As the NHS celebrates its 75th birthday, Greatest Hits Radio presenter Ken Bruce goes ‘Back to the Start’ for an hour long special looking at the world of hospital radio.
Hospital Radio Glamorgan is one of over 150 hospital radio stations, that has an immeasurable impact on NHS staff and patients across the UK – entertaining and lifting spirits when most needed.
As a patron of Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio Ken chose Studio One at the hospital to record this emotional documentary in which we’ll hear how his incredible 45 years in broadcasting began at Glasgow’s Hospital Broadcasting Service – the very first time he ever stepped foot in a radio studio.
We’ll hear in Ken’s own words about the lessons he learned from that time (‘Play what the customer wants!’) and why hospital radio remains vitally important for the next generation of broadcasters to get experience. There’s also the chance to listen to the very first records he ever played to those patients tuning into his request show as well as the current most requested hospital radio songs.
Ken is joined on this hour-long broadcast by Greatest Hits Radio colleague Simon Mayo, who presents the station’s Drivetime show. Simon started his career at Southlands Hospital in West Sussex and he reminisces on his time there as well as speaking to Virginia Irvine-Fortescue who was recently named as Best Female Presenter of the Year at the National Hospital Radio Awards for her work volunteering at Grampian Hospital Radio. The winner of Best Male Presenter, Paul Stanley, also chats to Jo Russell for the documentary.
Other guests on the show include Martin Kinch who has volunteered at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio since January 1979 and remembers playing records on vinyl and how patients would listen to the radio on plastic tubes that came out of the wall! Ken also spoke to Anna Cook, a cancer care nurse who recently won a Rising Star Award for the NHS and spoke about the impact hospital radio has on patients – particularly those in for a long stay.
Ken’s final guest was Peter Dickson (pictured above, voice of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent and a fellow supporter of Stoke Mandeville’s hospital radio station). As with Ken, Peter got his start in hospital radio where he learnt his trade eventually becoming, in his own words, ‘a voice for hire.’
Ken Bruce said: ‘On what is a very special day for the NHS it feels fitting that Greatest Hits Radio should be looking at how important hospital radio has been to both patients and staff over the past decades. I know for me it was an opportunity to do something I loved but give back to people at the same time. It allowed me to make a lot of mistakes – that I continued to make in my professional career! – but it gave me the confidence to get out of them. It has nurtured incredible broadcasting talent, been a lifeline for patients and an escape for staff with hugely demanding jobs. We’re thrilled that Greatest Hits Radio can highlight this incredible institution that has meant so much to those who have ever had to spend time in or worked in one of our NHS hospitals.’
You can hear this special show on Hospital Radio Glamorgan on Saturday 8th July at 7pm/ Sunday 9th July at 4pm.

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