Send photos, video and news by texting GUARDIAN SERIES to 80360 (cost 10p), or email us
Hospital radio plays to the crowd
In a basement under a busy hospital a team of volunteers have been keeping patients entertained for more than forty years with their award-winning hospital radio station.
Whipps Cross Hospital Radio (WCHR) started in 1969 in a leaking garden shed in the hospital grounds in Leytonstone, and now it provides 24 hour programming with nearly 50 volunteers from two professional recording studios furnished with ex-BBC equipment.
John Doyle, 55, a volunteer for nearly 30 years, said the station, which is consistently chosen by patients over other mainstream stations, is so successful because they play to their listeners.
Mr Doyle says the majority of their listeners are in their 60s and 70s, so they stick to a repertoire of older music from the 40s through to the 70s.
He said: “We try and aim at the age market that’s in the hospital for longer and we think that’s why it’s successful. We know our market.”
The nightly request shows where presenters go on to the wards and take requests directly from patients are at the heart of the station’s live programming.
Mr Doyle said they would play anything they were asked to, even heavy metal, but most of the time the requests are for older music.
“We love getting more difficult requests, when someone comes up with something you’ve never heard of,” said Mr Doyle, who is a finance director for a manufacturing firm in Essex during the day.
The familiar voices of the presenters, like Mr Doyle, who have been talking to patients over the airwaves for nearly 30 years, are more than entertainment for some people.
Station Manager, Phil Hughes, who was a daytime editor for BBC Radio 2 until he retired last year, said: “I'm still excited by the impact we can have on listeners.
“Just having a chat and playing a record can really make a difference and when we get a message from a patient who has been in a few weeks that says how much they appreciate the company and relaxing music - especially overnight, it does really make it worthwhile.”
This service the station performs for patients was recognised in March this year when it won two Gold awards at the National Hospital Broadcasting Association for excellence in radio programming and connecting with and supporting patients in the hospital.
For Mr Doyle, it’s a hobby he’s enjoyed for years and something he is proud to do.
He said: “I enjoy doing it. Sometimes you’ve had a bad day at work and then you start doing the programme and it cheers you up.
“When I’m doing the programmes, that’s when I’m happiest.”
Comments are closed on this article.