Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2012
Carlisle’s hospital radio marks its 50th anniversary this year and presenters and volunteers have organised a special event next month to celebrate the milestone and raise funds.
Hospital Radio Echo will be holding a sponsored 25-hour broadcast on September 22 and 23 at the Cumberland Infirmary to raise much needed funds for the station, and patients, visitors and staff are being asked to pledge their support.
Volunteers will be collecting donations in the hospital from Monday, September 17, and spreading the word about the work of the radio station. Quiz sheets will also be available to buy, with questions focussing on events over the last 50 years.
There is also a display stand in the hospital’s main atrium looking back at the past half-century, with newspaper articles showing the radio station’s history.
Hospital radio began in Carlisle in January 1962 with live broadcasts of Carlisle United’s home matches. In August 1972, Paul Braithwaite (now a presenter with BBC Radio Cumbria) started a request show and the broadcasts went out to the Cumberland Infirmary, City General and City Maternity Hospitals, as well as Strathclyde House.
Paul was not the only Radio Echo presenter to go on to fame at BBC Radio Cumbria – ‘The Voice of Carlisle United’ Derek Lacey learnt his trade at Brunton Park commentating for the patients in the Carlisle Hospitals.
Dan Slee, the current chairman of Hospital Radio Echo, explained how far the station had come since those early days: “It started in a very small room near the hospital chapel, with two record decks – today the vast majority of the output uses digital files through the purpose-built computer system.
“Today, Hospital Radio Echo has around 20 volunteers and our programmes can be heard 24 hours each day. There are a number of former professional radio presenters on the team and output is improving year on year.
“As a charity which receives no funding, this 25-hour broadcast will raise much needed funds. It will involve the majority of the volunteers in a bid to help secure the future of Carlisle’s very own hospital radio station.”
Hospital Radio Echo can be found on channel five on the Hospedia patient entertainment system at the Cumberland Infirmary. It is a 24-hour station with a live show broadcast most evenings. The name Echo comes from East Cumbria HOspitals.