After COVID-19 and its consequences on how hospitals now operate, it was apparent that Hospital Radio Perth had to change to meet modern expectations and comply with the new restrictions.
Visiting patients to collect requests and playing them on the same day was a challenge too difficult to overcome.
Broadcasting to the bedside via hospital equipment that stemmed from the 1960s, in many cases had ceased to work properly with no prospect of obtaining spare parts was becoming pointless.
We had to look at new ways to operate and that had to come with the approval of our (35 or so) members – without whom there would be no organisation.
After a period of consultation and several Zoom meetings, it became apparent that the members in general and the organisation’s committee had very similar ideas.
There were several key issues that they agreed on:
- The radio station had to be easily accessible via the internet;
- It had to appeal to more than just hospital in-patients;
- The station should endeavour to broadcast focussed request programmes to care homes;
- It should be better integrated into the work of NHS Tayside and health and wellness in general;
- It should have a community focus;
- We should continue our commentary of St Johnstone’s home games for the blind and partially sighted;
- Hospital Radio Perth should be relaunched with a new working name that doesn’t imply that it was for hospital patients only.
And so began months of discussion around names, imaging, branding, programming and the amount of health information to be broadcast.
Throughout this exercise, we wanted to ensure that NHS Tayside, our financial sponsors, our listeners and our members were on board.
To be honest we were surprised at the level of support we encountered for the proposed changes: while it would be wrong to say it was a solid 100%, it was well over 95%.
At last, with the new name – CareSound Radio – locked in, and logos and branding chosen, we were ready to announce our relaunch weekend: 23 and 24 September.
On the one hand, you might expect such a change to be relatively simple: but imagine the hundreds of sound items from the last 35 years that were branded “Hospital Radio Perth” that needed to be amended.
Almost every jingle, programme promo and sponsor message had to be re-recorded – nearly 350 for request shows alone!
In that, we were helped massively by the members of the Perth Amateur Operatic Society.
With a new programme schedule required and the website to be replaced, for 3 months before the relaunch John Watson and Corrado Mella were each investing from 40 to 60 hours a week into making these changes – and to a great extent they are still putting in many hours each week as the “new” station develops.
We started offering over 30 care homes the opportunity to send us their residents’ requests over the web for regular programmes.
That has proved to be a massive success with over 3,300 requests in the first year alone, well on target to hit over 5,000 this year.
Fundraising and help from grant awarding bodies allowed us to keep our service as modern as possible with new software and IT solutions, and sensible use of printed stickers and posters ensured that our listenership in the hospital and elsewhere climbed well above levels we had ever achieved in the past.
New shows were added to long-running programmes to expand the already eclectic mix of styles, the usual roster of well-kent voices was joined by new presenters and returning former members, and we began to hear of people and entire offices who listened to us throughout the day, every day.
After a successful outing to support this year’s Walk for Parkinsons at Scone Palace, our relaunch year was concluded appropriately when Saturday Playlist presenter and Tuesday Requests co-presenter Georgie Williams was awarded the Scottish Health Awards Scottish Volunteer Of The Year at a glittering ceremony in Edinburgh. A fine reward for someone who puts her heart and soul and many, many hours into everything she takes part in.
So, 2023 has been a busy year – and a very satisfying one. However, there is still much to do and more to improve; we look forward to reaching further milestones in 2024.
Hopefully, it will be a good year for you too. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel inspired to join us.
Happy New Year, best wishes to you and your loved ones from everyone at CareSound Radio.