The League of Friends of University Hospital Southampton

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HBA Hospital Radio

It is doubtful if you recognise the letter combination of SHBA but the name Hospital Radio might be familiar to you. Southampton Hospital Broadcasting Association began under the wing of Toc. H (an organisation founded by The Reverend ‘Tubby’ Clayton for the rehabilitation of war-injured servicemen brought back to the UK).

SHBA began with a "borrowed" microphone on October 18th 1952 enabling us to relay a live football commentary from the Dell and we have been present at every home match since then - and now at the magnificent St. Mary’s in the old Chapel area of the City near where Saints started in the late 1880s.

Our music output started in the garden shed of our first Chief Engineer, Geoff Allcock, who was also a radio ham, but he was keen to establish a regular and nightly service to hospital patients, so he cleared out his garden tools and in there we recorded our request programmes. The programmes, captured on open reel tapes were taken down to Rediffusion, a local cable company, who played them out over their network . . . conveniently their cables passed by the local hospitals. This was in the ’50s - so we’ve been around a bit & boast being Southampton’s oldest radio station.

Going live was the great challenge. Underneath a youth hostel in the Bassett area of the city we burrowed down and created one studio and control area and a record library consisting then, only of shellac 78s. It was spartan to say the least. Members had to use the toilets upstairs in the hostel and a large old cider jar was filled with water from their kitchen and that had to last us the night. In such circumstances our nightly service started. Geoff Allcock had built a modest sound mixer, but through it, all manner of programmes were created – not just request programmes, but programmes for children, jazz and folk enthusiasts, specialist programmes for Mums. A local newsagent would come in to review the papers and recommend magazines shortly to arrive on the hospital trolleys – it was there Southampton HBA’s true nature and character were carved.

We still do much the same but with more up-to-date equipment where we welcome all manner of people to our volunteers, who number over 100. They come from all strands of life; Teachers, office workers, shop personnel, electricians, accountants, solicitors, computer boffins, housewives, and retired enthusiasts. We even had a lighthouse keeper once, as well as a snake charmer and a fire eater!

Whatever their background they all combine to enjoy the ability to broadcast in their own strand – be it music, or sport coverage or just technical operations or library cataloguing. It all centres on providing a service for patients who are separated from their families due to ill health or accident of circumstance.

The starting contact of our service is to attend the bedside to simply ask a patient if they would like a song or tune to cheer them up. From there we begin the basis of our activity. For some, our presence may be the first visitor they have had all day. Others may not be feeling up to it so we must expect rejection when we arrive. With the convenience of telephone and other technology we can link anyone with anyone – vital if you are isolated in a strange place.

You can telephone a request for any patient from anywhere.

We broadcast an edition of Requestline every night at 8.30: Call [023] 8078 5151 [24 hour answering facility]
or send an email request to: request@sohba.org

When in hospital hear us on Hospedia - Channel One.

Visit our website:

League of Friends - Charity No. 249466

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