In the beginning
Engineering at OHBA (Oxford Hospitals Broadcasting Association) began under the leadership of Dave Weaver and his colleagues at the Post Office Telephones as it was - now of course, British Telecom.
Over the last 35 years, Radio Cherwell has been developed by a team of enthusiastic engineers from different backgrounds and ages.
The three buildings Radio Cherwell has inhabited in its history have all been on the Churchill hospital site. The first studio was housed in a converted latrine, on which now stands the Renal Transplant Unit, the second was a Portakabin and our current home was part of the old Blood Transfusion Unit. The building pre-dates this as it was part of the original American Army Hospital, from which the Churchill hospital started.
The original studio equipment was either built by the engineering team, or loaned. Many hourshave been spent over the years, building equipment to meet the one off requirements of a hospital broadcasting station or to provide equipment that was beyond the resources of the organisation to purchase.
Today the station has two studios, a talk studio, record library, workshop, plus a kitchen and lounge.
The two studios are equipped with Soundcraft SAC200 broadcast desks, a computerised jingle system, developed by a member of our engineering team, Michael Clarke, plus all the other ancillary equipment you would normally expect to find in a modern broadcast studio. At the Chapel of All Saints in the John Radcliffe hospital, we have a small broadcast mixer that enables us to relay the Morning Service every Sunday, plus special services at Christmas and Easter.
Our portable, outside broadcast units are used to broadcast live shows from the hospital wards each week.
All these programme sources are controlled by a computer system which puts the right source on the 'air' at the right time, but also automatically records selected programmes for re-broadcast the following morning. This ensures patients do not miss their record requests and also gives them the opportunity to hear how they performed in our ward based programmes.
Radio Cherwell transmits its programmes from the studio to the patients in the hospital wards by using British Telecom land lines. Within each hospital the lines are connected to audio amplifiers that supply the sound to the headsets at each bed and to the loudspeakers in the day rooms. The programmes can only be heard this way and not on a transistor radio. The headphones within the hospital deliver not only Radio Cherwell programmes but other radio stations and television sound.
Radio Cherwell can be heard on the PatientLine system in the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals. In order to start using the PatientLine system, all you have to do is lift the telephone handset and press the green button labelled 'operator'. The operator will take your details and you will then be ready to start listening to the radio. Press the orange button labelled 'radio' and use the CH + or - buttons to select the Radio Cherwell channel.
Radio Cherwell can be reached for free by dialling *800 on your PatientLine telephone handset.
In addition to being able to listen to Radio Cherwell, PatientLine also provides free access to five further radio stations and pay-as-you-go access to over fifteen television channels. The operator will issue you with a personal extension number and you will be able to make and receive telephone calls. Pay-as-you-go television viewing is charged at �1.60 per hour. After paying for two hours during a given day, the rest of the day is free. Also, one hour of television viewing is provided for free every day. Making both local and national telephone calls costs 10p per minute, which is the cheapest of any payphone in the hospital. Finally, internet access is available for 4p per minute.
PatientLine services are paid for using Freedom cards. These are available from vending machines near the ward entrance for �3.50, �5.00 or �10.00, depending on the amount of credit you wish to buy. Credit can be added using a credit or debit card by calling the PatientLine operator. (PLEASE NOTE: Prices are correct at time of going to press. For further information, look for a PatientLine leaflet or ask the PatientLine operator.)
The engineering team are also involved in bringing the sounds of local musicians to the ears of the hospital patients, either by broadcasting the concerts live or recording them for later transmission. CDs of the concerts are also sold to bring in some extra revenue, so if you are involved in a concert and would like it recorded please ring Richard Simmons at Radio Cherwell - Oxford 225522, or E-mail him at: email@example.com
Radio Cherwell has a fully equipped Public Address trailer that is taken to events in the area. The service comes complete with engineering and broadcasting staff to provide a tailor-made service to meet the needs of each event. Please ring Neil Stockton for further information - Oxford 225522, or E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you an engineer?
We are always keen to have new faces on the team, so if you would like to offer your skills or perhaps you would like to learn some new ones, we will be pleased to hear from you.
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