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BBC Radio Wales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BBC Radio Wales
BBC Radio Wales logo 2019.svg
Broadcast areaWales
FormatNews, music, sport, entertainment
OperatorBBC Cymru Wales
First air date
13 November 1978 (1978-11-13)
WebcastBBC Sounds Edit this at Wikidata

BBC Radio Wales is a Welsh radio station operated by the BBC. It began broadcasting on 13 November 1978, following the demise of the 'Radio 4 Wales' service (previously the Welsh Home Service) and BBC Radio 4's transformation into a national network, moving from medium wave to long wave. Radio Wales broadcasts in English, whilst sister station Radio Cymru has Welsh language programming.

The station's managing editor is Colin Paterson.[1]

According to RAJAR, the station has a weekly audience of 316,000 listeners and a listening share of 4% as of December 2018.[2]


In November 1978, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Scotland were created as distinct stations on the former Radio 4 Scottish and Welsh medium wave opt-out frequencies of 810 and 882 kHz. They were initially part-time services, broadcasting for only 20 hours per week, and relaying Radios 2 and 4 at other times. However, the groundwork had been laid for both networks to gradually become full-time services. Radio Wales now broadcasts for up to 20 hours a day with a simulcast of the BBC World Service after closedown each night.

BBC Radio Wales was preceded in the autumn of 1978 by four experimental local radio stations broadcasting for a single week: Radio Wrexham, Radio Deeside, Radio Merthyr and Radio Rhondda. They were broadcast using an RTÉ Outside Broadcast transmitter.[3] The first editor of BBC Radio Wales was Teleri Bevan, a former producer for Radio 4 Wales.

Radio Wales commenced broadcasting at 6.30am on Monday 13 November 1978 with the first edition of AM, a breakfast magazine show presented by Anita Morgan, which replaced the news-driven predecessor Good Morning Wales. Chris Stuart later took over AM, presenting the programme for almost a decade, before it was replaced by a revival of Good Morning Wales, which was again axed in May 2019. The other main presenters for the first decade on air included Mike Flynn, who hosted a show each weekday until 1989, Vincent Kane, Noreen Bray and Alun Williams.

By 1985, Roy Noble was also a regular daily voice, presenting weekday magazine shows for the station for 27 years. Old Radio 4 type continuity studios were modified to become 'self operated' by the early 1980s. Outside broadcasts from different towns in Wales were also introduced, with Mike Flynn and Alun Williams hosting a weekly three-hour live show on Friday mornings.

BBC Radio Wales also began to use publicity similar to the type used by commercial radio stations in the UK. Other early presenters included Wyn Calvin, Maureen Staffer, Sylvia Horn, G. V. Wynne Jones (Geevers), Claire Vincent, Piet Brinton, Jackie Emlyn and Princess Anne's biographer Brian Hoey.

Radio Gwent and Radio Clwyd opt-outs

Following BBC Wales' experiments with community radio in 1978, two permanent opt-out services were developed in the North East and the South East. Radio Deeside was reopened in February 1980 in response to the closure of the Shotton steelworks.

Its coverage area was expanded to the rest of Clwyd in October 1981 and the station was subsequently renamed BBC Radio Clwyd, broadcasting extended local news bulletins, a mid-morning show and occasional special programming from studios in Mold until its closure in October 1993. After the closure of Radio Clwyd, local bulletins for north-east Wales continued until 2002 - staff having moved from Mold to Wrexham in summer 1998.

BBC Radio Gwent, based in Cwmbran, broadcast from 18 April 1983 until March 1991. Radio Gwent was available on FM, and since its closure has continued to relay the national Radio Wales service on the same FM frequencies to the Gwent area. Both of these stations operated at peak times only, and carried Radio Wales at other times.[4]


BBC Radio Wales broadcasts each weekday from 5.30am - 1am and from 5am - 1am at weekends. The station simulcasts overnight programming from the BBC World Service after closedown every night.

Weekday programming includes the flagship breakfast news magazine Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers (Monday–Thursday),[5] magazine shows with Jason Mohammad (Monday–Wednesday), Wynne Evans and Eleri Siôn, the evening show with Janice Long, and Chris Needs' long-running Friendly Garden from 10pm-1am until late July 2020, when he died at the age of 66.

Weekend programming includes Sunday afternoon shows with Lynn Bowles and Roy Noble, Adam Walton's new music show on Saturday nights, Celtic Heartbeat with Frank Hennessy and entertainment shows with comedians Chris Corcoran and Owen Money.

Sports coverage

A BBC Wales Sport radio booth
A BBC Wales Sport radio booth

Radio Wales Sport is broadcast on Saturdays, generally between 2pm and 7pm, during the football and rugby season (the programme is extended on occasions to include live commentary of early and late matches).

Radio Wales Sport features localised FM commentary of Swansea City in the south west of Wales, Cardiff City in the south-east of Wales, and Wrexham in north Wales with a rolling service of match updates and results on medium wave. The station's commentators are led by BBC Wales football correspondent Rob Phillips and BBC Wales rugby correspondent Gareth Charles. The summarisers include former Wales football captain Kevin Ratcliffe and former Wales flanker Martyn Williams.

Notable presenters


BBC Radio Wales is broadcast across Wales on AM, FM and DAB. It is also availabale on Freeview in Wales and throughout the UK on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

As Radio Wales was created from an opt-out of BBC Radio 4, it inherited the medium wave transmitters previously used by Radio 4 across Wales—the main service coming from the Washford transmitter in Somerset on 882 kHz. This transmitter was originally built to cover southern Wales and most of the West Country, and has a far greater coverage than its intended transmission area. It can be heard across the Bristol area, in much of Devon and northern Cornwall, as well as eastern and south eastern counties of Ireland.

Initially, Radio Wales was not broadcast on FM as Radio 4's former FM transmitters in Wales were used for BBC Radio Cymru. In 1983, Radio Wales gained some FM coverage with the creation of opt-out service, BBC Radio Gwent. After the breakfast programme, Radio Gwent simulcast most of Radio Wales' output. When the station closed in 1991, the FM frequencies were retained to broadcast Radio Wales.

From 1999 onwards, the BBC was able to start creating an FM network for Radio Wales, including a 120 kW ERP transmitter near Aberystwyth. On 6 December 2011, Radio Wales added the 250 kW ERP Wenvoe transmitter to its network on 103.9 MHz FM, replacing a low-power FM transmitter on the Wenallt Hill.

On 24 October 2018, the station increased its FM coverage in North East and Mid Wales by taking over 32 transmitters previously used by BBC Radio 3. The changeover allowed an estimated 400,000 listeners to receive Radio Wales on FM, extending its reach to a potential 91% of households in Wales.[6]

Regional opt-outs have been established for sports coverage on FM; specifically live football commentaries involving Cardiff City in the South East, Swansea City in the South West and Wrexham in the North.

Race discrimination case

In 2001, presenter Lionel Kelleway won a case for racial discrimination against BBC Radio Wales, when they dropped his Landmark series, which won Sony Awards in 1991 and 1992,[7] after around ten years, because of his English accent.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Colin Paterson appointed editor of BBC Radio Wales". BBC Media Centre (Press release). 22 November 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  2. ^ "RAJAR". RAJAR. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. ^ BBC Handbook 1978. British Broadcasting Corporation. 1977. p. 123. ISBN 9780563174769.
  4. ^ "Broadcasting (Wales)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 21 January 2003. col. 274–280.
  5. ^ "Claire Summers to host the new BBC Radio Wales breakfast news programme". BBC Media Centre (Press release). BBC. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Major FM boost for BBC Radio Wales". BBC Media Centre (Press release). BBC. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2020. From Wednesday 24 October, BBC Radio Wales will be available across 91% of Wales, thanks to a major boost to its FM signal. Wales’s national radio station - which currently reaches 79% of households in Wales - will be available to more listeners than ever before on FM. Listeners in North East and Mid Wales are set to benefit most from the expansion. The changes will be achieved by using a small number of existing FM frequencies currently allocated to BBC Radio 3.
  7. ^ a b Keating, Matt (12 June 2001). "BBC voice 'not Welsh enough'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC Wales loses 'race' case". BBC News. 1 August 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 September 2020, at 19:27
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