In the West Midlands area of the UK lies a community called Dudley. In that community is a hospital, and in that hospital is.. a radio station?
Russells Hall Hospital got a visit from Rachel Hickman recently as she sat in on the Ade at Eight show on Dudley Hospital Radio. As the Dudley News reporter for Halesowen News her experience visiting the station is conveniently available online. Here is her take on what drives this internal radio station:
A group of 20 dedicated volunteers have kept the radio station on air for over 30-years, providing a vital service for patients who do not have visitors.
All the patients throughout the vast hospital have headphones by their beds, which allows them to tune into their favourite shows, which run all week.
The station caters for all tastes and ages with programmes including a children’s show, a country and western night and request shows. Musical requests during one show can vary from Glenn Miller’s moonlight serenade to Meatloaf’s bat out of hell to the latest chart toppers and with the station’s huge library containing thousands of vinyls, cds and downloads – there is always something for everyone.
The radio station relies entirely on donations to keep the service up and running – with volunteers having to find nearly £4,000 each year to fund the station.
Now some may ask why I am writing about an internal station that cannot be accessed outside of the hospital building itself. What has this to do with broadcast? Well, it has to do with the experience of radio as opposed to the means of delivering the audio. I would say that the DJs and programming make it fair game. In many ways it is the connection that people feel that defines radio, at least to me.
Having spent a fair amount of time (2 years plus) in a hospital during my youth, I can understand the impact that this service must have. If you are laid up in bed for weeks or more then even frequent visits from friends and family constitute only a few meager hours of your time. Feelings of isolation come easily. Once again we see radio as a powerful force for combating loneliness and creating a connection with an otherwise inaccessible world.