As part of the Bristol Voices series, Chris Wood talks about the role Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service plays in the community, and the role it has played in making patients’ lives better through radio for 65 years.
Name: Chris Wood
Where in Bristol are you based? I live in Downend and work at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) .
Tell us what you’re currently involved in and how you hope it can impact upon Bristol.
I am currently the programme controller for Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service (BHBS) – the hospital radio for Bristol. We help make patients’ lives better through 24-hour radio.
Most of our listeners are either elderly or very sick and the radio creates connections to family and the wider community. We take requests from patients by visiting the wards in the hospital, and broadcast live from football and rugby games, as well as classical concerts at Colston Hall.
We have provided radio to hospital patients since 1952 and at one stage, to over twenty hospitals in the city. Thanks to the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, we are now based on the top floor of the BRI. We have two control rooms, a studio, an equipment room and a green room which also houses our vast record library. We really couldn’t do what we do without the support from the trust.
My personal journey with BHBS started in 1972 when I was still at school. My love for radio began on my 12th birthday when my parents bought me a reel-to-reel tape recorder. And well, the rest is history! I’ve been volunteering here ever since – for 45 years.
What are the current issues and opportunities facing your area of Bristol?
I’m going to take this as an opportunity to talk about the challenges facing the hospital radio. We run purely on a voluntary basis with no paid workers. So, we are always looking for more volunteers – especially engineers as well as budding radio presenters.
We would love to make the next big leap to internet broadcasting, which would allow the radio show to be accessible to all, not just patients in hospital. More importantly, this would mean the radio is accessible to patients when they leave hospital and are back at home. It would be fantastic to create that sense of continuity for our listeners. Naturally this would cost us more, which again is a challenge.
We do try our hand at fundraising with collections at local supermarkets every year, which helps us with low level expenditures. Computers, decks and other radio equipment are much more expensive.
What do you like about Bristol?
I’m Bristol born and bred – I like the city because it’s big but not too big. The harbourside is one of my favourite spots and it’s great that you can get to the countryside quickly.
How could Bristol be better?
Bring back the trams!
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I was born on Christmas day, so I give myself a half birthday on June 25 every year.
Do you have a piece of information or advice that you’d like to share with others?
If you are looking for experience in engineering or radio, please get in touch. We are always looking for volunteers and fundraising ideas.
Bristol24/7 call out: Bristol Voices
We want to hear and share your stories. Are you involved in a project or initiative in Bristol? Are their issues currently impacting on your area? Do you have some advice? Or simply something to share?
If you have a story to tell and want to be featured in Bristol Voices, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more Bristol Voices: Shaun Clarke