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Volunteer-run Inverness Hospital Radio to reach beyond traditional audience with launch of online broadcasting


By Val Sweeney

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Donnie Aird was the co-founder of Inverness Hospital Radio 51 years ago.
Donnie Aird was the co-founder of Inverness Hospital Radio 51 years ago.

Inverness Hospital Radio is preparing to mark a milestone in its history after the coronavirus pandemic curtailed 50th anniversary celebrations last year.

It will launch online broadcasting on November 2 – the day it celebrates 51 years of providing a vital service for hospital patients.

The launch day will see a full day of live broadcasting from its purpose-built studios at Raigmore Hospital.

It will also mark the start of what the station promises will be an exciting, packed schedule, including a new dedicated request hour and more live and in-house programming.

It is a far cry from its humble beginnings for the voluntary-run organisation which first went on air with a pre-recorded programme on a cassette machine which was relayed over the chaplain’s broadcasting system.

Honorary life president Donnie Aird was a founder member with the late Alistair Gardner, a part-time broadcaster and contributor for the BBC.

Donnie Aird and Alistair Gardner (right).
Donnie Aird and Alistair Gardner (right).

"The concept was to provide patients in the then five hospitals in the Inverness area with entertainment, and more importantly a link with relatives and friends who could submit requests and greetings to be relayed to them by the service," Mr Aird said.

"At that time, patients spent longer stays in hospital and in many cases far from their homes.

"Little did Alistair and I know 50-plus years ago that what we started would lead to the success of the service today, and I am sure it will go on providing pleasure and information into the future, thanks to a very dedicated and, in most cases, a long-serving team of members."

Donnie Aird in the early days of Inverness Hospital Radio.
Donnie Aird in the early days of Inverness Hospital Radio.

It will continue to be available directly to patients at Raigmore via the Hospedia system for free alongside the new online broadcast.

Anyone will be able to listen via www.invernesshospitalradio.co.uk and also on Smart Speakers and by using the Tune In platform.

It can also reach beyond its traditional listenership to other healthcare facilities or those recovering at home, and will promote health and wellbeing with partner agencies to potentially prevent listeners entering the healthcare system.

Thomas Nelson, chairman of Inverness Hospital Radio, said: "We hope to be able to reach out to anyone in an NHS Highland facility and provide entertainment to benefit their wellbeing and assist their recovery, but also reach further to promote positive health messaging along with our partners.

"The online broadcast will enable friends and relatives of patients to share an experience together when they may not be able to be physically together."

Half a century of hospital radio celebrated


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