Northern Air Hospital Radio
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History of Northern Air Hospital Radio
The story of voluntary hospital broadcasting in Manchester and Salford began nearly half a century ago. In 1960 Stanley Langer and Norman Mendelson devised the idea of screening films to patients in Delaunays (now North Manchester General) Hospital to help them to relax and to aid convalescence. Stanley was also well aware of the therapeutic benefits of music and, backed by The Rotary Club of Manchester North, he also initiated a bespoke hospital radio service, and every Thursday he would broadcast record requests and dedications direct to the wards.

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In these early days, the ‘studio’ was the Matrons’ Sitting Room at Crumpsall. The record player and small collection of records would be brought out each Thursday evening and they would then be packed away again until the following week. Prior to this, during the day, Stanley used to visit all the Manchester and Salford hospitals (14 in total) to gather requests and dedications for the programme.

From the feedback received, the faith of Stanley and the other volunteers in the viability of the project was repaid almost immediately. The effect on patient morale was reassuringly positive, and there was great enthusiasm from the hospital authorities and medical staff for an increased level of service. As a result, broadcasts became more and more frequent.

By 1969 the station was operating six nights a week. Radio HBS, as it was then called, provided a range and standard of output that many a commercial radio station would have envied – everything from sport and hits of the day, to services from the Hospital Chapel. Outside broadcast concerts from Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, and later from The Bridgewater Hall, were one of the most popular elements of the programme schedule, and these continue to this very day.

Entertaining the patients was paramount, with volunteers continuing to visit the wards, involving patients, doctors and nurses in the programme content, and encouraging people to join in with quizzes and phone-ins.

On 15th June1988, the Duke of Devonshire opened the purpose built studios, which are the centre of operations for Northern Air today. The Duchess of Devonshire remains a Patron, and Northern Air is proud to also receive the patronage and support of many other distinguished figures. With an ever-expanding CD and record collection, Northern Air has continued to grow and has become state of the art in terms of technology and equipment, all the result of generous donations over the years. Throughout this time, the continuing and unstinting dedication of hundreds of volunteers has ensured that literally thousands of patients have become part of a caring radio-based hospital community.

And in this ever-changing world, it’s reassuring to know that there is a line of succession in the running of this vital service. Stanley’s son, Dave Langer, is as much involved as his late father was. Dave ably assists Station Manager John Robinson & Chairman Joe Sambrook  in the day-to-day operations and long- term future of the station. Northern Air now broadcasts 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week to the North Manchester General Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital communities.