Peter Wilson opened the proceedings by welcoming our lady guests and advising of 4 apologies.
Today’s guest speakers were Mike Streeter and Steve Pexton from Harrogate Hospital Radio (HHR). They had set up their mini studio and loudspeakers to give us an idea of what might transpire if we ever pitched up for a studio interview.
In the chair, Mike Streeton began with a potted history of the organisation. The radio started back in October 22nd 1977 broadcasting at weekends from a small room next to the District Hospital morgue and then forwarding a recording of the show to the General Hospital. Later a landline was established to the General, Scotton Banks and The Royal Bath Hospitals for simultaneous transmission of programmes across the network.
Today’s organisation has a volunteer unpaid staff of 50 including 30 presenters, 16 request collectors and 2 technical guys. They have now expanded from their original accommodation into 3 rooms – a broadcast studio, a preparation studio and a CD and equipment store.
Keeping up to speed with technical and lifestyle developments is crucial for the success of media organisations. Mike was particularly happy to explain how they had lobbied OFCOM many times to take over the 95.3FM frequency vacated by Stray FM and how they finally got their permissions.
This was a game changer and opened up the HHR channel to the general public through both a smartphone App and FM radio. Their listener footprint has more than tripled and also allowed the introduction of outside broadasts. This year’s plans include broadcasting visits to the Yorkshire and Nidderdale Shows, to the Knaresborough Bed Race and interviews with visiting celebrities.
Steve Pexton recalled his own recruitment in September 1980 and how he has been a fixture ever since. He now presents two Music Request shows a week plus the Sunday Supplement which covers a miscellany of topical items.
Former Headmaster, Mike Streeter, started broadcasting in 2006 after 6 months training. His present contributions reflect his interest in jazz and its singers with a broadcast every Sunday from 11am to 1pm for lovers of swing called All that Jazz. Then, on Monday he singles out a favourite performer or group and puts them on air in Stars in the Spotlight.
The meeting continued with anecdotes from Mike and Steve of their experiences in doing celebrity interviews – some good and some bad – plus a recording of the inauguration of the 95.3FM band and finished with a poem read out by Pam Ayres during her celebrity interview
In thanking Steve and Mike for their presentation, Andrew MacHutchon commended them for their work which must generate many beneficial effects among NHS Patients and Staff alike, and thanked them for their contribution to Society.
The next meeting is scheduled after the Easter break for Tuesday 26th April and is the Annual General Meeting. Secretary Richard Wright advised that all reports and documents would be posted to members in advance by email for examination and printing. Once again, he mentioned the vacancies on the management board and admitted that the response so far reminded him of the song “The Sound of Silence”. Hopefully, someone will pipe up soon.