The year 1964 saw the launch of York Hospital Radio – a volunteer-run radio station that broadcasts 24 hour a day to the patients, visitors, and staff at York Hospital.
The station plays music around the clock, as well as news, entertainment, and good old chit-chat. It’s entirely self-funded, and relies on fundraising each year to continue its transmissions.
“It’s also really enjoyable and a bit different,” says York Hospital Radio Presenter, Steve Eccles. He’s volunteered for the station since 1978, and the 4th November 2018 will see his 40th year milestone as a Presenter. “It was a Sunday afternoon, and the programme back then was called District Spin – so you can see how long ago that is!” Steve recalls. “All the request shows were dominated by tracks from Grease, because the film was out then. We played at least three per show. We still do request shows and general music programmes today, but we also cover sports and York City games and outside broadcasts.”
Steve continued to reminisce with us about the great times he’s had at the station. “I’ve met some lovely people in the hospital over the years. I once met a young girl who turned out to be the niece of Sting, who asked for a record to be played for ‘Uncle Gordon’, which was particularly funny.
“We had some great memories doing fundraising discos, and I’ve also been lucky enough to interview some big names over the years including Harry Secombe, DJ Mike Read, Sylvester McCoy from Doctor Who, and Gyles Brandreth. We’ve had some great times.”
Despite achieving an incredible 40 years at the microphone, Steve isn’t actually the longest-serving member of the York Hospital Radio team. “My co-presenter on a Saturday morning, Keith Lea, has actually done 53 years. And Phil Bewers, Dennis McMahon, and Jim Gavigan have all done over 40 years. It’s a nice feeling to do something for charity.”
Even though the station has a brilliantly dedicated team in Steve and co., they’re still always looking for new members. “We’re not looking for DJs: we’re looking for Presenters. That’s the phrase we always use. It’s very rewarding – whether it’s helping with music shows, sports shows, outside broadcasts or fundraising. We need about £8,000 a year just to keep going. You can even do it from home. There are lots of ways you can get involved. We’re always looking for people.”