HOSPITAL radio on Wearside is entering a new era as it launches an online service.
Radio Sunderland for Hospitals, which was established in 1953, has begun the new venture as it seeks to increase the number of listeners tuning in.
Ther are 10 days of special programming with celebrities and local well-known figures sitting in the hot seat to record their own shows.
Guests will include TV agony aunt Denise Robertson, Frankie, lead singer of Frankie and the Heartstrings, and Echo editor Rob Lawson.
Radio Sunderland chairman Bill Bowes, who has spent 40 years at the station, said: “The strength of hospital broadcasting and visiting service is in its ability to relate directly with individual listeners and specifically the patients in hospital as we don’t just play their favourite music on ‘Ward Call’ but we interact with them, the hospital staff and the visitors.
“The patients definitely appreciate the station and as part of our role we actually visit the patients on their wards.
“We take requests from the patients to play on the station and we also take the time to explain that the radio is free to listen to.”
The celebration also coincides with the launch of National Hospital Radio Broadcasting Week.
Echo editor Rob Lawson said: “This was a great experience which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“It’s excellent that Radio Sunderland is expanding its service so more people in hospital can listen to their broadcasts.
“It is a very valuable service and hopefully this will help it continue into the future.”
In January the Echo reported that Bill and his colleague Michael Speight had accrued 70 years of service to the station and were honoured with long service awards.
The station was established in 1953 to broadcast commentary from Sunderland football games at Roker Park but music soon followed, being first broadcast in 1956.