Did you know that across the ten hospitals of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS FT we host three hospital radio stations?
Sunshine Radio in Weston, Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service and Radio Lollipop in the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children all offer a mixture of music, sport and special interest programming, 24 hours a day.
Contact Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service for Bristol
Contact Sunshine Radio, Weston
Telephone: 01934 619252
Written requests can also be dropped into the studio (ground floor) or left in the box by the shop
Contact Radio Lollipop, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
Mabel Moll interviewed programme controllers from Sunshine Radio in Weston and Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service (BHBS). Read on below to find out more.
Sunshine Radio: Weston. Mabel Moll asked Steve Ledbrook, programme controller, about his favourite memories of Sunshine Radio and how he has adapted to the pandemic.
Hi Steve, can you tell me about Sunshine Radio and its role in the hospital?
Sunshine Hospital Radio has been broadcasting to patients at Weston General since 1978. This year, the team of volunteers have been programming from home as coronavirus has prevented access to their studio in the hospital. We are a unique service with unpaid volunteers who are there for the patients, to make their stay in hospital more comfortable and to put a smile on their face. We visit patients at their bedsides to chat to and receive requests from them. Having that extra personal touch really makes a difference.
We have a dedicated website and also an outside phone line, which means that families and relatives can make dedications and send messages of support. We hope patients can hear us from their bedside units and around the hospital.
We promote services and events around the hospital and have interviewed many guests, which have included Michael Parkinson, various Weston Mayors and other dignities. One of our members even met the Queen. Our Talk of the Town show brings the outside in, so patients can be kept in touch with what's happening in the community.
We also fundraise in and around Weston through collecting at the Weston Carnival, fun runs, abseiling, cake sales and other events. All this for over 40 years.
How have you kept going this year, and how did you come up with the idea for the special Dedications show?
We recently had a studio upgrade so a few of us were able to link to the station from home to keep the station going. It did still offer challenges, as not all of us were able to do this.
The Dedications show was an idea to involve all our volunteers. We wanted something to help cheer up the patients and to thank the staff for their hard and amazing work.
We all recorded personal messages of support, along with song dedications. I was able to record all this via mobile phone and put the show together from home. The songs were all very different which included the likes of the Wurzels, Katrina and the Waves, and many more.
We really hope this made a difference to everyone in the hospital. After 10 months of being unable to go in our studios, we all so want to return very soon.
Does Sunshine Radio have any special programming this December?
Normally during the festive period we visit patients on the wards for their requests, and play Christmas hits which span all decades. We have live local music and also sit and play music within the front entrance of the hospital, chatting to visitors, getting requests and giving directions around the hospital. We can’t do this at the moment, but this New Years Eve we will be joining up with hospital radio stations from across the UK for 30 hours.
What has been your favourite moment from Sunshine Hospital Radio?
I have been involved for 20 years so it's hard to come up with one particular moment! I could mention two moments that have stayed with me. One was a man in his 80s we visited to ask for a request. He asked for Dizzy Rascal and Bonkers as he didn't like any of the old stuff, just the new up to date music. The other was a patient who kept coming down to our studios. When he left I received a letter thanking us for everything we had done and how happy we had made him. Moments like that just stick with you forever.
Bristol: Hospital Radio for Bristol (BHBS). Mabel Moll had a chat with Chris Wood, programme controller, at Hospital Radio for Bristol (BHBS) who has been involved with the station for nearly 50 years.
What makes hospital radio special?
People are in a strange place when they come into hospital, you can be quite disorientated. Normally we go round the wards and collect requests, so we can chat to people who don’t have visitors.
It’s rare to be able to request a particular song on the radio nowadays, however we will always play any requests we get during our daily Requestline shows.
This year people can’t have visitors so much, so we try to be a friendly voice in people’s ears.
How have things changed over the years?
I’ve been involved in BHBS since I was at school in 1972. We’ve moved studios many times, and are now based on Level 10 of the Queen’s building.
In the heyday of the 1970s and 80s we probably had 80 members, now we’re down to about 40 volunteers. Everybody has day jobs so we’ve always done live programming at evenings and weekends. Some people work behind the scenes, others commentate sports matches, others do tech. We have a team of 2-4 to look after each Requestline programme.
Back in the old days we had a vast record library, so sometimes we weren’t able to find a specific song. Nowadays we can find pretty much anything online.
What are the most commonly requested tracks?
My Way by Frank Sinatra, or anything by the Beatles or Elvis.
Do you have any special festive programming this month?
In December we usually record live carol concerts to broadcast. For example, last year one of our members, Rick, recorded the Candlelit Carols at St Matthews in Kingsdown. However, this year it’s unlikely we’ll be able to record any, so we are pulling the best stuff from the archives, including last year’s Above and Beyond Christmas Star Concert from Bristol Cathedral. On Christmas Day we have special programming from 7am to 10pm and of course we will also be covering all festive sport.
Photos credit: Chris Wood