USW students join forces with health board on launch of new hospital radio station

USW journalism students helping on new hospital radio Ysbyty Ystrad FM

UNIVERSITY of South Wales (USW) students are helping to deliver a new hospital radio service that is starting today

The group of journalism undergraduates has been part of the team which is behind Ysbyty Ystrad FM (YYFM), which will give patients a full service of music, chat and news direct to their digital devices.

YYFM was the brainchild of Project Lead Steven Davies - who works at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr – after he spotted an opportunity to give patients a greater sense of belonging, and to also help those living with dementia to recall memories.

After making contact two years ago with Steve Johnson, who is Community Radio Tutor in USW’s Faculty of Creative Industries, which is based at the University’s Cardiff Campus, the project was established.

Seeing an opportunity to give USW’s BA Journalism students a chance to work on YYFM to secure work experience placement, the project further developed and has finally come to life today.

Jordan Howell, a final-year journalism student at USW and the Content Controller for the new radio service, explained what it will provide.

“The new innovative on-demand hospital radio service will help to combat loneliness, boredom and the feeling of isolation that some patients face when staying in hospital - something that has only been emphasised more during the Coronavirus pandemic,” he explained.

“Through links that Steven Davies has established with Caerphilly County Borough Council, USW, a number of local schools, and other key stakeholders, there will be plenty of content for the listeners to enjoy - such as news summaries, interviews, documentaries and radio dramas, even the opportunity to start learning a new language.

“The service will also be used to deliver vital hospital messaging from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB), and Covid-19 guidance from the Welsh Government.”

For USW students, the new station has provided an opportunity to get real-world skills.

“As part of our course we have to carry out work experience, so this was the perfect opportunity for the students to get a placement on a live broadcasting medium,” Jordan said.

“With lecturer Steve Johnson overseeing things, other journalism students have been involved – Lauren Evans, Gabi Page, and Welsh-speaker Alaw John, with Gareth Williams providing sports coverage – all of who will be able to provide news and interviews to the listeners.”

As well as taking on a major role as Content Controller, Jordan was also involved in setting up a website – - for patients to have easy access to the station’s content, which they can access through their own digital devices, or those available at the hospital.     

And once he has completed his studies at USW this summer, Jordan plans to continue working on YYFM, and helping the next generation of students to develop their broadcast skills.

Project Lead Steven Davies gave his thanks for USW’s support.

“As founder of YYFM, and on behalf of ABUHB, I wish to express a message of gratitude for USW's involvement in this significant project. With special thanks going to Steve Johnson, Jordan Howell and a team of journalism students,” he said.

“USW's knowledge and skills have allowed my initial ideas to develop and the enthusiasm and input of the students has allowed it to come to life.

“ABUHB and USW are now looking forward to continuing to collaborate to allow the project to develop further and flourish, future plans being the continued involvement of students on YYFM over many years, allowing a community-focused project to mature.

“I hope I speak for everyone involved in this exciting community-focused project, which I am sure will deliver benefits for patients, students, local schoolchildren, and the community as a whole.

“It will also demonstrate and reinforce local public sector links between ABUHB, USW, and Caerphilly Council, and I am hoping the project will give an opportunity for local schoolchildren to develop their skills in media studies.”