for Winchester, from Winchester, by Winchester
Winchester Radio is a charity entirely run by a dedicated team of volunteers, giving their time and skills for free. We have a diverse team of volunteers, ranging in age from 18 to 81. We have been providing entertainment to patients at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital since 1984, and in March 2019 extended our service to those living in Winchester and the immediately surrounding villages, broadcasting on 94.7FM, online at www.winchester.radio, and via the UK Radioplayer app.
By providing our listeners both within the hospital, and now the wider community, with a hyper-local radio service with a variety of music, quizzes, news and features, specifically aimed at those aged 50 and over, we aim to tell people about all the great activities going on in Winchester they can participate in, discuss issues that matter to them, and signpost them to sources of support should they need it. We provide a free platform for other local charities, groups and clubs to promote their activities, fundraising events and volunteering opportunities. Our truly local grassroots radio service for the older generation supports them in their physical, mental and social health and wellbeing, helping to reduce loneliness and isolation, and offering something very different to what can be heard on commercial radio stations which tend to target their output at younger audiences.
It is recognised that the ageing population is growing generally, not just in Winchester. In shifting the emphasis away from just those in hospital, to the wider older population in the city, we hope to promote positive ageing, help people remain active, and and keep them engaged with their local community. By doing this, we are helping to prevent or slow down some of the issues that lead to social isolation, loneliness and hospitalisation, thus improving the quality of life for our listeners, whilst also reducing the burden on local health and care providers.
We're already getting some great feedback from listeners saying how much they like our distinctive service - radio for Winchester, from Winchester, by Winchester. People regularly tell us how much they like the localness of Winchester Radio. A number have said that they had switched from larger regional stations because they liked the warm, family feel of our service. And those with family members in hospital like that they can make and listen to dedications for their loved ones on the wards, sharing a special moment, particularly if they live in other parts of the country.
Since 2011, we've been based in just under 25 sq. metres of converted corridor at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, into which we have squeezed our main broadcast studio, our technical equipment, and our music library/office. Whilst this served us reasonably well as a hospital radio station, with the introduction of our community radio service, and a much larger team of volunteers producing significantly more programming, we've literally run out of space.
Our main studio is too small and is not accessible
As a community radio station, a key aspect of our service is engaging with the community. Unfortunately, our studio is so small that we have room for only one guest at a time, severely limiting our ability to get local groups, clubs, bands and the like in our programming, as we have to arrange to record elsewhere.
Below is our volunteer Steve Randall practising in the studio just prior to the launch of our community radio service in March. The extra microphone is for the guest, for whom there's just room to his left.
It's also too small for our physically disabled volunteers to get their wheelchairs/walking aids in - made worse by the relatively-narrow domestic double-glazing door and frame, complete with a lip in the floor.
Our second studio is in the office!
To provide more studio production and training space, we've installed a second set of studio equipment in the office, which is now in regular use not only for production and training, but also by our volunteers prerecording programmes. The office space is far from sound-proof - having only a single standard door between it and a busy hospital corridor. When it is in use for programme production, it also means that the office cannot be used for audio editing, music library work, or the usual admin tasks.
In the picture below, in the main studio, partially hidden by the door frame is Josh, whilst outside in the office, Amber is preparing her programme using the second set of studio equipment, whilst Jeremy has just returned from visiting patients on the hospital wards and is about to start finding their music requests using one of the office laptops. Josh uses a walker which won't fit in the studio, so he's left it in front of the music library in the office.
And when our Chief Engineer, Paul, needs to work on the electronics that keep us on air, the office has to transform into an engineering workshop!
And we don't even have a sink to wash our coffee cups
Like many voluntary organisations, along with blood, sweat and tears, Winchester Radio survives on copious amounts of tea and coffee! Unfortunately, we don't have running water, so have to fill bottles of water from down the corridor and make do with disposable cups. Our refreshment area is visible in the background of the photo above.
We have the space - we just need the money to fit it out
We're fortunate to have been offered 100 sq. metres of new space by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust on a 10-year lease for a peppercorn rent. This space will enable us to have two fit-for-purpose broadcast studios, a technical equipment room, a meeting & training room that will double as a talk studio, an office/music library. a kitchen, and a loo - and everywhere fully accessible to our disabled volunteers!
The bad news is that, because the area allocated to us has not previously been fitted-out, we've got to start from a bare shell - installing walls, electrical, water, waste, ventilation and heating services, as well as fitting-out to suit our needs. The total cost is approximately £100,000, but with our existing reserves and pledges of support, we already have 50%, so we just need £50,000 to allow us to get the builder in!
£100,000 is an awful lot of money to spend on setting-up a radio studio, but we've been offered the accommodation rent-free for 10 years, and the cost of commercially-renting suitable similar-sized accommodation in Winchester for the same period is significantly higher. Spending this money now ensures we have a studio base for at least the next 10 years .
Please help us to build the studios we need to give Winchester the radio station it deserves! Winchester Radio - for Winchester, from Winchester, by Winchester.