BBC Radio Wales
FM: 93.9–95.9, 103.7 and 103.9 MHz|
AM: 657, 882 and 1152 kHz
DAB: 10D, 12A, 12C and 12D
Freeview: 719 (Wales only)
Sky: 0117 (UK only)
Virgin Media: 931
|First air date||13 November 1979|
|Format||News, Music, Sport, Entertainment|
|Audience share||5.4% (June 2016, RAJAR)|
|Operator||BBC Cymru Wales|
|Sister stations||BBC Radio Cymru|
|Webcast||BBC iPlayer Radio|
BBC Radio Wales is BBC Cymru Wales's national English language radio station. The station 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. The current editor of the station is Steve Austins.
In November 1978, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Wales 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 part-time initially, broadcasting for only 20 hours per week, and relaying Radio 4 at other times; however the groundwork had been laid for the stations to become important, respected full-time services. Radio Wales now broadcasts for 19 1⁄2 hours each weekday and 20 hours on Saturday and Sunday with a simulcast of the BBC World Service after closedown every night.
BBC Radio Wales was preceded in the autumn of 1978 by four experimental local radio stations broadcasting for a week: Radio Wrexham, Radio Deeside, Radio Merthyr and Radio Rhondda. They were broadcast for just one week using an RTÉ Outside Broadcast transmitter. The first editor of BBC Radio Wales was Teleri Bevan, a former BBC Radio 4 Wales producer. Anita Morgan presented a breakfast show called AM, but this soon gave way to a more modern show for the period, presented by Chris Stuart. The other main presenters for the first decade were Mike Flynn, 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 Friday morning live programme. BBC Radio Wales also started to embrace publicity similar to that used by UK commercial radio. 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.
Regional opt-outs were later established for sports coverage, specifically live football commentaries involving Cardiff City in the South East, Swansea City in the South West and Wrexham in the North.
Current programmes include the flagship breakfast and drive-time news programmes Good Morning Wales and Good Evening Wales, the current affairs phone-in Morning Call, weekday magazine shows with Jason Mohammad and Eleri Siôn, Wynne Evans' Friday afternoon show, and Chris Needs in his Friendly Garden, which airs each week night from 9 pm. Weekend presenters on the station include Roy Noble, Wales Today anchor Jamie Owen, Adam Walton's Saturday night new music show, Celtic Heartbeat with Frank Hennessy, and comedians Rhod Gilbert and Owen Money.
Radio Wales Sport is broadcast on Saturdays between 2 pm and 6.30 pm during the football and rugby season (the programme is extended on occasions to include live commentary of early and late matches). The programme also airs on weekday evenings from 7 pm to 9 pm (extending to 10 pm on nights with live commentary).
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.
For many years, Radio Wales was broadcast only on medium wave, using a 100 kilowatt transmitter broadcasting on 882 kHz from Washford in Somerset; the BBC considered that the Welsh language network BBC Radio Cymru would not have enough listeners to merit a medium wave frequency. The only exception was the opt-out service Radio Gwent, which from 1983 broadcast on two FM frequencies and simulcast most of Radio Wales' output outside of breakfast. When the station closed in 1991, the frequencies continued to relay Radio Wales.
Since 1999, Radio Wales has been expanding its FM network, starting in areas like Cardiff and Wrexham, where there are a smaller proportion of Welsh language speakers. The medium wave transmitter at Washford 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.
BBC Radio Wales commenced broadcasting from the Wenvoe transmitter on 6 December 2011. This replaced the low power VHF transmitter on the Wenallt Hill, which had until then also broadcast BBC Wales VHF programme on 103.9 MHz to a limited area of South East Wales. The station is also broadcast on DAB Digital Radio and Freeview across Wales, as well as across the UK and Europe on satellite.
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, after around ten years, because of his English accent.
- "Steve Austins announced as new Editor BBC Radio Wales" (Press release). BBC. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- "Broadcasting (Wales)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 21 January 2003. col. 274–280.
- Keating, Matt (12 June 2001). "BBC voice 'not Welsh enough'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "BBC Wales loses 'race' case". BBC News. 1 August 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2013.