HBA Conference Bursary Report: Daniel Edward - Radio Brockley

The HBA offers bursaries to first time delegates at many of its events. For the HBA Conference 2017, two bursary winners offer their review of the proceedings and encourage members to attend a future Conference event. The words below are from Radio Brockley member, Daniel Edward, who was awarded with the HBA Conference & Awards Bursary.

I sit in the Conference Lounge on Sunday morning, HBA glasswear leaning on my left arm, Sonifex USB that I’d picked up at the tradeshow in my hand, and notes scrawled on canary yellow paper rest on my lap - a collection of thoughts from the fantastic selection of seminars, which made up this year's HBA Conference.

And those seminars - varied, informative and entertaining - have provided me with much to think about and take home to Radio Brockley - we won Silver for Station of the Year this year, so perhaps the lessons learned at the Conference will be the gold-plating on next year’s entry!

But even more important than the awards, which truly are an honour, this Conference sends us home with bag loads of 24 carat nuggets to enhance our station’s offering to the patients at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore.

Developing Digital Communications

Ian Pinnell and Sam Smette’s presentation on developing digital communications touched on a wide array of online communication methods. I was pleased to hear Ian and Sam recommend social media approaches that we also use at Radio Brockley. The key development point I drew from this seminar for my station is for our website. It’s the front window of our station and there are many opportunities for us to develop this and make it more useful to patients and their families before, during and after their stay at our hospital.

Since attending the seminar, I’ve already started this conversation with the other trustees and look forward to unveiling a user-friendly online experience for smart-phone and tablet-using patients in the next few months.

When Stuff Goes Wrong!

Chris Steven’s 60 minute romp through the messy and hysterical underworld of accidental radio pornography, surprise calls from self-absorbed presenters who seem unable to fathom that not everyone knows (or cares!) who they are, and hilarious tongue-in-cheek recordings that were never meant to be released! Chris’ humorous session had the whole room in stitches, and we parted with a clear idea of what not to do as well as some useful tips - read in advance and only use words you know the meaning of, for example. A word to the wise! Chris also made the important point about preparing backup material for every eventuality - in a moment of tragedy, Blame It On The Boogie probably isn’t the song to play!

What’s The Point?

David Lloyd’s session was also enjoyable and enlightening. I had read his blog article about whether there is still any point to hospital radio and was looking forward to hearing him speak on the topic. He raised an interesting question for hospital radio stations when he asked us to focus on why before we consider the whats, whens and hows. Why do we do what we do? I was pleased to hear him denounce the importance of the studio for hospital radio stations - this is a point I had made to a fellow volunteer just before the conference; almost everything we do could be done without a physical studio. David challenged us to think deeper about why we volunteer at our stations.

For me, it’s not about the technology or gadgets - our studio equipment at Radio Brockley is 20 years older than me, and if I want to press buttons I’m perfectly happy using a toaster. As David pointed out, we are offering companionship and non-medical support to patients and their families at a stressful time for them. And he advised us to focus on our customers and ignore the rest. For Radio Brockley I understood David as advising us to focus on our patients - who travel to Stanmore from all over the UK for the expert orthopaedic treatment delivered by the hospital - without becoming distracted by the draw of a potential larger audience by broadcasting for the local Stanmore community. You can only listen to Radio Brockley within the hospital, which gives us the perfect reason to focus all of our efforts and attention on our patient listeners.

In the Question and Answer discussion following David’s presentation I added that our stations also serve to develop the skills and confidence of our volunteers. Many of us in attendance at the Conference were Trustees or leaders within our stations and I am sure that if we invest in our volunteers then our patients will reap the rewards.

As an aside, I would like to know where David bought his heart-smattered navy blue shirt - a great choice, and a definite reason for radio stations to consider webcams!

Annual General Meeting and Hearing Others’ Thoughts

The AGM was an interesting opportunity to hear other stations’ situations and concerns. Our hospital doesn’t use the Hospedia system, for example, and it became apparent from the energetic discussion at the meeting that such methods of distribution are a cause of frustration for many stations... Though this brings me back to David’s why question: at our core, we are hospital entertainment providers, and so it is encouraging to hear of various stations working solutions around distribution and exposure issues.

At Radio Brockley, for instance, we play Bedside Bingo every Sunday night. Sometimes we take our Bingo Balls to one of the wards and host the hospital-wide game live from there. Our patients love the increased interaction and fun, and it means even more ward time for our volunteers, which is surely the best thing we offer to patients.

Daniel Edwards collecting the Best Specialist Music Award

Life Stories and Inspiration

Alan Dedicoat’s Lazy Saturday added another dimension to the Conference - as Stephanie Hirst’s Audience withhad on Friday evening. These conversations with leading lights of radio served to inspire as well as entertain. It wasn’t so much hearing what stations they have been involved with, or what job they’ve enjoyed most, but hearing the genuine enthusiasm as they spoke about a career they love. In Stephanie’s case, a career for which she would rather have died than continue life without. They spoke with the excitement of someone entering a radio station for the very first time - that’s inspiring and infectious.

Glittering Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony

And finally, it would be remiss of me to recount a hugely successful conference weekend in Bolton without taking a moment to appreciate the immense effort that went into the Gala Dinner and HBA Awards. Hosted in the stunning Cloisters Suite venue - a converted church beautifully presented from the impressive vaulted ceiling to the stylishly decorated tables. The dinner was lovely and it was a personal delight to win the Bronze award for Specialist Music Show, as well as Silver for Station of the Year and Gold for Best Speech Package with the rest of the team at Radio Brockley.

I look forward to returning to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital with a spring in my step, and a touch of that infectious enthusiasm for hospital broadcasting shared by so many at the Conference.

Thank you very much to the whole team for all their efforts in this year’s event, and for enabling me to share this experience with you.