Adrian Tongue, one of Radio DGH's
Co-Founders, looks back on Radio DGH's history...
If I'd known we would still be
here nearly 40 years on, I would have noted dates at "the
time. However, we do have facts ... so with my ageing memory...
Radio DGH was born in the spring of 1976. Myself and a friend,
Philip Bull, were introduced to a hospital electrician Colin Johnson,
now Colin Schiraldi, who had, for a time been helping The Friends
of Eastbourne Hospitals present a weekly, mostly record request
programme. This had been in existence since 1951 in the old St
Mary's and Princess Alice Hospitals. So in fact, hospital radio
has now been broadcasting in Eastbourne for the last 60 years.
By the mid 1970s, they were presenting their show from a dedicated
room next to the phone exchange at the newly completed District
General Hospital, which incidentally, was not officially opened
by Princess Alexandra until 1977.
Even in this shining new hospital the radio equipment was very
basic: two record decks, a 3-channel mixer and a single microphone.
Colin introduced us to various members of 'The Friends' including
a stalwart weekly presenter, Muriel Marshall - Martin, who with
others after some discussion allowed Colin, Philip and myself
to add at first one then slowly more extra programmes to the schedule,
to produce a more comprehensive and musically varied service.
Although at first somewhat unsure of us, 'The Friends' soon realised
we were serious about providing a good regularised Hospital Radio
service and they set about not only encouraging us but helping
us with some funds for expenses etc.
The word was now getting around that a Hospital Radio service
was underway and with other friends and applicants from almost
nowhere, we had enough people to form our own committee. This
would have been around the autumn of 1976. I believe we had already
used the name Radio DGH but in committee we took a vote and adopted
the name officially. In forming the committee we were immediately
affiliated to 'The Friends' to both allow them to retain some
influence and to know that their hard-earned funds, when any were
directed our way, would be used wisely. Over about three and a
half years, we expanded both in numbers and service and we started
to raise our own funds which included at least a couple of 'bed
pushes' round Eastbourne, dances at the Princess Alice social
club and various other events.
We realised we urgently needed to expand our broadcasting facilities.
So we embarked on a major fundraising exercise to provide money
for a properly equipped and soundproofed studio. This process
led not only to 'The Friends' but Lions Club ' at least one Rotary
Club and various others, including even the WRVS, helping us to
amass around £10,000 for our project, which came to fruition
around the summer of 1980.
I haven't yet mentioned many of the early presenters who worked
with us before and after the new studio became a reality. They
included John Royle, Chris Wood, Martin Just-Fletcher, Stuart
Woodford, Nigel Briggs, Sue White, Andy Wade, Russ Williams, Rob
Eldridge, Brian Peters, Brian Glass, Kay Whitehead, Mark Lee and
for a time the late Harold Perkins, our locally well known resident
poet. If I have missed any names - please forgive me!'- A number
of our presenters have found fame in broadcasting, especially
Russ Williams (Virgin Radio and ITV Snooker) and a later presenter
Martin Buchanan (MTV and currently Magic FM in London) to name
but two. I must also mention Norman Johnson who not only held
a senior post in the hospital but also became a presenter, particularly
of our religious broadcasting and was for many years our treasurer.
He is especially remembered for programmes he presented with the
late Ian Gow, our M.P. at the time.
Our new studio was officially opened by comedian Ken Goodwin and
once it was in place, we really took off. After much discussion,
it was decided we would remain in our original room next to the
phone exchange, which was fortunately large enough to split into
two studios plus a small 'reception' area - a far its earlier
incarnation as one room, a bench and a couple of turntables!
In this attempt at a synopsis of early Radio DGH I must also give
special mention to two wonderful men, sadly no longer with us.
First, Doug Gruttenden who was a tireless worker and fundraiser
with 'The Friends' and whom I believe was also a staff member
in the Eastbourne Hospitals area. He had enormous enthusiasm for
Radio DGH and became a great enabler of funds for us. Secondly,
the late Norman Meadows, so well known in the town for his appearances
at the pier and a real 'showbiz legend'! Norman visited us on
a number of occasions and was instrumental in helping us and others
Finally, I must pay tribute to the Hospital Management team who
have always supported us and our work, which is recognised through
survey and practice as being of therapeutic value as well as great
fun! Without such important support from so many Radio DGH could
not and cannot exist.
Radio DGH was completely rebuilt at a cost of almost £30,000
in 1999. After much deliberation
the contract was awarded to Alice Soundtech of Lingfield and for
most of the summer, the old studios were ripped out, with the
complex refurbished and new equipment installed to allow Radio
DGH to broadcast in full stereophonic audio, to the (then brand
new) Patientline units in the hospital.
This was made possible by a grant of £12,000 from the National
Lottery, a donation from the Friends’ of Eastbourne Hospitals
and much fundraising by our volunteers.
The two studios have Soundtech Series A mixers and CD Players
and, as of around 2005, now have the P Squared “Myriad”
Playout system, which allows music and news to be broadcast automatically
or live, 24/7.
Sky News Radio provide the news via satellite and the studios
now have an ADSL line, to allow broadband to be used for news
gathering and research.
(Adapted from an article
written by Adrian in around 2001)