Looking for a wider view of the charity community in Bournemouth, we interviewed Mark Venus, station manager from the Hospital Bedside Radio. This station works with both Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals to offer a variety of content for patients...
WHAT IS HOSPITAL RADIO BEDSIDE?
Hospital Radio Bedside is a charity radio station run entirely by volunteers. It has broadcast professional transmission to the local hospitals 24 hours a day since 1972.
The beauty of it is the variety. We provide a HUGE range of programs, from the one that was designed for children to those aimed at people in their 70s or older. We have specialist jazz programs, ‘60s programs or even sport ones. Like my own show, which runs every Sunday between 3 and 5pm.
WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR PROGRAM?
The Request Show. Of course, the most-listened-to program is the one that plays the patients’ choices.
We have 90 minutes a day during the week, and some special request programs on the weekend. These shows give the people in our local hospitals the opportunity to tell us what they want to listen to. And that’s what we’re here for – to understand our listeners.
HOW BIG IS YOUR AUDIENCE? ARE YOU LOOKING TO EXPAND IT?
We have a maximum known capacity that is the number of beds that are in the hospital, but I follow the idea that your audience is ONE. You never broadcast for millions of people; you talk to one person. “How are you?” “Are you feeling okay today?” “Is this your choice of music?”
So, the number of listeners in our head is one.
A patient can be a really lonely person, with little-to-no contact with their loved ones. Visitors have to go home and get back to the day-to-day life. But if that family or friend can listen at home online, and that person in the hospital can tune into the same thing, there is a connection between them.
WHAT DO YOU DO AS A RADIO STATION TO HELP THE COMMUNITY?
Music can help people to recover better and quicker, and we also provide a human voice. We send our volunteers to collect requests from the patients to play on the radio for them. It’s a very personal service and it brings people together.
HOW MANY VOLUNTEERS DO YOU HAVE?
We have about 60-70 volunteers in all, but I’d say that we have about 30 volunteers that are most often at the station. We are always looking for volunteers – the more people we have, the more we can do.
At the moment, a lot of our programs are live, but also some are pre-recorded using a fantastic computer system. If we get more volunteers, we can have more “one-to-one” conversations, live programs. This is what we want.