|First air date||13 November 1978|
|Format||News, music, sport, entertainment|
|Operator||BBC Cymru Wales|
|Sister stations||BBC Radio Cymru|
BBC Radio Cymru 2
|Webcast||BBC iPlayer Radio|
BBC Radio Wales is BBC Cymru Wales's national English language radio station. 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.
The station's managing editor is Colin Paterson.
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 every 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. 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, 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 started to embrace 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.
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.
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), 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.
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.
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.
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.
On 24 October 2018, the station extended its FM coverage by taking over 32 relay transmitters, which previously carried 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.
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.