• The Hub

Epsom Hospital Radio: A New Future Online

Updated: Apr 14


Picture: Members of Epsom Hospital Radio, Sept 1985 - Trevor Leonard is on the top row third from the left. / Credit: Epsom Hospital Radio


Epsom’s hidden radio gem, Epsom Hospital Radio, is looking forward to a new future online. EHR was founded in October 1978 by two mobile DJs who raised the funds to equip a second hand 10 feet by 6 feet garden shed with some crude broadcasting equipment. The studio was placed on an exposed area on the roof of the then Epsom General Hospital. In the depths of winter it was a hostile working environment. On colder days, presenters regularly broadcast in heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves.


 

Trevor Leonard - 40 Years Service


Picture: Trevor Leonard in the EHR studio in the 80s / Credit: Epsom Hospital Radio


Life President Presenter Trevor Leonard is EHR’s longest serving presenter. Starting in 1981, Trevor became the Programme Controller in 1983, overseeing EHR’s first awards for the standard and variety of its programming. An ardent Elvis fan, in August 2021 Trevor celebrated 40 years continuous service by hosting a breakfast for current presenters at The Haywain pub, Epsom.


 

24 Hours a Day, 365 Days of the Year


Picture: Ian Daggett, Station Manager at EHR / Credit: Epsom Hospital Radio


Today the station broadcasts 24 hours a day, every day of the year, staffed by a team of volunteer presenters, from two studios opposite the X-Ray Department. Says station manager, Ian Daggett: “We are here to keep you amused, entertained and informed during your stay. You can find us on the radio section of your Hospedia terminal – and all our services are completely free!


Our programmes carry regular information about the wide variety of services available to you during your stay in Epsom Hospital. We also provide the latest local, national and international news, plus sports coverage and a wide variety of music styles and genres.


We play familiar songs and favourite artists across six decades from the 50s to the 2000s – and in addition we have regular specialist programmes covering classical, jazz, drama, comedy, interviews with hospital staff, local community groups and personalities, and more.”


 

A Wonderful Dad & Grandpa


YouTube video: Miss Pinkerton by The Cuppa T


Epsom-based designer Stuart Lythgoe recently asked the station to read an on air birthday message to his father Viv: “This is a massive ‘Happy Birthday!’ thank you for being a wonderful Dad and Grandpa – from Jo, Stu, Oscar and Poppy. We love you loads xxx”.


Picture: Viv Lythgoe (right) in his The Cuppa T days / Credit: www.discogs.com


Stuart asked for 1967 single Miss Pinkerton by guitar player Viv’s band The Cuppa T to be played as the birthday song. The song notes state: "1967 song giving the story of a secretary, featuring a very interesting combination of instruments."


 

Test Match Special


Picture: Dr Abhay Bajpai, Clinical Lead for Arrhythmia Services at Epsom Hospital on a pre-Covid visit to the EHR studios with his daughter Sonal / Credit: The Hub


Dr Abhay Bajpai, Clinical Lead for Arrhythmia Services and nurse Kathy Maskens, Community Matron at the Alexandra Frailty Unit, regularly feature on the station. Dr Bajpai visited EHR’s studios with his daughter Sonal pre-Covid and featured in an EHR Test Match Special. In an interview recorded at local pub The Jolly Cooper’s Abhay waxed lyrical about his love of the red ball game.


 

The A Team


YouTube video: Ed Sheeran - The A Team


Kathy Maskens is the inspiration behind The A team, a Friday afternoon 2-4pm request show for the patients and staff on the Alexandra Frailty Unit.


Ed Sheeran’s The A Team and the theme from 80s US TV show The A-Team double as musical themes for the show. Kathy has featured in an EHR 8GR8 Songs episode with an interview about her career as a nurse including some of her favourite music.


Picture: Kathy Maskens, Community Matron at The Alexandra Frailty Unit

/ Credit: Kathy Maskens


 

When the Going Gets Tough


YouTube video: Billy Ocean - When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going


Marie Measures, Head of Nursing for Medicine at Epsom and St Helier University Hospital NHS Trust, used the station to send a message of thanks for the resilience of her nursing team during Covid. “Thank you to all of Medicine’s matrons and to their teams for continuous hard work and dedication in very challenging times.”


Marie appropriately asked for Billy Ocean’s When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going to be played as a musical tribute to her team.


 

A Future Online


Picture: A montage of EHR's current presenters. Trevor Leonard is top right.

/ Credit: Epsom Hospital Radio


Having weathered the impact of Covid on the station - halting in studio broadcasting for over a year, ward visits to gather requests still on hold, the loss of a number of presenters, along with the financial impact on a shoestring budget - EHR is now looking to a new future online. EHR has always relied on the generosity of local people, organisations and businesses to keep the station operational.


Epsom-based company director Kevin Johnson recently offered the station his old work from home computer and monitor, saying: "Hopefully you will get some use out of it." The unit now has a second life, replacing a regularly crashing computer, providing a reliable source of online searching for musical titbits on song choices and quiz trivia.


Chief engineer Andy Tijou has connected Kevin's computer to Zoom and Skype allowing presenters to speak to outside guests live on air, wherever they may be in the world.


Support Community Broadcasting


The station will soon recruit a new crop of talented presenters to add to its roster of live in studio broadcasters. EHR is also fundraising for its Going Online Fund to assemble the equipment and licenses needed to reach a broader audience in Epsom and Ewell, and beyond, outside the walls of the hospital.


Explains Ian Daggett: “In our 44 years of broadcasting there has never been a greater need for a dynamic local hospital radio station. Going online will help us to bring light relief and a sense of community to the hard-pressed staff at Epsom Hospital and to the people of Epsom and Ewell when they, or their loved ones and family or friends, are in hospital.”


You can donate to the station’s Going Online Fund, or generally support EHR’s activities via: www.epsomhospitalradio.org.uk/donate.


Note: This blog was first published as an article on The Epsom & Ewell Times.


 




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