There’s an extra buzz around the studios of Hinckley’s Castle Mead Radio (CMR) this week as the country’s smallest hospital radio station goes global.
To celebrate the station’s 21st birthday and the 85th anniversary of Hospital Radio in the UK, a special radio station has been set up adjacent to CMR’s two modern broadcast studios.
But this one isn’t playing record requests for the patients and staff. OFCOM, the radio and broadcasting regulator has given them a special amateur radio licence – callsign GB0CMR (GB zero CMR) – so that news about CMR and Hinckley hospitals can be beamed around the world.
The idea came from Castle Mead Radio Trustee and BBC broadcaster Jim Lee. Jim, who has held an amateur (or ham) radio licence himself for 40 years, credits hospital radio with kick starting his career which has taken him from Mercia Sound in Coventry to his present announcer and newsreader roles at Radio 4, and the BBC World Service.
“When I heard that special event stations were being planned to mark the 85th anniversary of Hospital Radio, I got together with CMR presenter and fellow licensed radio amateur Jerry Davis to see if we could set something up at the Mount Road studios”, said Jim who doesn’t broadcast on CMR himself but acts as a trustee and trains young broadcasters at the station.
“We knew a two week event would be too much for the pair of us, so we approached John Rogers of the Hinckley Amateur Radio and Electronics Society which meets around the corner from the hospital at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club, to see if they’d be interested in coming on board. John’s enthusiasm and that of the members has meant that we’ve been able to get the whole thing off the ground in a very short space of time”.
For John Rogers who has the call sign M0JAV, it’s a chance to give something back. “Both of my parents spent a good deal of time being cared for at the Hinckley Hospital, which meant in turn that I spent a good deal of time there too and CMR’s programmes were a godsend. Operating GB0CMR is providing some of our less experienced members with much needed radio procedure practice,” says John who heads a team at the Hinckley Radio Society which instructs radio enthusiasts preparing to take the necessary exams to gain their own licences.
CMR’s station manager Paul Gardner,has made sure that the amateur radio operators have been made welcome at the studio complex. “It’s not the first time that radio transmissions have come from these studios. Test transmissions in preparation for the old Fosseway Radio came from here in the 90s. But this is completely different. I’m looking forward to seeing how far around the world GB0CMR will reach”, says Paul who was one of the founders of the Hinckley station back in 1990.
The Hinckley radio team’s efforts have been recognised by one of the world’s leading manufacturers of ham radio equipment. Icom UK were so impressed that they have provided GB0CMR with a top of the range transmitter/receiver plus accessories for the event which runs until 3 April.
CMR is up for two awards at the Hospital Broadcasting Association Conference on 26th of March and along with the CMR team, the GB0CMR operators will be keenly awaiting news.