Tuning into patients’ needs

Lee Colyer

HOSPITAL Radio Tunbridge Wells [HRTW] is looking for new presenters to help provide a bespoke bedside service for patients at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and the Cottage Hospital in Tonbridge.

Four of their newest recruits – Phil Kidby, Ben Parry, Pete Allsop and Richard Salvidge – share their thoughts on what it’s like to be a DJ for HRTW. What they all say is that the main reason for being a presenter is not the buzz of being on air, but providing a friendly voice for the patients and the team spirit you get from volunteering.


Last Christmas, the station took up the challenge of providing a 100-hour live radio marathon to raise funds for the charity, which is more than 60 years old but was facing serious financial hardship because of costs.

The Save Our Service campaign helped to alleviate the burden of paying rent and rates after the service had to move from the Kent and Sussex Hospital.

Unanimously, the newly fledged presenters agreed that their best moments came during the marathon broadcast from December 28 into the New Year, which they all took part in.

With the support of Sir Cliff Richard and the band Right Said Fred, along with local acts, fundraising over the past year has reached more than £9,000, which helps keep the station going.

Local businesses have also lent ongoing support, and the campaign continues via social media as #HRTWSOS [Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells Save Our Service] and through online fundraising platform My Donate.

Volunteers have been raising money by running a marathon, organising a darts tournament, arranging quiz nights and applying for supermarket community funding.

So, what made them all want to become presenters on HRTW? Phil wanted to get involved in fundraising, fell in love with presenting, and has always loved the variety of chat and music on radio.

Ben caught thebug with school discos and a love of fundraising – his taste spans from country to classical and dance. Pete saw the last appeal for presenters as a much-awaited opening to channel his 80s music passion, having improvised at home, aged six,
with a cassette player and voice recorder.

And Richard was inspired by DJs from Radio 1 and 2 and has an eclectic taste in music which ranges from rock and heavy metal through to classical and ska. He loves the fact that charity radio is not auto-tuned, and he’s also a passionate presenter for mobile discos and community radio.

“There are multiple reasons to love live presenting,” reveals Richard. “I get pleasure from knowing the patients are listening and can interact with the show. I have a live show from 6-8pm everyTuesday called Magic Moments, featuring songs that remind people of those special moments. In my day job I deal with travel agency customers, so it’s great to extend that interaction to our listeners, too.” Ben adds: “Sharing a love of music and the show with the patients is key. My live shows – on every Thursday from 10.30am-1pm and every Friday night from 8-10pm – are a mix of topical discussion and interviews with local people.

“It’s all about entertainment at the bedside for the patients, and the 100-hour live marathon topped the best moments – I think I presented for about ten hours on and off!

Pete, whose show is on every Monday from 8-10pm, agrees that the 100-hour live broadcast was a highlight of his time so far at the station. “You can just imagine the kick of knowing that Right Said Fred had agreed to do a quick call-in to support our campaign – what a moment!”

Like the others, doing the 100-hour live broadcast for charity was a highlight for Phil, too.
“The longest and maddest show I have done so far was during the marathon 100-hour live broadcast – an overnighter from 2-8am.”I started to flag at about 5am, having Skyped in someone from Bangkok for the show!”


Tips on how to become a presenter

  • Go for it, have a laugh and don’t be shy
  • Practice, practice, practice: HRTW will train you, so you don’t need previous experience
  • Be organised: Presenters arrive about an hour before their show to prepare
  • Timing is everything: You are at the helm of your show with a station manager in the wings
  • Remember you’re giving something as well as getting something out of it.
  • It can be a great launch platform, too.

Visit the website www.hrtw.org.uk to see the HRTW hall of fame featuring around 50 past and present presenters.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter