IT’S seven o’clock on a Wednesday evening and, behind an anonymous door in the quiet, ‘old’ part of Wrexham Maelor hospital, Jimmy Smith puts on the first record of his country show.
Jimmy is the station’s programme controller and is one of 12 DJs who, each week, give up their time voluntarily for Wrexham’s smallest radio station.
Radio Maelor has been going in its current form since 1979 but its roots go back further.
As far back as the 1950s, in fact, when coverage of Wrexham matches were broadcast live from The Racecourse across the hospital airwaves.
Half a century on and the football commentaries continue every Saturday, during the season, at 3pm.
“I got involved because I really do enjoy music and have done from the moment I bought Bill Haley’s Rock around the Clock in 1958,” said Jimmy.
“Some years after that I was involved on a country show on what was then Marcher Sound and that’s where it progressed from.
“I started taking part country music discos in Ellesmere Port for a couple of years and I also supported some popular bands of the time.
“All of a sudden it took off and I ran it as a business for 18 years.”
Jimmy started at Radio Maelor in 2001.
“I saw an advert in the paper which said they were looking for new presenters. I was trained by the previous secretary and that was that.”
Jimmy now presents two shows a week – his specialist country show on a Wednesday and ‘Oldies but Goodies’ on a Thursday – as well as fulfilling his duties as controller.
One of his aims is to recruit new volunteers as presenters, assistants, or even those who can just visit wards and collect requests.
“It’s working well, we are getting new presenters in all the time,” Jimmy said.
“But we always need more, especially for afternoon slots. We are all volunteers but we enjoy doing it.”
And, you don’t have to be a seasoned DJ like Jimmy.
Presenter and station secretary Catherine Olier had no previous experience before she joined the team in 1995.
“I just wanted a new hobby,” she recalled. “I’d always had a big interest in music and I managed to get some work experience at Marcher Sound and then I got involved here.”
The team at Radio Maelor are looking to increase their profile in the hospital and within the wider community.
They already have a Facebook page and email account which patients can use to submit their requests, as well as a telephone number.
The station is also holding a sponsored Radiothon on Sunday, August 28 with continuous broadcasting throughout the day to raise money for Nightingale House.
Although they predominantly play patient requests, many of the presenters are aiming for more variety in their shows.
“I’ve started doing a lot more interviews on my show,” said Catherine. “I’ve interviewed businesswoman Stephanie Booth and Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.
“I’ve also spoken to a number of members of local operatic societies and, if anybody has an event to promote, we would also be keen to have them on the show.”
The station isn’t short of dedicated people but the team do need more volunteers, especially those who can contribute during the daytime and anyone with IT expertise.
For more details contact Catherine via email at wrexhamradiomaelor@
hotmail.co.uk or call 07875 628494.
See full story in the Leader