How long have you been a DJ at Epsom Hospital radio?
Since November 2019. I was recovering after an operation and knew I’d have three months off work and wanted to do something creative and positive with that time. I saw that Epsom Hospital Radio were looking for volunteer presenters, so decided to apply.
How did it go?
Tough to start as my op’ was for a pituitary gland tumour, so it was difficult to take on new information; I found understanding all the buttons on the mixing desk confusing and had a terrible migraine after the first training session! But as my friends and family know (with my Irish background) I like to talk and was comfortable ad-libbing into a microphone…
Do you get nervous when the ON AIR sign lights up?
I do if I am running late and arriving at the studio just before the news comes on! But to be honest, I just love being on air, chatting to patients and staff and playing music to brighten their day. For me, it’s a privilege.
What can listeners expect when they tune into your show?
The A Team is a request show for the patients and staff at The Alexandra Frailty Unit at the hospital thanks to a collaboration with the ward’s matron Kathy Maskens. After the requests, it’s The Whimsical Song Couplets show – two songs at a time coupled by a theme of my choosing. For example, I might use the seasonal theme of autumn to couple Billie Holliday singing Autumn in New York with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
How is Ruddles The Bear? He’s been the station’s mascot since ’79. Any DJ rivalry?
No. Ruddles is a great listener, always there to give advice if you need someone to chat to.
The pandemic must’ve been incredibly challenging; how did it affect the station, you and the other presenters?
In truth we’re still recovering from it. I did my first solo show – a St Patrick’s Day special in March 2020 – just as the management team met to shut down the station; we were off air for a year. Then some of us were set up to present online after a while. So, I’d broadcast from my dining room and give regular updates on my then vain attempts to stop the squirrels from stealing the bird food from my garden. We’re yet to return to ward visits which traditionally was the way to meet patients and staff and gather show requests.
Most popular requests?
The Beatles, Elvis, Nat King Cole but also country music, songs from shows and classical music. Staff requests can be more recent such as Rihanna or songs from where they are from such as Portugal and China.
What music do you listen to in your own time?
I have a broad taste, from punk to funk to classical and ballads, but becoming a presenter has introduced me to new music such as Ólafur Arnalds and Lana del Ray.
Best part of doing what you do at EHR?
Without a doubt, working amongst such a deserving community of patients and staff at Epsom Hospital.
What else do you do when you’re not on EHR?
I run a blog site thehubcast.co.uk with a broad range of blogs, podcasts and playlists.
To volunteer, plus ways to help support Epsom Hospital Radio, go to epsomhospitalradio.org.uk