Phil Brook

I wanted to be a singer in a rock and roll band or, more precisely, a skiffle group but there was a problem. Despite my mother having all the required instruments such as a suitable washboard and thimbles the childish voice had not yet broken. This eventually led to further difficulties in achieving my ambition when my voice was deemed most unsuitable even for the school choir! I could always try a musical instrument and perhaps playing the bassoon might offer salvation? My attempts were less musical than expectation and so was very successful in playing this wind instrument rather badly! This taught a vital lesson that I would be much better off just listening to rather than emulating music.

After being weaned off nursery rhymes then I found musical salvation in Tommy Steele before discovering the great Lonnie Donegan who inspired me to quickly become a failed musician where the basic requirements for the task were obviously missing. Realising that I should keep abreast of the latest sounds, Cliff and the Shadows predated the Beatles in my musical choice. My Desert Island Discs selection frequently changed as I discovered the latest genres and after being a fan of rock then became a fascinated by the punk scene although seeing my shoulder length hair did make me stand out from this crowd. From New Wave to the Dance environment via electronic music I sampled it all. Considering that my musical tastes are quite wide then this love of music had to be put to some good as why should I be so selfish not to share this appreciation with others?

Whilst still at school I joined the Monday night team of hospital radio and quickly became the youngest member at the time where engineering duties were most suited to my skills. I just looked forward to each week as it was such a joy to be part of this team and realised that this type of voluntary work was made for me. Always striving to improve the manual operation of the then very basic and simplistic mixing desk I was determined to be the best. It would be for others to judge if I ever made that standard but helping to broadcast the record request programme to the patients in hospital was something to be very proud of. The vast mix of genres and styles always amazed and it is very gratifying to be thanked for making a patients stay in hospital a little better.

Even four decades later I still get a buzz from broadcasting although now have been demoted to Tuesday nights as this is not the premier evening of the week! At present I am the Tuesday night controller who is in overall charge of the programmes that originate from our studios in the hospital premises and contribute to the evenings programme in two ways. Firstly and more importantly I along with other colleagues introduce the music from the patient’s requests and do not consider myself to be a disc jockey in any sense. Prior to this I put together a thirty minute programme entitled Downtempo which features music that fits the title. Trying to expand the music to cover a multitude of genres then will frequently surprise other members of the team and did on one occasion play the music of Ringo Starr (The Beatles) and Roni Size (Drum ‘n Bass artist) in the same programme. Should you unfortunately be in the HRI on this night then please listen and any comments would be very much welcomed.

Age should not prevent the acceptance of new forms of music and I endeavour to keep abreast of the latest developments. It is never too late to learn and information about songs and artists can make a programme more entertaining providing control is exercised. Although generally not a supporter of censorship, I realise at times that common sense has to be used as these days some lyricists aim their comments at a market that is more than likely to upset a number of ordinary listeners so have to be mindful and responsible. Although retirement from work is on the horizon, as far as hospital radio is concerned the prospect of taking a back seat is not contemplated and fully expect to get my fifty year certificate of membership before the end of this decade.

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