During the week, Mark Oldfield is a Business Development Manager for TYRI Lights UK based in North Yorkshire. But on weekends, he hosts The Saturday Morning Music Zone, a popular radio show at Harrogate Hospital Radio. He tells us how it all came about and how his volunteering impacts his life, his day job and his local community.
I have been a DJ since I was 18 years old. My passion for music started at school when I was asked by the headmaster if I would like to play some music at our school disco in 1976. The first record I ever played was Mississippi by Pussycat!
My friend introduced me to the idea of Hospital Radio in 1978, when I volunteered in Huddersfield near where I lived at the time. I then took a break from hospital radio for some time. Firstly, doing mobile discos and then working part-time as a technical assistant at a commercial radio station, Pennine FM, (they changed branding soon after to The Pulse of West Yorkshire).
I returned to Hospital Radio many years later in 2013. I was bored at home on one evening and looking into hospital radio, I discovered Harrogate Hospital Radio and applied to join the volunteer radio program.
My Saturday morning show (10 am until 12 noon) is a magazine-style show. I talk about local news stories and events that are going on in the area. I invite guests on the show to talk about projects they are involved with. I take a virtual trip to the movies where I talk about a film and then play two pieces of music from its soundtrack. I even use the fact of the week that’s included in Forkliftaction News. My eight-year-old nephew, George, reads out the facts in a feature I call ‘Well, I didn’t know that’.
I enjoy having the freedom to play music that I like on my show. I have a wide taste in music that changes regularly, but my firm favourites span from ABBA to Deacon Blue to John Denver.
I always feel positive after a show, knowing that I have made a difference. You never know who or how many people are listening, but I try make it personal by sounding as if I am talking to individuals not a group of people.
During the pandemic the sense of bringing people together was even stronger. Patients were not allowed visitors, so the only point of contact was Hospital Radio. Patient’s families and friends were emailing and calling the studio asking to play music and send messages to their loved ones at the hospital.
In 2018, I applied to Ofcom for an FM licence after the trust removed all listening devices from wards where they were given a grant for public Wi-Fi to be installed at the hospital. Elderly patients, patients with learning difficulties don’t all have or know how to use a smartphone/device.
I was turned down three times for the licence. However, after a petition online and getting our MP involved, Ofcom called me direct to offer a low power restricted licence to broadcast in a small radius (2 km) of the hospital.
We started broadcasting on 95.3 FM on September 1 2021; this will be renewed in September this year.
It has been a massive success, and we have also fundraised money to buy 100 FM radios to provide to patients on the wards.
In 2020, I was surprised to learn I had been nominated for the John Whitney award for outstanding contribution to the community after being nominated by my fellow members/committee of Harrogate Hospital Radio.
The reward of doing Hospital Radio is the thanks you get from patients and staff who call, email or text the studio to thank you for brightening or making their stay in hospital just that little bit better. This makes it all worthwhile.
So what is my day job? I am the Business Development Manager for TYRI Lights UK Ltd. I cover the UK, the Benelux countries and Ireland. We are based in Skipton, North Yorkshire. I have been with the company 13 years.
I like working with a wide range of people from purchasing, engineers and senior management to offer solutions to their projects. Over the years, I have built up strong relationships with major companies (and small companies) in all sectors and gained TYRI a good reputation for supplying quality LED lights.
Doing radio has influenced me in my day job. I find it has helped me to develop the skill of asking open-ended questions about the products I am selling, and then working to get the best answers for my customers. Telling customers about my voluntary radio work is always a great conversation starter - it always takes the conversation in a positive direction.
Some of my customers even listen online to my show and email me with a request or two at www.harrogatehospitalradio.org.uk.
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