Today I’m looking at the Great British Hosptial Radio Station.
Hospital radio has been around for almost 90 years, the first station opened in York County Hospital in 1925 allowing patients to listen to church services and sports reports. From there the bedside audio companion blossomed slowly developing from just a few across the country to an explosion of popularity in the 1950’s. The focus during the 2nd half of the century moved from service talk to music shows achieving its highest numbers during the 1980’s. From the merging of medical centres over the last 30 years, numbers have gone down as stations have also merged.
Back in the day, shows were mainly for national and community news, covering the things patients would miss while in hospital. As records, gramophones and eventually tapes and cds became more popular, the shows changed with the trends. From the 60’s and the invention of the cassette, presenters were able to record their shows to played at a later date, meaning content could be provided across a wider time period than just when the volunteers where available, in the style of many modern radio stations where regular shows are pre-recorded to allow for editing or to meet the needs of interviews, performances or to maximise the use of the station in limited time frames.
The presenters, producers and station managers are largely all volunteers, often the stations are charity associated and independantly run from the individual hospital to suit the needs of the locality. Most are part of Hospital Broadcasting Association. The people donate their time and effort to running stations and often it can become a big part of their lives, spanning many years of service.
Being part of a hospital radio can beneficial to your career as well as being alot of fun. Presenters and volunteers come in all varieties and ages, some dedicate just an hour a week and some are there as much as they can be. Being a hospital radio DJ is a great way to gain experience and hone your skills to prepare you in applications to professional radio stations. Lots of career DJ’s and radio producers have worked for a long time on hospital radio. Quite apart from the practical skills gained, the dedication to doing something you love for free, shows stations you are a committed presenters or producer. Even if your not interested in becoming a paid DJ, its still a great way to build confidence, make friends and do something different with your spare time.
Many universities have their own radio stations which is also a great route to a pursuing a radio profession, but if you’re not a student, everyone is welcome to hospital radio. To find out about your local station, give them a call! or an email or just check out their website. Here are is a list of the Scottish hospital radio stations currently in operation.
My experience of Hospital Radio has been extremely positive but its important to keep in mind that the depend on their volunteers to keep the place going so they will be looking for you to be available regularly and be committed. Also some stations are particularly popular so if they are full up at the time you write to them, don’t lose heart and keep in contact, when there is a space you’ll be first on their radar.