Radio Mid gear ‘gathering dust’

Former Radio Mid Chairperson Tom McKeown and committee member Alfie Dawson.mm33-341sr
Former Radio Mid Chairperson Tom McKeown and committee member Alfie Dawson.mm33-341sr
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A FORMER presenter at Radio Mid is appealing for help in getting rid of equipment and CDs now gathering dust at the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt.

“I’ve no idea how to get rid of what’s there,” said Alfie Dawson, who presented a gospel show at weekends for 20 years. “I had thought of an auction but I’m open to suggestions and would appreciate some help.”

BY STANLEY CAMPBELL

The last patient request was played by Alfie on May 21 last year and since then silence has reigned throughout the hospital.

The equipment and CDs – several thousand – belong to the Radio Mid Committee, a team of volunteers who gave up their spare time to produce and present programmes for patients and staff.

Fundraising in Mid-Ulster towns and villages and generous contributions from Cookstown and Magherafelt Councils as well as Lottery funding had helped to keep the station going over the years.

But the arrival of Ipods and MP3 players contributed to its gradual demise followed in recent years by the transfer of in-patients to Antrim Area Hospital.

The studio is located beneath the main hospital building and was is susceptible to flooding.

Chairman Tom McKeown said they would be consulting the station’s constitution to ensure that they are doing everything by the rules.

He said they would also be drawing-up a list of equipment and CDs for the Hospital Radio Broadcasting Northern Ireland.

“If it can’t be distributed among the existing hospital radio stations in Northern Ireland then we will have to look at maybe auctioning it off,” he said.

He admitted a lot of the equipment was out-of-date but was still usable, perhaps by a youth club or similar organisation.

Mr McKeown, who joined the station in 1990, says the equipment – including outdoor broadcasting gear – and CDs were worth around £5,000.

He said if it came to an auction then Radio Mid Committee would donate the proceeds to a choosen charity.

Radio Mid began broadcasting on September 14 1980 after hospital surgeon Mr Wilfred Brennen unveiled a small plaque

The first record played was Country and Western singer Brendan Quinn’s “I Can Almost See My Hometown From Here.”

The Magherafelt man said he had happy memories of Radio Mid, having been interviewed by various presenters over the years.

“It’s very sad the way things have gone at the hospital,” he said.

The first presenter to broadcast from the studio – a bed store 32 years ago – was Big T, who still broadcasts on Downtown Radio.

stanley.campbell@jpress.co.uk