WHO’S WHO IN HOSPITAL RADIO READING
Some things you didn’t know about our Presenters
ANN BEASLEY is our Friday night classical favourites and upliftimg vocal presenter. Ann has hosted children’s programmes, Record Request shows and country music programmes during her 36 years with HRR and currently keeps a keen eye on our incomings and outgoings as HRR’s hard-working Treasurer. When not on HRR Ann works as an accounts clerk and is a crafty lady – by which I mean she enjoys sewing and baking in her spare time. She and her mum produce cakes, cushions, dolls and all kinds of goodies, many of which find their way onto their stall raising funds for Hospital Radio Reading at hospital events.
DAVID LEADBEATER can be heard on HRR on a Saturday afternoon where is makes up part of the team of sports presenters. David first joined HRR’s Monday evening Record Request crew in the early 90s but his passion for radio started with his earliest musical memory is of listening to Radio Caroline in 1964 and since then Roger Day and Johnnie Walker have been the broadcasters David most admires. He works by day as Sales Director and harbours a secret ambition to do the same type of job for a radio station. In his spare time he listens to Soft Rock and 80s music and he knows everything there is to know about satellite radio and TV.
FIONA McKECHNIE decided to volunteer at the Royal Berkshire Hospital upon her retirement after 38 years as a teacher. She came along to sit in on some of our Wednesday afternoon Requests shows out of curiosity and was hooked! So she now co-hosts that show each week with Gloria Wright. Fiona’s earliest radio memories go right the way back to Listen with Mother in the afternoons before she started school ( remember “Are you sitting comfortably … ? Then I’ll begin!”) In her teens she enjoyed listening to Radio Caroline, the cheeky humour of Round the Horne and Test Match Special. When not on HRR Fiona is busy playing tennis, gardening and helping out at her previous school with sports days and clubs. She also fundraises for a charity called Headway based in Henley.
GERARD ROCKS is currently the chairman of HRR but has been HRR’s Jack of All Trades (and master of none!) since joining the organisation in 1981. He currently presents the weekly comedy compendium “I Suppose You Think That’s Funny” as well as the occasional Saturday lunchtime Record Requests show and (even more sporadically) editions of our “Take Five” interview programme but can also be heard “covering” for many other shows throughout the year! He started in Hospital Radio while at university in Oxford, where he interviewed Cliff Richard, The Goodies, Hinge & Brackett and joined HRR after taking up his day job in Reading as a French teacher in 1981. Gerard speaks fondly of musical memories “This’ll really date me. I can remember listening to the Light Programme –Uncle Mac’s Children’s Favourites on a Saturday morning and Housewives’ Choice (with my mum – honest !!) on weekdays. They were always playing the end of the 1812 Overture and all those bells and canons used to really scare me!” As he gets older Gerard is increasingly bemused by the growing number of patients and visitors he meets on the wards who seem to think he looks like a certain TV personality, pantomime dame and one-time “I’m a Celebrity” winner… Gerard, somewhat of an on screen personality himself has been a contestant in a number of television quizzes, he once managed to leave Anne Robinson almost speechless by serenading her on The Weakest Link, then went on to beat the formidable Mark “The Beast” Labett on The Chase and, in January 2017, he won the top prize on BBC1’s new daytime quiz !mpossible (and promptly donated half of it to HRR!). Now that he is semi-retired, Gerard has been taking a few tentative steps in the world of film and television supporting artistes (or “extras” as they used to be known) and can be seen in “The Crown” on Netflix as a Bishop processing down the aisle in Westminster Abbey alongside Claire Foy.
GLORIA WRIGHT has been a ward visitor and request presenter with HRR since 2011 and after 4 years on the Saturday evening crew Gloria now enjoys presenting HRR Requests on Wednesday afternoons. Gloria is now retired, after an active life which has seen her work and travel widely abroad and, more recently, in court – but as an usher, she hastens to add! Her earliest musical memories are of listening to her parents’ recordings of Mario Lanza and the Great Caruso and she is one of the generation that grew up listening to Two-Way Family Favourites every Sunday lunchtime. Not many people know that, for her 50th Birthday Gloria did a parachute jump in tandem and helped to raise £3,000 for Feed The Children.
GRAEME COLLYER has been sharing his famously bad jokes on Hospital Radio Reading since 1992 (and believes that someone laughed at them – once, in 1995!) and since 1995 he has been part of HRR’s football commentary team, covering Reading FC’s home games with club historian David Downs. He relishes this role as an opportunity to share the unique match experience at the Madejski Stadium with the patients in a light hearted but informative way. Graeme also presents “The Weekend Today” on alternate Sunday afternoons, where he gives listeners the chance to catch up on all the week’s national news, bringing all the stories up to date from the reflective viewpoint of the weekend. When not at HRR Graeme is a Regional Sales Manager, covering Southern England for a gas fire manufacturer. For a brief period he also worked as a freelance sports journalist alongside his regular day job and he is still a keen follower of football, cricket and tennis. A few years ago he took up cycling “in a bid to get fit, whilst enjoying the Berkshire countryside”. He also enjoys politics – “Nothing excites me more than a general election year. Some people will say I am a bit sad, but my favourite TV programme is Question Time”.
HANNAH SMITH came to HRR in June 2017 when she joined the Wednesday evening Requests team. I’d been interested in print journalism for a long time, and having written for various magazines and online publications, I wanted to explore a different area of the media. I thought I’d see what radio broadcasting was all about, and have really enjoyed my experience so far!”. As far as earliest radio / musical memories are concerned Hannah can’t think back to her time at secondary school without thinking of Chris Moyles’ Radio 1 Breakfast Show “which helped get me out of bed on time and put me in a good mood before dashing off to school!”When not on HRR she works as a specialist consultant for a luxury, Japanese travel company, organising travel to Japan for a range of (often very interesting!) high-end clients from around the world. She speaks three foreign languages – French and Italian as well as Japanese – and her ambition is to appear on a radio show in one of those languages to put her language skills to the test!
JAMES BURTON – STEWART is in charge of the HRR Requests team on Tuesday evenings and, When not on HRR, works as a Sales Executive in the motor industry and enjoys listening to “anything and everything”. His earliest musical memories are of listening to the old Light Programme in 1964 and buying Lily the Pink by the Scaffold in ‘68. and he cites Ray Moore, Tom Browne, Noel Edmonds and Terry Wogan among the broadcasters past and present whom he particularly admires. In his spare time he can often be found treading the boards with the Mortimer and Tilehurst Amateur Dramatic Societies and you may even hear him in some of the one-act plays for radio which occasionally feature in HRR’s schedules.
JENNY COLE joined HRR in the Spring of 2014 when she decided she wanted to get involved with some local volunteering and a passion for music led her towards Hospital Radio offering the perfect combination! Jenny can now be heard on the Saturday evening request show. Jenny’s passion for music is fuelled by regularly attending festivals and although Venga Boys was the first record she remembers buying, her earliest musical memories involve listening to Dire Straits in the car with her Dad (you’ll often hear Brothers in Arms at the end of the Wednesday request show!).
JONATHAN BROMLEY joined HRR in late 2014, having previously presented shows on Southport Hospital Radio and Reading University’s own station, Junction 11. He is now a presenter on the Sunday night request show and he says that “I love it when we visit the wards and patients tell me a song that they want me to play, and then promise that they will be singing along. It is what I do in the car every night, and it is what I do in the studio (although I am not sure that my co-presenters enjoy it)”.
JONATHAN BRYAN is definitely an early riser. After several years presenting the Saturday Breakfast show he fancied a change a few years ago – so now he presents a fornightly Sunday Breakfast show instead! He also pops up occasionally in our weekday morning schedules. Jonathan joined HRR at the tender age of 18 (after two years on the waiting list!) and he still remembers “The first patient I asked for a request told me he’d like Pea Soup and Mashed Potatoes. I told him I’d look in our library to see if we had the record – until it dawned on me that the gentleman actually thought I’d asked him what he’d like for lunch!”. When not on HRR : Jonathan has worked professionally for 2-Ten FM, Reading 107 and Radio Berkshire and more recently as an SAP Support Analyst, working for the BG Group (who have been generous in their support of HRR). He spends most of his free time with his two children Callum and Tia.
JONATHAN SAWYER started out as one of HRR’s younger volunteers (joining in April 2010 while studying towards his A-Levels) and Jonathan quickly made his mark at the station. Originally part of the Wednesday evening HRR Requests team – which won a national Hospital Broadcasting Award in 2013 as “Best Programme with Mulitiple Presenters” he moved on to take charge of the Wednesday crew. Jonathan has also proven himself as something of a technical whiz-kid and is often to be found beavering about the studios behind the scenes in his other capacity as HRR’s Studio Manager (which also requires expertise in tracking down the best value washing-up liquid and bin bags!). Jonathan was born and raised in Reading and describes himself as Berkshire through and through. And in fact he’s following in his father’s footsteps as his dad, Wally, volunteered with HRR in the 1970s. Jonathan’s aim is to one day present a show on local radio and says his claim to fame is driving the desk at BBC Radio Berkshire for Lynn Parsons and Debbie McGee, whilst on work experience in 2007. He also fancies himself as a newsreader which he has even managed to do nationwide, as part of a select band of hospital broadcasters when hospital stations throughout the country (and Ireland) join forces to share programming in “The Big Broadcast” on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve.
JULIE HUGHES can be heard on Monday evenings hosting her “Focus” show, looking at a particular artist or group, as well as presenting her favourite hymns and devotional music on Sunday evenings when she regularly shares some inspirational “Words of Life “. For the past few years she has also served on the HRR Committee as our Secretary. Julie cites Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine and Steve Wright as her favourite broadcasters (so I think we can put her down as a Radio 2 fan – Ed) but was also a fan of Noël Edmonds in her – and his! – youth. Her musical tastes are diverse, ranging from Christian Contemporary Rock, to Soul, Rock, and Motown. Favourite bands are U2 and Delirious. First album ever bought: Aladdin Sane, David Bowie; then, Diana and Marvin, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. First 45: Monsieur Dupont by Sandie Shaw! (“but I’m not sure that should be mentioned!”). Not many people know that Julie used to be a biker – she used to ride a Honda 650F Sports CVR for many years, but has recently sold it. …
LOUISE REMENYI (Lou to her friends) has volunteered her services to HRR and joined the team on Saturday Lunchtime Requests (or “Music While You Munch” as we like to call it!) in the autumn of 2011. She spent some time in hospital some years ago, but was tucked away in a side room and never even knew that Hospital Radio existed! When she did find out about it she decided to get involved to make others’ experiences a bit less lonely and boring than hers had been. She particularly enjoys visiting the children’s wards for this show and, in addition to playing their favourite tracks (or nursery rhymes!). She spends as much of her free time as possible playing netball or travelling the world (which she also does a lot of for her job as an international conference organiser). Louise is an all round music lover and her not so guilty pleasure is Taylor Swift!
LEE JACKSON is a Sunday Lunchtime presenter on HRR where he shares his love of American music with the patients in his “American Gold” show. He has been with HRR for 25 years and started even earlier than that, spending his childhood days pretending to present radio shows at home with his record player. Lee particularly admires U.S. presenters Emperor Rosko and the late Casey Kasem for their presentational style and their musical knowledge (Casey Kasem hosted the first ever Chart Countdown on radio and used to crop up on ITV in the middle of the night).
LEO SALE joined Hospital Radio Reading in April 2009 and has been co-hosting the Monday night HRR Requests Show ever since. Leo is half-English and half-Italian and heard about HRR through Chairman Gerard Rocks, who was once his secondary school teacher!! ing there at the time. Leo is a big football fan, supporting Manchester United. He loves all sorts of music ranging from Pop to Hip-Hop/R&B. His favourite singers include Tinie Tempah, Bruno Mars, Adele and Michael Bublé.
MARTIN ROLFE, One of the two Martins on Saturday nights (they joined at roughly the same time and have hardly broadcast apart since!!), Martin Rolfe is the one to blame for the madcap “Saturday Night Experience” show – where amusing stories of the joys and frustations of everyday life in the Rolfe household are a regular feature – but off the microphone he is surprisingly sane. Martin works for a locally-based charity, with responsibility for its IT requirements and database. Over the years Martin has admired Rob Jones (2-Ten FM and Radio Luxembourg), Tony James (Pirate FM in Cornwall and Star FM) , Chris Moyles on Radio 1 and Ken Bruce on Radio 2.
MARTIN TODMAN, “The other Martin” on Saturday nights, Martin Todman came to HRR while in the second year of a radio journalism course in college in the mid-90s. He now works as a civil servant and in his spare time enjoys listening to 60s – 80s rock, pop & blues and reading the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (though not necessarily all at the same time …). He got his first radio at the age of 4 and remembers listening to Rob Jones on Radio 210 and buying Hey Music Lover by S Express as his first-ever record. Now he nurtures a secret ambition to produce and engineer a radio play.
MATTHEW ROLLAND is part of the award-winning Wednesday night HRR Requests team as well as hosting his own show which features all the week’s celebrity birthdays and entertainment news and regular interviews with showbiz personalities – including an astonishing number of cast-members from his favourite Australian soap opera! (See his article elsewhere in this magazine – Ed). Matthew works as an assistant manager at a local self-storage warehouse but his dream is to one day host his own radio show on Radio 1 alongside his favourite DJ, Chris Moyles. Matthew is a big fan of Ellie Goulding and many Aussie singers such as Kylie, Natalie Imbruglia, Delta Goodrem and lesser known singer Natalie Bassingthwaite, better known for her role in Neighbours as Izzy Hoyland. As you can tell, Matthew is also a fan of Neighbours but he also loves a lot of British dramas.
MIKE DAY has been one of the mainstays of our Saturday Sport programme since joining HRR in 2008 but already had a long and varied broadcasting career behind him. He started out at Scunthorpe Hospital Radio in the late 70s /early 80s where he presented a variety of shows and was also Publicity Officer. Between his two bouts of voluntary service with hospital stations he was lucky enough to work in BBC Local Radio presentation throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s, and did some work for the BBC World Service and Regional News too. At BBC Radio Humberside, he presented a range of programmes including the Saturday and Sunday Breakfast shows, weekday drivetime and weeknight sport as well as film reviews for most of the 1980s. He was also “the voice” on many promotional trailers. Mike used to teach Media Studies in Further Education and now works in customer services as a learning advisor as well as being a keen student himself with Open University qualifications in Government & Politics, History and Sociology.
NIKKY BRIGGS has been part of the HRR team since May 2007 but she started in hospital radio even earlier, joining Lincoln Hospital Radio at the age of 16 and soon hosting and producing her own show. Once settled in Reading, Nikky joined the Tuesday evening Record Requests crew, led James Burton Stewart, before moving to the Sunday breakfast show which, thanks to 21st century technology, she continues to host on a fortnightly basis from the other side of the world! Because, for the past four years, Nikky has been living in Melbourne, Australia, where she works in Public Relations and Marketing for a national company. She describes herself as “a foodie who enjoys yoga, meditation, jogging, travelling, sightseeing & reading and loves live music and learning about holistic wellbeing”.
PAUL ARTHUR did not originally intend to get involved in Hospital Radio Reading and only set foot in the building when accompanying his teenage daughter who had applied to join our Monday crew. But then, as he says, “having realised that I have a face for radio, I realised I could use this, combined with a love of music and an ability to easily talk to people with humour. The obvious place to use these skills was Hospital Radio. And the rest is history”. After two years on the Monday team Paul can now be heard playing your HRR Requests every Friday night as well as hosting his own weekly Rock Show.
RHODRI BUTTRICK, Known to everyone as Rhodders, joined HRR’s Saturday Lunchtime Requests team in 2007 and now leads it. He thinks working on a request show is the best possible programme he could have on the station : “Getting onto the wards and meeting the people the show is for is part of what makes hospital radio fun and unique. I meet all sorts of interesting people, I’ve met an 88-year-old paratrooper and been taught how to make loom bands by an 8 year old”. Rhodders was bitten by the radio bug at a very early age, when as a nine-year-old he was lucky enough to be shown around the studios of 2-Ten FM by the then breakfast presenter Guy Harris. He then started messing around with tape recorders to make “radio shows” in his bedroom at the age of 9 and began volunteering with HRR as soon as he was old enough. After 8 years on the Saturday lunchtime team Rhodders was finally rewarded with a gold award and officially announced as the Male Presenter of the Year category at the Hospital Broadcasting Association’s annual awards ceremony at Newcastle in March 2015. Rhodders is a stand up comedian, running a regularcomedy night in Reading and he has even performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. And in his spare time he can often be found hanging on for dear life to sheer cliffs and steep mountainsides as he’s a keen rock climber.
ROGER HOLMES, joined HRR in the summer of 2014 after a chance encounter with our outside broadcast team at that year’s League of Friends’ fete. He is no stranger to hospital broadcasting, however, having previously been a presenter at the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple before he and his wife moved to Reading in order to be closer to their daughter and her young family. Now Roger is a regular fixture on Sunday afternoons, co-hosting HRR Requests with Nick Tollervey. Although Rodger is now retired, he is kept busy outside of HRR with Amateur Dramatics. He and his wife had previously been involved with other am-dram groups over the last 15 years but in February 2014 they set up their own – the Tilehurst Amateur Dramatic Society (TADS for short) which is going from strength to strength. With around 30 members they perform 4 productions per year to the public at the Tilehurst Village Hall.
SCOTT MILES spends his days as a commercial heating engineer, but music is a big part of his life as well. He has been a key member of the Tuesday evening HRR Requests team since 2016. and when not at HRR Scott also moonlights as a mobile DJ for family and friends and enjoys a whole spectrum of musical genres. Scott’s favourite radio presenters are probably his near-namesake Scott Mills (I wonder why …? – Ed) and Chris Stark on Radio 1 and he still dreams of working full-time in radio, helping to either produce or present a show on a well-known station like Radio 1/1xtra or Kiss FM. But in the meantime their loss is our gain – Scott loves his involvement with HRR and says “Thank you to all the patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital that tune in and listen. I hope you all enjoy the shows and music we as a team at HRR provide and, if you’re in South Block on a Tuesday, I look forward to maybe meeting you on my ward-rounds and to playing your requests”.
STEPHEN HAM grew up listening to David Hamilton, Terry Wogan and the late Ray Moore on Radio 2 before switching to Radio 1 “on crackly medium wave” in the early 80’s. He joined HRR in 1996 and has been an active member ever since. After two years as Fund-raising Co-ordinator, he was the station’s Programme Controller for sixteen years, training presenters to use the studio equipment, providing general programming advice and producing the weekly programme schedule for the station. Though his all-time Top 3 is headed by Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over The World, Stephen’s first love is country music, which features heavily whenever he takes to the airwaves. On Saturday afternoons he also takes his turn on our Sports presenters ‘ rota – when he’s not watching Reading FC or London Irish at the Madejski stadium because when not on HRR Stephen is a keen follower of the Royals and other sport. As well as foreign holidays in France, Spain, the Canary Islands and the USA (his favourite destination being Alaska). He has also been a volunteer presenter on Blast 1386 and Reading Community Radio and can even be heard on Atlantis FM on the popular holiday island of Tenerife.
STUART HOLDEN spent six years on the Friday HRR Requests team team before taking over his current Saturday morning slot at the end of 2009. He claims to have joined HRR after a conversation in the pub with Gerard Rocks, with whom he shared a couple of mutual acquaintances, when he’d had too much to drink and was unable to put up any resistance!. Stuart works as an Account Manager for a Telecoms company and listens “to Radio 1 in the mornings, Jeremy Vine at lunch and Radio 4 for the rest of the day” (editor’s note : when do you get the work done, Stuart?). He enjoys all types of music except R&B, Hip hop and country and western, which means his tastes are considerably more sophisticated nowadays than when he bought his first record, the Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney (“I was very young at the time”).
SYD BOYD has been co-hosting the Friday evening “Record Requests” show since 2011 and, since he’s retired, when not on HRR divides his time between playing golf and singing. His passion for singing began at the age of 8, when his grandmother took him to entertain in old people’s clubs in Maidenhead. He then joined church and school choirs and for the past 20-odd years has been performing barbershop with the Thames Valley chorus. The first record he remembers buying, back in the fifties, was Bert Weedon’s recording of Apache (“I didn’t buy the Shadows’ version, as I didn’t like Cliff Richard”) and he now enjoys all kinds of music from musicals (such as “Les Miserables” which is often in the chorus’ repertoire) to Spandau Ballet and rock. Syd has two secret ambitions (well, they’re not so secret any more as Doris Day would have sung!) : to perform at the Albert Hall and to score a hole in one on the golf course (“the nearest I’ve got so far was about four inches away”).
TESS HERBERT is one of the station’s newest recruits, having joined the Monday crew on HRR Requests in October 2017 after meeting us at our stand at the RBH Trust’s Open Day. She describes herself as American by birth but British at heart. She was born in the northern mid-west of America in the state of Minnesota and despite the harsh climate she took a degree in Political Science and Theology (which, she says, warmed her heart) and then, after moving to England, pursued a career in Law and found herself drawn to the National Health Service. She must love the NHS as she not only volunteers in hospital radio but also works full time behind the scenes in the Royal Berkshire Hospital. In her free time she enjoys meeting and chatting with the patients thanks to her ward visits for HRR, running (through which she hopes to do to raise sponsorship for HRR) and volunteering for other great causes. She is a strong believer in positivity, being personable, showering people with kindness, and making a difference in the lives of those around her!