DJ Anastasia Aboim on why she loves to spin discs for Whipps Cross Hospital Radio
Six years ago I was at university and intent on finding my calling in life through picking up hobbies. One of these, in between cheap drinks at student bars and long nights in the library, was spinning discs at Whipps Cross Hospital Radio. Being interested in the media, I wanted to get experience and expand my CV. The hobby stuck.
When I started out as a volunteer DJ there was plenty of room to make mistakes, hone your radio voice and get ideas for your own programmes, as I watched more experienced people do their thing.
I am part of the Wednesday team and share presenting duties with my colleague Ann Ling for Whipps Cross Focus at 8pm. Ann and I, as well as John Goddard and John Doyle, put together this one-hour magazine programme which mixes music with news.
Our show is a great way for listeners to digest the week’s headlines. Our team pulls together the stories we’ve heard, the songs we want to hear and topics we want share.
Being part of the show and listening to other programmes, you realise hospital radio is refreshing and informing because it’s not bound by commercial rules, nor compelled to blast the UK top ten in your ears 24/7. Each show is as different as its presenter, making the station a great way of finding out about events around the hospital and in Waltham Forest.
Going round the wards is where you get to know the listeners. It’s always satisfying to get a ‘thank you’ from patients. Whether they’re having a chat on-air or just picking a song they’d like to hear, you sense the gratitude and feel happy you’ve given them a moment to forget where they are.
When arriving a lot of patients aren’t aware they can access Whipps Cross Radio, but it’s an easy way to have some company and keep in touch with life outside, especially if you didn’t grab your gadgets before getting here.
Walthamstow Lions Club started the station in 1969, when they used homemade equipment and no studio. Funded by the club, six volunteers broadcast for just three hours on Sunday evenings.
Although there has been fear of closure for over 40 years – at the station as well as the hospital itself – Whipps Cross Hospital Radio keeps growing. By 2002 a lottery grant allowed broadcasting all day and night. Two years later the hospital’s TV, radio and telephone service was introduced to patients’ bedsides in many wards meaning more people were able to access the station. But we need to do more.
There are currently 43 volunteers who present programmes, interview guests, take part in fundraisers, and cover live local football. Whipps Cross won gold in 2015 at the National Hospital Radio Awards for its promotion, and you can now take us out of the wards and listen online via TuneIn.
Whipps Cross Hospital Radio is looking for a volunteer technical engineer: