Broadcasting to Patients in Reading's Hospitals Since 1957



ianbruceHospital Radio Reading’s longest serving active member, Ian joined the organisation in 1968 (Yes – 1968! You’d think that he’d have come to his senses by now, wouldn’t you?). Before that he’d been resident DJ at a local nightspot, called The Thing-a-me-Jig Club, situated in a former mortuary behind John Lewis which was where The Oracle shopping centre now stands.  These days you’ll hear him in charge of HRR’s live football commentaries on The Royals from the Madejski Stadium, supported by Graeme Collyer, Reading FC historian David Downs and some very effective thermal underwear…. When the Royals are not playing at home you’ll also hear him presenting in Saturday Sport on a rota basis and he also produces and presents the late-night easy listening programme “Three and Easy” (So he’s a very busy chap! – Ed)

When not on HRR  : Ian is a retired Bank Manager, although don’t ever call him a gentleman of leisure! He claims “researching and producing Three and Easy does take up an enormous amount of my time (even though it may sound as if it’s just thrown together!). In fact I can easily spend whole days at my computer on this project, barely ever glimpsing sunlight. And in response to the old exhortation “You ought to get out more” Ian spent many hours until recently messing about on his own canal narrowboat and he can also be found these days working as a volunteer steward / usher at Newbury’s Corn Exchange and Watermill Theatre.

Musical Memories ? : “I always remember desperately searching the airwaves for any statin that played pop music. In my (long distant) youth, these were very scarce. Apart from a couple of hours a week on the BBC Light Programme or the intermittent signal on 208 from Radio Luxembourg, there was nothing. Then on Easter Weekend 1964, along came Radio Caroline and that was it. I was smitten! It was very much a case of (as the American radio stations would say), “Turn on. Tune in and rip off the knob!” Radio was born that day – albeit nearly 7 years after Hospital Radio Reading!”

Ian remembers the first record  he ever bought – “Take Good Care Of My Baby” by Bobby Vee, an ex-jukebox record, purchased for 4/6d (just over 22p) in Birkenhead Market. And he still has that record today! These days he enjoys all kinds of music – with the possible exception of Grand Opera (“I can’t cope with some fat Germanic bird wailing at me for hours on end!”)

Broadcasting heroes ?  “Back in the 60s I was always listening to Johnnie Walker under the bedclothes, crackling through the ether on Radio Caroline. I guess he’s always been one of my favourites. Also up there is Roger “Twiggy” Day, who is currently on BBC Radio Berkshire from 7pm on weekdays and one of my friends on Facebook. They both have that knack of making you feel they are just talking to you and no one else. At the other end of the scale, there was only ever one Alan “Fluff” Freeman. For pure professionalism and the ability to “ham” it up. (Not ‘Arf, Pop Pickers!)  Finally, Danny Baker gets a vote as one of the quickest thinkers on the air. I think he’s about the only radio presenter who can make me laugh out loud – even when I’m on my own” .


Not Many People Know That …….   Ian once had to summon help over the airwaves in the middle of a programme for one of our engineers who had received a violent electric shock and had been thrown, unconscious across the studio. The message was received and the ambulance arrived (The power of live radio ….!  And, then again, he once managed to get himself locked out of the HRR studio in the middle of a programme  (“Stupid Boy!” – Ed.)


How long have you been with hospital radio (in Reading or elsewhere)?
48 years as of September 2016

How did you get started? Have you ever been on the receiving end of Hospital radio?
Recommended by friends who were already members. During the past year I’ve listened to far too much Hospital Radio!  Mainly HR Basingstoke and Radio Cherwell (Oxford). I am now able to listen to HRR at home, way out west, in Hungerford, via the TuneIn Radio App, which is great.

Shows you do / have done on HRR
"Three & Easy" 5 nights a week.
Football commentaries from the Mad Stad.
Very occasional stints on "Saturday Sport"

What’s your day job? What do you do when not at HRR (secret hobbies etc) ?
I’m retired. I used to be a Bank Manager, before it became a term of abuse!
I used to love messing about on my own canal narrowboat, but recent ill health has seen to that, unfortunately.I’m a self-confessed Pirate Radio anorak.
I also work as a volunteer Steward/usher at The Corn Exchange, Newbury and The Watermill Theatre, Newbury.

Musical preferences
Literally anything that takes my fancy. It largely depends on what mood I’m in.

Earliest radio / musical memories ?
Apart from Alan “Fluff” Freeman on Pick of the Pops, I would spend hours scanning the ether, picking up short wave radio broadcasts from around the world, sending in reception reports and collecting their QSL cards. But I was really bitten by the Radio Bug in Easter 1964 with the arrival of Radio Caroline and the rest, as they say, is history.

What was the first record you remember buying?
“Take Good Care of my Baby” – Bobby Vee.
From Birkenhead market.
It was an ex-juke box record and cost 4/6d (just over 22p)

Are there any broadcasters or personalities who have influenced you or whom you particularly admire ?
Alan "Fluff" Freeman, Johnnie Walker, Roger Day, Danny Baker
………and of course Ron Sedaille on WDRC FM.

Secret ambition (in radio or elsewhere)?
Staying alive, mainly!

Is there something about you that your listeners (and colleagues!) don’t know which would really surprise them…?
Once, I had to summon help over the airwaves in the middle of a programme for one of our engineers who had received a violent electric shock and was thrown, unconscious across the studio. The message was received and the ambulance arrived. The power of live radio!

And anything else you’d like to tell us….?
Having listened to a lot of Hospital Radio over the past year, I can assure you that it is very highly regarded by the listeners. Even I was thrilled to have a request played on Hospital Radio Basingstoke. I felt so famous! You really are doing a great job, believe me. Thank you from all the patients.


About HRR

Hospital Radio Reading (HRR) is the hospital radio station which broadcasts to the patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading via the Hospedia Entertainment system and online via this website.

Registered Charity Number: 244974

Reading Hospital Broadcasting Service.