History of CHBN
In addition to broadcasting a Community Radio service to Truro and the surrounding areas, CHBN is Cornwall's only Hospital Radio service, providing valued entertainment and light-relief to those listening in the Royal Cornwall, West Cornwall & St Michael's Hospitals.
The Hospital Radio service in its current form has been in existence since 1980 and below you can read about the station's history.
Although the Charity, Truro Hospital Radio, was formed back in July 1980, prior to that patients were already being entertained by the Patients' Record Request Programme which began in 1966.
In those days Anne Pound, the Matron's PA, together with her father, used to run the Record Request Programme out of Matron's office, situated in the City Hospital (now the Truro Health Park). People used to deliver their requests to the office on slips of paper and Anne and her father would play the chosen music on an old-fashioned record player, linked to speakers in each of the wards.
Despite Anne's frantic hand-signals indicating at what point her father should lower the needle onto the record, he made frequent mistakes. Apparently, when they had finished the show, they would go for a pint and analyse all the blunders the poor man had made!
The Charity is Formed
It was the Lions Club of Truro which made possible the establishment of the Charity, Truro Hospital Radio, in the form we know it today. John Rogers, Charter President of the Lions at the time, was a radio ham, so the hospital radio station was a project close to his heart.
Not only did the Lions Club provide financial help to purchase some of the original equipment, but as many as thirty of its early members dedicated their time to the running of the station, operating out of a room, which wasn't much bigger than a cupboard, situated in the hospital's Tower Block.
A friend of John Rogers, Alan Pope, was there night after night, visiting patients and playing their requests and John Moyes, a member with technical leanings, used to service the headphones in all the wards, taking them away, repairing them, and returning them the following day.
There were also a few smaller charities helping during those years but, appropriately, it was the Lions Club of Truro that undertook the lion's share of the work!
A State-of-the-Art Studio
The station's studios have always operated from various locations at the Treliske site but, until its closure, they also served patients at the original City Hospital.
For ten years, after the tiny Tower Block studio had been abandoned, broadcasters took over a room in the hospital staff's residential buildings (see picture). In the early day's presenters were, almost exclusively, using vinyl, and the three or four CD's available in the studio were considered somewhat precious items!
Finally, in 2006, once again with financial help from the Truro Lions Club, a new state-of-the-art studio with access for the disabled, was created in the basement of the Tower Block, bringing the organisation back to the heart of the hospital, and presenters closer to their hospital listeners.
Since then a desire to include more information and support on health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics in programmes and an increase in volunteers added pressure on the single studio in operation. In 2009, the station was allocated additional space to house a disabled-accessible training and production studio in space adjoining its existing facility.
Following significant effort fundraising to cover the cost of the structural and building works and thanks to the generous support of many local organisations and individuals, Studio 2 was completed in October 2013.
A Unique Membership
Over the years the service has seen hundreds of members volunteer with the station. The fact that these volunteers are of all ages, come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and bring so many different experiences and skills to the station, results in a vibrant ever-changing membership.
Many broadcasters who are now household names started their careers with Truro Hospital Radio: Justin Leigh and David George (BBC Spotlight); David White (BBC Radio Cornwall); James Martin (Pirate FM); James Dundon (Heart Cornwall); Helen Blaby (BBC Radio Northampton) and Tim Wedgwood (BBC Radio Stoke), to name but a few.
Technology Takes Over
Inevitably technology has had a major impact on the station in recent years. In 2002 the station started broadcasting 24 hours a day with the help of a computerised sustaining service used when presenters were not in the studio. The computer system also rendered most commonly-played songs available at the click of a mouse.
However, a record player is still used at the station, and presenters often find themselves searching through the extensive vinyl library in search of a request.
Extending to West Cornwall and St Michael's Hospitals
At one time West Cornwall Hospital, Penzance and St Michael's Hospital, Hayle both boasted their own broadcasting services. However, these had long closed when, in Autumn 2008, Truro Hospital Radio, stepped into the breach, extending its broadcasting to those hospitals via the NHS IT Network.
Patients in other parts of the county could once again enjoy the opportunity of submitting requests for their favourite songs and, to reflect this wider listener-base, the station name was changed to CHBN.
Extending Beyond The Hospital
In 2009 the team considered that there would be benefit to those outside the hospital being able to receive a similar style of service to that already provided to the hospital patients. It was felt that health, lifestyle and wellbeing information is relevant to everyone regardless of whether they are an in-patient.
In the summer of 2009, the organisation undertook a trial broadcast to those in the community of Truro where the station provided a service with strong emphasis on health and wellbeing, achieved by working closely with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and numerous other organisations and services within the community.
Following submission of an application for a full-time licence, in May 2012 CHBN was awarded a Community Radio licence by Ofcom, allowing it to broadcast on FM to Truro and the surrounding areas.
CHBN launched its service to the wider community on Monday 14th April 2014 at 10:08am. The station was also available online from the same date.
An Outstanding Contribution
It is fair to say that through the three decades of the station's existence, there have been some challenging times and in the early 2000's the charity was suffering from in-fighting, a loss in focus towards the patient and financial difficulties.
At this time Elizabeth Sanders stepped in and subsequently became Station Manager. Upon joining Elizabeth worked tirelessly to build the organisation back up on operational and financial levels. Elizabeth developed a stronger relationship with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and organisations within the local community, ensuring that the patient was at the heart of the organisation's activities.
Not content with the organisation standing still, Elizabeth provided the inspiration, energy and drive to secure and fund the construction and equipping of Studio 1, the establishment of the computerised playout system, extension to West Cornwall and St Michael's Hospitals and the vision of extending the service to the local community.
Sadly, Elizabeth died suddenly in June 2009. It is fair to say that Elizabeth's unfaltering commitment, enthusiasm and determination the organisation would no longer be operating. Today Mark (Elizabeth's son) and the rest of the team are absolutely committed to continuing and developing the valued work of the organisation in a way that she would have intended.
At the station's Annual General Meeting in 2011 it was unanimously agreed that the studio complex should be named the Elizabeth Sanders Studios in small recognition of the crucial part she played in the organisation's history.
Thank You One and All
The committed team at CHBN have many big plans for the continued development of the station and its services.
From those simple beginnings with Anne Pound and her father playing their old gramophone in Matron's office, through to the sophisticated studio used by presenters today, CHBN is proud that the core values of the service and its volunteers have remained the same: to provide the best entertainment possible to the listeners and hopefully improve the stay of those in hospital.
Heartfelt thanks go out to all those over the years who have dedicated their time and creativity to fulfilling this objective and to the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust for their continued support.