Hospital Radio

Reading time: 3 mins

(I’ve been meaning to jot down some ‘history’ so here is the first in an occasional series, occasional as in ‘when-I-remember’)

When I was sixteen, it was a very good year…

I joined the Boys Brigade in primary school. When I asked why I was greeted with the kind of biblical testament kids soon learn to avoid:
“Why? For once, many mooneth ago, your father’s father was the captain of a great clan of brigaders, he serveth his time, and begat your father. And lo, your father too was press-ganged welcomed into the brigade. He, and his father before him, suffered greatly for the freedom you have today, the freedom to choose to join such a venerable organisation.”

In other words I was told I was joining.

Looking back, once again, my parents were right. It was a wonderful experience, and without it I wouldn’t have some very close friends, including the best man at my wedding. But I’m leaping forward.

I made my way through the years at 1st Dumbarton Boys Brigade, from the Juniors to the Company section, and ended up a Sergeant squad leader. My squad won both trophies that year and I picked up a ‘Best Boy’ trophy that year as well. However the main achievement that year was gaining my Queen’s badge.

The Queen’s badge is the ultimate honour in the Boys Brigade and is hard work. There are several sections of work to be undertaken to prove your worth, including a community service aspect. It just so happened that a friend at school (a member of 2nd Dumbarton *spit*) was also doing his Queen’s badge, and mentioned that he was hoping to join the local hospital radio station. Being musically inclined I thought that was a great idea, and within a couple of weeks I was nervously walking down a hospital corridor to the remote rooms that make up Hospital Radio Lennox.

I can still remember my first night there, helping out with the request show. I’d been to the station for a quick orientation the previous week finding out how it worked, and listening in to the request show. The request show is the core part of hospital radio, visiting the patients, chatting to them, and getting them to listen in when we play a record of their choice. This is the part of hospital radio that is sometimes forgotten, but does make a difference. I lost count of the number of times I heard people say that I was the only visitor they’d had that day.

I digress. Once you been round the wards, it’s back to the studio to look out the records (vinyl!) and prepare for the show. My first ‘proper’ night there I was invited into the studio, and plonked in front of a microphone. Someone assured me I wouldn’t be speaking as there would be training before I was allowed on-air, but they must’ve been pulling my leg for next thing I know:

“Good evening, it’s 9 o’clock and time for the Request Show. My name is Andrew Scott Rankin and joining me tonight are Judith and Gordon…”

Cue draining of blood from face, panic stricken look across at Andrew, and him sitting there grinning like a cheshire cat giving me the thumbs up…

“If you didn’t spot our ward visitors tonight, don’t worry you can always phone us here at the studio, the number is coming up after the first request.”

And with that, he points at me, points at the mic (I already had the headphones on) and stops talking.

“…”
“This.. er.. request is for… Agnes in Ward 14… she’s asked for Chris de Burgh, Lady in Red.”

And that’s how it all started.