Over the years, hospital radio DJs must have helped provide comfort and cheer for a great many patients – many of whom would have been treated here on South Tyneside.
And thanks to a recent picture spread, published in the Gazette, one of those record-spinners has been in touch to tell us about the times when he and his colleagues worked for Hospital Radio South Tyneside.
Not only that, but Ian Duncan has also supplied a galaxy of old photos, many of them taken by his dad William, providing us with a snapshot of the life and times of a local hospital radio studio and its staff.
As Ian explains: “I am now a journalist working in Cumbria, but am originally from Shields.
“I used to be a presenter with Hospital Radio South Tyneside and also helped with the move to what is now South Tyneside District Hospital.
“My dad used to take photos in a semi-official capacity, and I have an archive of the shots, including the official opening of the new studio in 1984.
“I am still in contact with one or two of the presenters from back in the day.”
Intrigued, I asked Ian to tell us more about his experiences, which he kindly did.
“Basically I got interested in hospital radio after I left school and was studying electrical engineering at South Shields Marine and Technical College (now South Tyneside College),” he said.
“I was interested in getting involved and my mam (Sheila Duncan) worked with Paul Keenan at the Gazette, who also volunteered.
“I started helping Paul in 1982 on his Friday show and eventually got my own programme, a rock show on Thursday nights called Crazy Train after an Ozzy Osbourne track – although this was sometimes misprinted in the Gazette as Gravy Train (the paper used to print the listings every night).
“I really enjoyed my time with hospital radio (I left around 1986) and I feel it helped me decide on my subsequent career in journalism. I used to read out stories and snippets from the national papers during my shows.
“I trained as a photographer in Sheffield (on the NCTJ Press Photography course in 1991) and worked for the North West Evening Mail in Barrow-in-Furness before working at a North East news agency.
“I retrained as a reporter in Darlington in 2002 and have since worked on papers in Scunthorpe, Hexham, Scarborough, Carlisle and Penrith.”
“It was good playing requests for patients – I even managed to play a Fleetwood Mac song for my mam when she was in hospital recovering from surgery.
“A few years back I visited the current studios, which are now in the main building, and I was surprised how hi-tech it had become, I do feel nostalgic for the old days of cassettes.”
* Tomorrow we feature more Hospital Radio South Tyneside memories, and photos taken by Ian’s dad.