First Newspaper Article

"SO remember, if you want a request get on the telephone and dial 430." said D.J. Gerald French in his best Mid-West drawl at about 7 p.m. one Sunday.

Mind you, it was unlikely that the audience listening to the LP on the turntable were in a position to do much leaping about. Eighteen-year old Gerald is an unpaid volunteer and nearly all the listeners to his station, Radio Hillingdon, are patients at Hillingdon Hospital. He and four other apprentices from EMI Electronics have been running a record programme for several hours on Sunday evenings.

John Mandrak, Gerry French and David Brown


Their first broadcast was a taped show at Christmas. They have to compete with such established favourites as BBC Radio's "Pick of the Pops" but that does not worry them.

They try for a middle of the road show, with spots from Frank Sinatra and Jim Reeves as well as progressive pop to shake the bedclothes. Most of the records are their own - the Jim Reeves ones come from mum.


On the night the Gazette called, three D.J.s were on duty - Gerald of Cromwell Road, Hayes: 18-year-old John Mandrak of Victoria Road, Ruislip and 18-year-old David Brown of Iver Heath. There a other regulars, Steve Jones and Pat Flaherty.

The idea to brighten up the patients' time came from another EMI employee, Alan Hardy, who runs a similar service at the West Middlesex hospital.


Gerald and his friends became interested and approached Hillingdon about running a similar show there. Their programme reaches 14 wards and patients can listen in on earphones. The broadcasters are currently housed in a staff rest room and have to transport their equipment to the hospital each week.

They would like to expand their service to the patients but need more facilities and volunteer help. "We hope to have a room of our own eventually",said John. At the moment, however, a hospital spokesman says that space is scarce. But permanent accommodation may be found for them soon.

The D.J.s visit wards asking for requests and patients can also ring down to them on the internal phone. People with friends or relatives in hospital can ring up on Sunday evening and have a request played. But the D.J.s are anxious that at other times the hospital switchboard is not bothered with messages or dedications.

They try and slip in the odd interview with anyone interesting during the programme. The trio obviously enjoy being broadcasters. David likes meeting the patients. He is also keen on the technical side of broadcasting. During the week he acts as D.J. at the Iver Heath Youth Club.


Occasionally there are slight technical hitches. "If something goes wrong, we tell the patients and they have a good laugh", said David. The nursing staff have been passing on good reports about patients' response to Radio Hillingdon.

"Wunnerful Radio Hillingdon" staff have also been making up their own jingles to advertise the show. but not any products, that is forbidden. Being a D.J. they admit, is not as easy as it sounds. It is quite easy to dry up at tirst. And those transatlantic voices? They just seem to come naturally on the air.

Middlesex Advertiser and Gazette July 22nd 1971.