When Mike Binns first joined his local hospital radio station, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today with turntables and lots of switches to operate. Fast-forward three decades and the majority of music is now in digital format and broadcast via the internet.
Mike, from Cleckheaton, has stepped down as chairman of Dewsbury-based charity HWD Hospital Radio after 33 years at the helm, one of a number of the station’s long-standing volunteers.
He said: “When I first started at the station, we were based in the attic at Batley General Hospital, which was a bit of a climb up several flights of stairs.Digital sound didn’t exist, in fact all music was played on record turntables which needed two people to operate, so we had a station assistant who used to put the needle on the record while the presenter was talking. Patients listened to us through bedside headsets with the station being piped in through wires to a number of hospitals and council residential homes.”
Mike was working at Batley General Hospital in the early 80s when a record request collection box on a wall peaked his interest. Having been a DJ, he wanted to turn his hand to radio. He and wife Elaine attended their first meeting together, where Elaine became station secretary. Mike joined the broadcasting team, becoming station controller and then chairman in March 1990.
He oversaw the station’s move to a brand new studio when Dewsbury and District Hospital was built, with volunteers successfully raising thousands of pounds to build and install bespoke broadcasting equipment, heralding a new era for the station.
Mike added “We were still using turntables when we built the new studio complex, but we eventually moved to compact discs. We use both of these today and have a vast record library, but most of our music is digital and stored on computers. Technology has come a long way and we now broadcast over the internet so you can listen to us just about anywhere.”
Despite stepping down as chairman, Mike isn’t ready to hang up his headphones just yet. He will continue to present the station’s flagship Sunday request show You Pick The Mix, and wake up listeners on the Saturday breakfast show.
HWD Hospital Radio broadcasts to patients and staff at Mid Yorkshire Teaching Trust hospitals in Dewsbury, Wakefield and Pontefract. You can find out more about the station, including how to get involved at hwdhospitalradio.com.