadcasts we now broadcast programs 24 hours per day 7 days a week which includes Comedy Hour, In Concert, Golden Years, A-Z of Pop and the Sunday Service at 1.45pm. Each Sunday. Also we have the facility to ‘voice track’ programs.

The Saturday afternoon Sports Programme is probably the most difficult programme to present especially during the football season because scores are coming in all the time from all over the country via our News system. We can also broadcast reports direct from all the major football stadiums.

Also with this system of broadcasting we can now broadcast local events live direct to Westmorland General Hospital, we have already covered Holker Hall Garden Festival and of course the Torchlight Procession.

To produce quality programs we are very lucky at Westmorland General Hospital in having two studios, Studio 1 is the main broadcasting studio and Studio 2 is used as the production studio although you can also broadcast from this studio as well – mainly Saturday morning and afternoon.

Bay Trust Radio – 2007

In November 2007 we were asked by The Morecambe Bay NHS Trust if it would be possible to broadcast programs to The Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital Barrow in addition to Westmorland General Hospital. We couldn’t refuse this offer and with some help from the NHS Trust we commenced broadcasting to the three hospitals in February 2008 and that’s when we changed our name to Bay Trust Radio.

All this success comes at a price; we require approximately £3,000 – £4,000 per year to continue to provide our service. This money is raised by BTR through our sponsorship scheme we have with local shops and businesses and also raffles, bag packing sessions at ASDA Stores, Kendal.

With help from the Westmorland Hospital League of Friends, Cumbria Community Foundation and many other sponsors we finished a refurbished of the station a project that had taken 6 years.

Experience has also proved that having purchased all this new technology, we cannot afford to stand still. In 2011 we purchased a Cisco IP Telephone system which cost £847.00 with help from the WRVS (Tea Bar).

In December 2012 we moved from our old servers which had served us well to the latest Apple Mac Mini servers and a Lacie hard drive where we now have all of the stations music stored this is needed for a busy radio station this was made possible by a grant from the Hospital League of Friends.

January 2013 was a great start to the year for Bay Trust Radio as we moved from standard broadband which we was getting 2.5mbps to the fibre optic broadband giving us over 40mbps, which has enabled us to do more outside broadcasts. We have also purchased two iPads, which help in recording and producing interviews and local news for the listener. The iPads were possible from a grant from The Cumbria Community Foundation on behalf of Holehurd Trust Windermere.

In July 2013 we were successful in obtaining a grant from the big lottery fund of £8,707 which made it possible for us to purchase a Comrex Access complete with studio rack mount. This equipment allowed us to do more live outside broadcasting using 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection from any location.

In 2014, Bay Trust Radio continued ahead with more plans for the future. We had our Comrex Access delivered and set up the new equipment in our main studio, then planning more outside broadcasts using this sophisticated technology. During 2014 Bay Trust Radio presented many outside broadcasts; including from Morecambe sea front, Lancaster Royal Infirmary, Bowness-in-Windermere and from Kendal town centre during Mintfest and Torchlight Carnival.

We also had a lot of work carried out on our website, creating a fresh and clear station website with more content and a new radio player. We also introduced a listen again feature for shows, making it possible to catch up to shows on the station after they have been broadcast.

It was during 2014 that the station had another upgrade with computers. We were able to upgrade to the most up-to-date version of the Myriad Suite from P Squared; including playout, scheduling and a chance to replace our ‘Scoop’ news programs with Myriad News. This was made possible by obtaining a grant from the Hospital League of Friends. All of these came with new features to make it easier for volunteers to use and create even better radio programmes for our listeners!