We all recall our first radio steps. Mine were at the hospital radio station in Nottingham, based in a large, dusty pre-fab on the City Hospital campus. Having been turned away for being too young, I was taken on in 1977, aged 16. Early jobs included tidying cupboards and sweeping corridors. A painfully shy, confused, spotty teenager, I pushed myself to travel two green bus rides at my own expense to hop on the ladder to the career I knew I wanted. To anyone who says they do not know whether they want to work in radio, I say maybe don't bother. To those reading this and dreaming, I say follow your heart.
NHR had started life as Radio City in 1974. By my time, it had expanded to a hugely efficient NHR, thanks to the gifted business brain of Barrie James (Pierrepont). It was respected amongst the UK hospital radio fraternity and adopted enviably-equipped facilities at the Queen's Medical Centre.
Many, many talented people in UK radio started life at NHR; and I shall always be grateful for the gifted chap who inspired me there, Steve Voce. It was looking over Steve's shoulder that I learnt to use a mixing desk; to write for radio; and, well, all the radio rudiments. We had turntables back then with slip mats; noisy cart machines; a battered Ferrograph and a treasured Revox. Steve had a radio instinct from which I learnt so much; and I shall forever be grateful for what he taught me. Steve, thank you. His voice concludes this package.
'Proper radio' back then appeared almost impenetrable. There were just 19 commercial stations and a similar number of BBC stations. Elegant, typed excuses rejected every job application I made.
What was delightful though, was the way professional stations responded to NHR's pleas for audio birthday greetings. We suggested to them that poorly patients might recover much more quickly were they to hear celebrity voices. In reality, it was just a clever ploy to hear Radio 1 jingles in stereo. Now, as you'll hear here, those messages form an accidental Blue Peter treasure trove of a time and a place in UK radio history. Enjoy too the NHR Emison jingle: they made a demo cut, from which we made a package! Ssshhh.
In memory of Fluff, John Dunn, Ray Moore Terry Wogan and Dave West.
More hospital radio memories here.