Going ga-ga over community radio

The first Radio Horton show with Ted Hanson, seated left, at the controls, with Graham Wilton, seated right, reading the news

The first Radio Horton show with Ted Hanson, seated left, at the controls, with Graham Wilton, seated right, reading the news

First published in News

THIS month Banbury’s hospital radio station Radio Horton celebrated its 50th birthday with a long weekend of touring radio. To mark the occasion, ALEX WYNICK looks at the health of community radio stations in Oxfordshire

ON July 7, 1964, patients at the Horton General Hospital turned on their radios to listen to strains of the Westminster Waltz, followed by the words “Radio Horton Calling”.

Now, 50 years later, Radio Horton is still going strong, providing music, news and interviews for the Banbury hospital’s patients.

It was all started by journalists Ted Hanson, now 76, and the late Graham Wilton.

The current station manager Stewart Green said: “It was something for the patients to do, because there was nothing for them to do in hospital.

“To start with it was just one show a week for an hour, then it grew and grew as patients asked for more.”

He added: “Our aim is still to entertain the patients.

“We go round the wards three times a week to talk to patients, get requests and messages.

“We go to the children’s ward every week and the kids have their own little show at the weekend.

“It’s a way of bringing people together.”

To celebrate its 50th birthday, the station went on a tour across Banbury, catching up with local celebrities and supporters.

Oxford Mail:

Stewart Green

The special guests included Countryfile’s John Craven, X-Factor voice-over star Peter Dickson and Banbury’s MP Sir Tony Baldry.

Mr Green, 56, said: “We went out and about in the community and we had a lot of guests popping in, with celebrity messages.

“It was a massive success.”

Radio Horton took a technical leap when it went online in 2010, broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mr Green, from Banbury, said: “We always felt there was a need for Radio Horton to be broadcast to the wider community.”

In just 10 months more than 20,800 listeners tuned in online.

He added: “This just proves that we are delivering a service people can’t get anywhere else.’’ Earlier this year the station was named as the best organisation at the Banbury Community Awards.

Fifty years after it was founded, this was the first award the station had won.

Mr Green, who has worked at the radio station since 1982, said: “We were very pleased.

“It’s a great recognition for all of the hard work and team effort that we put in.’’

Listeners can tune in online

HOSPITAL RADIO AUDIENCE CHANGES ALL THE TIME

NEIL Stockton is the chairman of Oxfordshire’s other hospital radio station, Radio Cherwell, which broadcasts to the John Radcliffe Hospital and Churchill Hospital.

He has worked at the station for almost 40 years, after getting involved as a teenager when the station was in its infancy.

He said: “People come to this hospital from miles away, all across the South East, and are often away from their loved ones.

“There are some long-term patients who almost feel part of the family because they’re talking to us every day.”

Oxford Mail:

Radio Cherwell presenters and engineers, from left, Angie Young, Neil Stockton, front, Alison Sweatman, John Lant and Colin Ryde at the Churchill Hospital

The Bletchington resident said that hospital radio faces more problems than any other type of radio, adding: “Hospital radio is even more difficult than community radio, because there are 190,000 patients who go through the hospital beds in a year.

“The audience changes all the time. Other stations tend to build up and maintain their following over a period of time, but we’re effectively launching our station every week.”

But Radio Cherwell has more pressing issues to deal with than listener figures — homelessness.

Oxford Mail:

Alice Foreman, Alison Sweatman and John Lant check the old vinyl records

Hospital bosses have told the station it needs to move from the old blood transfusion office to the hospital’s gatehouse by September at the latest.

Mr Stockton, 62, said: “They want to get rid of the old buildings. The gatehouse is very, very much smaller than what we have got, and it needs quite a lot of work to do the soundproofing and restoration.”

The group need to raise about £75,000 for the work. He said: “The pressure is on for us.”

Radio Cherwell

XTRA REASON TO CELEBRATE FIRST BIRTHDAY

WHILE Radio Horton is celebrating its half-century, Abingdon’s community station is about to mark its first.

AbingdonXtra operates out of a log cabin in the back garden of its station manager Mark Holland, from Andersey Way in Abingdon.

He said: “We have been running for almost a year.

“We launched in September 2013.

“It’s predominately an online radio station — available at abingdonxtra.co.uk — and we have shows being broadcast from all over Abingdon.

“We go live from various locations and we have four studios in people’s homes.”

Oxford Mail:

Mark Holland, of Abingdon Xtra

The 40-year-old said the station aims to promote local news and events, adding: “I don’t think local events and issues get enough coverage — it’s more local than other outlets can be.

“There was nothing that was just Abingdon and nobody else.

“We run stories that probably wouldn’t make the press.

“It’s really to promote the town and give people a voice.”

But the first year has not been without a hitch, and Mr Holland admitted: “It has been hard getting sponsorship.”

The station costs about £1,200 a year to run. He said: “We just pay for what we need so we can run and then rely on volunteers.”

LISTENING IN ON RAF AIRWAVES

IT’S not just hospital patients who enjoy tuning into their very own radio – earlier this year RAF Brize Norton became the first Royal Air Force radio station in the UK.

Part of the British Forces Broadcasting Service, BFBS Brize Norton launched in April on bfbs.com/radio/online/brize-norton.html Its senior presenter Jo Thoenes said: “We’re serving everybody in the area who has any connection with the forces.

“We were trying to produce a niche, bespoke service for this part of the world.”

Oxford Mail:

Presenter Jo Thoenes

The Didcot resident added: “It’s quite a challenging demographic, we’re broadcasting to 17-year-old recruits right up to generals in their retirement.

“We do a lot on what’s going on across the base, their work and life inside and outside the wire.’’ Miss Thoenes, 40, said: “We’re more about the community events, we get people into the studio to talk about what’s going on.

“It’s going really, really well.

“Bigger stations have lost that personal touch, and it’s just amazing to give these people who don’t have a platform to talk about what’s going on for them.

“We’ve had great feedback from all sorts of different groups across the base. Every day we have people coming and knocking on our door asking for our help.”

Our top stories:

Update: Pensioner killed in crash with Ford Focus on A4183 near Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

5:32pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

A PENSIONER died last night after a crash in Abingdon.

Oxford-born author PD James dies aged 94

Oxford Mail:

1:46pm Thursday 27th November 2014

PD James, the acclaimed author famous for her series of detective novels, has died aged 94.

Baby was ‘at home with dad when he stopped breathing’

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Thursday 27th November 2014

AN 11-week-old baby whose death police are treating as suspicious has been named as Jayden Saxton.

Woman must return £293K ‘inheritance’

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Thursday 27th November 2014

A FAMILY has been “torn apart” by a High Court battle over the inheritance of a grandmother’s Oxford estate.

What's in our interactive back page today?

Oxford Mail:

12:00pm Thursday 27th November 2014

Have a look around our interactive back page today...

What is in our interactive front page for today

Oxford Mail:

11:10am Thursday 27th November 2014

Here's today's interactive front page for you to explore... what stories will grab your interest?

Man arrested after train manager attacked on Banbury train

Oxford Mail: British Transport police badge

10:44am Thursday 27th November 2014

A TRAIN manager was assaulted and passengers came to his aid on a train to Banbury.

Oxford United buoyed by Roberts news

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Wednesday 26th November 2014

MICKEY Lewis backed James Roberts to come back stronger than ever after Oxford United were boosted by the news the striker’s hamstring injury was not serious.

Missing teenager Tommy Lewis could be in Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage or Grove

Oxford Mail:

4:21pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

A TEENAGER reported missing could be in Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage or Grove.

Faringdon baby who died in suspicious circumstances named as Jayden Saxton

Oxford Mail:

3:45pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

AN 11-week-old baby who died in suspicious circumstances last week has been named as Jayden Saxton.

Overturned lorry delays A420 traffic

Oxford Mail:

11:47am Wednesday 26th November 2014

A LORRY has turned on its side on a roundabout in Kingston Bagpuize, blocking traffic on the A420 and A415.

What's in our interactive front page to explore today?

Oxford Mail:

11:56am Wednesday 26th November 2014

Here's today's interactive front page - with links to all the featured stories but extra stories today...

Oxford train commuters delayed

Oxford Mail: oxford train station inside

9:10am Wednesday 26th November 2014

Trains going from London Paddington to Oxford were delayed yesterday by signalling problems at Ealing Broadway.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree