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Why I felt I had to leave Hospital Radio after eight years…

I want to start with an overview of doing voluntary work. When you give up your time for free to give something back, you do so because you enjoy it and not because you endure it. Once you come away from it less happy than you were going in then it is time to stop. In general I’ve found voluntary work to follow a certain pattern. You start and you enjoy it, then you enjoy it a little bit less but still enjoy it, then you do it because it is what you do, then you do it out of obligation and then you the negatives start outweighing the positives and it is time to walk away. That is pretty much what happened here.

For seven odd years I thoroughly enjoyed it but the last year less so and certainly the past few months. Most people that knew me away from the station were really hoping I’d walk away as it sooner than I did. They knew how much it was agitating me. As someone else at the station said (whom I didn’t share a night with) said to me ‘there is just too much politics’ and that I think it probably quite a fair statement. Heck I’m involved in politics and if you’d have asked me whether local politics or the Hospital Radio station was more political, I wouldn’t be able to answer straight away, it would require some thought.

I was involved in two separate shows and I will talk about them in isolation because I could do one without the other.

For eight years I had been involved in the request show on a Wednesday night. People have come and people have gone. The show has gone on and will continue to do so without me. For many years I was trusted to do the show but in recent months it was clear that for whatever reason, that trust had evaporated. I was never told why this trust had gone but I have my suspicions. It could of course be that the board had decided to adopt Fox Mulder’s policy of ‘Trust No-one’ because the rumblings from other nights and from other people was that the board didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t them.

It came to a head for me personally when one week a board member was sent in to spy on me under the pretense that we needed extra people to do the show as we had a grand total of one person away. So that meant we still had five people, which is way more than enough to do the request collecting and present the show. How do I know that she was sent to spy on me? Well lets put it this way, she won’t be working for the secret service anytime soon. I won’t go into detail but I will say this, it wasn’t just me that thought it, every single person thought it and thought it straight away.

There is some added background I should probably throw in at this point. Certain people have long perceived me to have an ego that needed to be curbed. Whether or not I have an ego is up for debate and I won’t sit here and type that I didn’t think I was pretty darn good at what I did – both on the wards and in terms of presenting – but when new members are introduced to me with the words, ‘this is Neil, he thinks its his show but its not’ then I personally think that lacks class somewhat and is actually off.

I haven’t applied to do any other radio work. I never asked to do my own show. Even when I joined the football team I did so because I was asked and not because I asked. Many people come into that radio station with ambitions to go further in radio and actively use it to just further their radio journey before dropping it the moment they’ve got what they wanted, yet folks it is me, the loyal guy who hasn’t used the station who has the ego problem that is damaging everyone else. With me out of the way everyone will be happy and blossom. I was the problem. Yeah…

Here is a good example of the type of thing that was being introduced that I found annoying. Obviously when presenting a radio show as part of a team, only one person can drive the show at any one point. That just comes with the territory of presenting on radio. So you have to rotate amongst the people that want to do it. However too much rotation within a show leads to a disconcerting experience for the listener. I have heard shows with three or four main presenters within a two hour block and frankly they are terrible.

Anyway recently there were just two people who wanted to drive the show so we did the whole show each on alternate weeks. We both preferred that to doing one hour each every week. However the board decided that wasn’t good enough and that every week we had to rotate amongst everyone who wanted to drive a show. So if for example there are six people who want to drive a show then they have to get 20 minutes each. That is to be frank madness and doesn’t think about the listener experience but whatever. In terms of the night I did, we had to change the way we did things despite everyone being happy with how we did it because someone on the board disagreed. Does that really make much sense?

So I was always going to take the World Cup off as a) I wanted to watch as much of it as possible and b) I actually had quite a bit of work to do on unsurprisingly giving what I actually do for a living. I also thought this would give plenty of time for others to present without my evil spectre hovering over them and curbing them. When asked why I wasn’t there the next week, a board member said that I had ‘gone off in a huff’ – all class folks. All class. I had decided not to return during this hiatus but came in for one week as the others who could present were both away, I came back but got told so many new rules and all the things I now wasn’t allowed to do because I was too dominating and I knew I was done.

That is why my request show team days were done but of course I still did the football, well I thought I did. I’ll start from the very beginning. Three years ago I was asked to become the third man in a two man booth to cover for one of the two main guys if they were away, one of these two was retiring and moving away so I would do my time and become his replacement. Excellent news.

For three years that was the case up until this summer. Over the course of these three years I had done more and more games but only strictly as the summeriser. That is key here folks and I’ll tell you why. At the AGM this year it was brought up that they really needed someone to train up to commentate if both of the two main guys were unavailable. Someone actually brought me up and asked about me as surely I was involved and it drew a rather interesting response. Apparently I was only a summeriser, I was not as good as I thought I was, I had too big of an ego, I didn’t understand how much work was involved in commentating and to be blunt – I just wasn’t the person they wanted. The fun bit was I was actually in the room and heard all of this. A nice personal attack at the AGM and did anyone step up and say that wasn’t on? No they didn’t. Afterwards several people came up to me and asked what that was all about and I said I didn’t know but it just reinforced the notion that I believed I just wasn’t liked and it was thought life would be better if I just disappeared.

For three years I was told I would be the next commentator and I was ready to undergo whatever training was needed. Everyone knew this and I was told I’d get the appropriate training this summer. Instead of this however the station advertised for new commentators, interviewed a couple of people and I believe have brought at least one of them on board and maybe even both. With the current set up of two commentators and bringing in at least one new person, you don’t need four people as it is extremely rare both main guys will be unavailable. So the new person is now obviously the cover guy and I’ve been relegated to ‘use only in desperation’ or ‘do not use at all’ – I haven’t been told which.

Now here’s something else. I was already down to cover the opening game of the season as one of the two guys was unavailable. A few days before I was told that they had hired a new person and he’d also be doing that game. The thing is we only have two press passes. Three into two doesn’t go. I read this and knew that even if I went to the game, I wouldn’t get in as you aren’t going to bring in a new person for their first game and say he can’t come in, so I just said if I needed to step down then that is fine and that was greatly received.

I said nothing on it because of the Southend v Portsmouth match on September 13. I had already been told that I was covering this game so I knew that if I was completely out of the radio that I’d hear nothing and not get to cover this game. I heard nothing and can now assume that I’ve been cut adrift completely. It is annoying as I had two friends wedding that day and I had said I couldn’t go to the reception because I already had plans.

Personally I think certainly on this front I’ve been treated pretty shabbily. I’m sure others will disagree and say I’m at fault or maybe that I was just never good enough but three years ago I was brought in to replace a guy as he was leaving. Three years later I’ve been culled before he’s left and before I was ever given the opportunity to step up to commentate. To be cut without ever actually being given the opportunity sucks but what can you do?

So I walk away with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth I must admit. I’ve not even written half of the things that I could. I hope that my departure means that everything is now amazing and my perceived reign of terror is over. Everyone will come out of their shells and blossom into the radio presenters they were meant to be if I wasn’t stunting their growth and dominating the situation. In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.

Yet at some point you just realise that you just aren’t wanted anymore and when that happens it is best to just walk away. That is the same in many forms of life. There is no point trying to save something that is beyond saving and if you aren’t wanted you aren’t wanted. What can you do? I’m sure the station will carry on perfectly well without me and probably most think it’ll be a darn site better too.

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Published inHospital Radio


  1. Tom Phillips Tom Phillips

    Wow…. I didn’t realise the complexities of Hospital Radio, I just had visions of it being a guy who turns up in some dusty cupboard with some tapes to play, kinda Spencer Style from Pheonix Nights! AGM’s? Sorry to dumb down your efforts! I have never worked with you, but I don’t have you down as an ego mad fool!

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      It should really be that simple – certainly for those who aren’t on the board but increasingly not so it seems.

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