Personal View – What does £50 get us?

What Does £50 a year get us?

They have been my exact words for the last year at every Hospital Radio meeting, event and gathering, and it’s in relation to the Hospital Broadcast Association (HBA).

Over the years, the charity have been members of the HBA
(plus it’s former NAHBO), but in recent times have seen the membership fees hike up to £50 a year.
I first started volunteering with the charity it was about £20 – 30 a year! so why the almost double in price?

Well it’s something I can’t find the answer to.

The HBA is an organisation that represents Hospital Radio across the UK, it has  regional reps that are supposed to interact with the stations, encouraging sharing of ideas, information, support and advice, feeding back concerns to the main body of the HBA, there was/is a training sessions, plus the annual conference and awards.

But recent years, the subscription seems to have increased, but the service offered has decreased, a lot. There isn’t even a regional representatives anymore – and this is exactly where my issue is.

Stations where asked to fill out questionnaires as to what the HBA could do to improve some years before, which this data is supposed to shape the way the service is delivered.

In 2015, the HBA undertook a review of it’s self, as it highlighted areas it was struggling in, admitting it hasn’t been operating as well as it should, stating “A full review of the operation and structure of the organisation focusing on what HBA needs deliver to its constituent membership.”

The charities I’ve worked with have suffered major problems with a Bedside TV provider, I communicated with the HBA to advice to see if there was any legal standing for the charity equivalent of loss of earnings or damage to reputation etc caused by badly maintained third party system (now removed).
I got one answer, which was go to another third party TV company that work with the HBA.
Now the Charity doesn’t run the contracts for the TV’s. It’s the Hospital Trusts that runs the building, they manage it. However, they had already stated they don’t want any more third-party systems that charges patients to use it!
As far as advice goes, it wasn’t exactly helpful.

Following this I attended the HBA annual conference in Newcastle and asked outright, “listening to everything said, and constant talk of restructure, are the HBA fit purpose anymore?”

I got a blunt answer of “yes” and was ignored the rest of the conference.

Feeling my questions remain unanswered, I started asking my fellow volunteers at the Charity if they felt it was value for money, the responses I initially received where interesting; More than half of my own fellow volunteers didn’t know what the HBA are or what they did.

So into 2017, we asked the charity volunteers again, who felt they didn’t know much about the HBA, so we organised for a rep to come in and explain what the HBA does exactly. – The first visit we’ve had in years.

Following the presentation, some interesting feedback was gathered from the volunteers. Some now think we shouldn’t renew as it’s not worth it,  a couple  have signed up to their website as affiliates of our charity.
The remainder are uninterested as it doesn’t affect how we run.

So why exactly am I disgruntled?

I’ve asked questions, and don’t feel helped at all. I’ve never had a follow up to ask if the issues was resolved or are ongoing.
Then other things annoy me,

  • The Conference – Has a sizeable fee
  • The Awards Gala – Additional fee
  • Some Training sessions – Has a fee

As far as £50 goes… what did it actually get us?

I’ve established this;

  • A monthly e-newsletter – Freely produced by mailchimp.
  • A Quarterly e-magazine – Funded by advertising (Note this used to be printed and posted, now digital only).
  • Access to a Forum – That you can wait weeks / months for a reply.
  • Apply for grants – Issued three times a year, but can’t recall the last time I heard of one being rewarded.

Mat, why not offer solutions?

Oh easy – shut it down and start again.

  • Reduction in Annual Subscriptions – I would estimate at the moment at least £10,000 is made on subs alone (200 stations x £50 each)  Let’s half the price of that to £25.00. Alternatively, go in for a higher fee (say £100 PA) but do a price freeze for  five to 10 years. In both cases keep a close eye on spending and review. Plus I’d have have an agreement as to what’s expected from the HBA & the stations – We have a volunteer contract stating what we both get out of it.
  • Cheaper Conference prices and FREE Training sessions – Conference day pass is about £50 expect something like 200 – 400 people? That’s again another £10+K – The event pays for itself after-all!
  • More interaction with your members – actually asking them what challenges they are confronting. – This will ultimately result in the members of the individual charities interacting with the HBA more. Plus paint a picture nationally of what problems there are.
  • See what vast changes across the NHS are happening, find out what the landscape looks like and what direction is it going.
  • Is it time that Hospital radio, become ‘Health Radio’ and serves a local community, rather than a site…  (This should have been done years ago when community radio licences where issued!)
  • Better levels of negotiation at a higher-level (and legal level).
    • Challenge Ofcom to support Health & Hospital Radio – Give HR’s big discounts or funding help to become small scale DAB (Mini-Mux DAB) before the community ones – OR offer solutions to partner up with community and small ILR for local DAB.
    •  Challenge PPL & PRS over licences fees (Hardwired, FM/AM, Online Fees would easily cost a HR station £1200+)
  • Consider the feasibility to pay people to run the HBA.

    Member organisations are finding it difficult to encourage and retain volunteers and find new trustees.  The HBA at a national level should consider payment (even if part time) to actually run it’s affairs.  It’s clearly struggling on Volunteer power alone. Costs can be covered via grants and commercial partnerships and sponsors…
    Here’s a free idea for the HBA:  In the ‘agreement’ (see first point above)
    have the ability for the HBA to sell Spot Advertising / Commercials, These adverts can be national (200 odd stations) or regional (Essex has around 6 HR Stations) The regional adverts could come with a donation clause to ensure station in the region receive a % to members stations to play it
    Could likely work with some some national brands and agencies.

(If any of the above is done… I’ll probably won’t receive any credit for my ideas)

So what does £50 get us? 

At the present, in the current situation – it seems very little.

The organisation as a whole is a good idea!
I’m just disappointing it’s not delivering or performing as it should.

It needs to change and modernise, but not take so long to do so.

All views here are Personal to myself, and are not those of the HBA or any of the members or charities associated.


Hay, how are you? It’s been a while…

There is no timescale or order to my postings (Or my life thinking about it).
But needless to say I’ve been busy!

The new job at LU is going well, can you believe I’ve already done three months, it feel much longer! but I’m enjoying it, everyday is something different! Commuting into inner London has given me a new appreciation of the city, I feel a desire to revisit places. I’m still slightly in awe of what a great city it is.

Sadly I’ve not had nearly as much time to volunteer at Bedrock Radio. Despite my work shifts being shorter than the buses, the commute does take a little slice out of my day. Yet the occasional Sundays I’m off, I do best to get in the studio and do Brunch live, if not, I make sure it’s recorded and ready to go!

I’m considering taking a back seat at Bedrock and debating if I should step down as a Trustee come the Annual General Meeting in 2018.
The Charity is fairly stable, the issues we’re currently facing are beyond our control, but we’re communicating with the relevant bodies. My concern is that I don’t necessarily feel supported in our future plans and developing ideas, over this year I’ve been encouraging the rest of the Trustees to embrace their posts and take ownership in how they do their role. We’ve had a history of long serving members carrying more than their own post.  – Nevertheless, I do try and keep things going.

So, how’s your love life? Mine?! … non-existent.
For a laugh, I downloaded tinder, and let a few friends loose on my profile for a laugh, It really doesn’t work as a ‘dating’ tool. (Maybe I’m too picky).
Apart from that, I was talking to an ex for a little while, nothing come of it and I feel like I’m wasting my time, so stopped trying… Back to Tinder then.

Online shopping is the BEST thing on this planet… That’s a #MatFact.
So remember last year I did an EU Road Trip with Lee. When we where in Munich I tried a local German Beer, Hacker-Pshorr and I’ve been craving some, good news Amazon stock it! Now only if I could remember the name of the wine I had in Italy!

This Bus Terminates Here….

I have been driving a London Red Bus for almost two years come September. However, I’m not making it to my two year anniversary… because I am chaining jobs (again), but staying within transport!

I’m actually off to work for London Underground, not as a a driver (yet!) but as station staff, I stumbled across the vacancy on the TfL Linkedin page and thought “why not!”.

Like most jobs i’ve applied for, I had some scepticism as TfL jobs, like many high profile companies, notoriously have thousands of applicants, so it’s a long and competitive process. I applied a few months ago with a small bit of resentment when I got news I was being put on rota for the 174, in the same week I was doing spread-over (split hours) shifts. I remained optimistic, because I have the possibility of progressing and trying for operations roles fulfilling another boyhood dream of playing with a real size train set!

So I applied, a few months back and made it through the various assessments, interviews and finally the medical… and i’m off to play with the railway!

To be honest, I’m not sure if the time was right, there where a few things that interested me with the bus operations such as iBus & Service Control, plus learning a few more routes such plus the rail replacements runs…

When I was rostered for the 174, I  started highlighting problems to our management so they can take our concerns up the chain of command and get the route running right.
Now I have an opportuntiy not be missed to work for the ‘the Tube’ / TfL – Who knows if I would have got another chance?
I admit I have some sadness leaving the Buses, the team at RM made the job worthwhile, It’s left me with a feeling of ambivalance over the whole thing, which is a shame as part of me really wants to celebrate that i’m changing jobs.

I start training in a week, so I can let the excitement develop!

No more ‘This Bus Terminates Here‘. Instead; ‘Mind The Gap‘!


Switzerland: EU Road Trip

The journey from Luxembourg to Zurich was “Only 3 to 4 hours…”, according to our host as we checked out handing the keys back… In the grand scheme of things that’s not too bad, we did a lot of driving to get to Luxembourg, and we know there was way more ahead of us….

Switzerland, home of Swiss Cheese, Swiss Army Knives, that annoying film sound of music and posh watches…. We eventually rolled up to the border, whereby you’re stopped not for a passport check, but to pay road tax. A Vignette is basically a tax for using the motorways, sort of like a toll for the whole country – Not an issue, for the ammount of milage we’d be covering this would be classed as cheap compared to the french & Italian tolls.

We had another AirBnB booked just outside of Zurich in the suburb of Zollikon, Our host gave us loads of useful information and highly recommended using the public transport. We had drawn similarities to London driving when passing through Zurich, notably the lack of car-parks, most comical (Well to us) was the traffic light sequencing allowing a grand total of 4 cars through (pretty much like sitting at the lights at the A127 Ardligh Green junction).

After sorting the room out, we ventured out to the new city we found ourselves in heading the advice given about the Public Transport system we found a Bus Stop and bought a ticket, the ticket allowed us to travel across the Zurich using any local Bus or Tram for a full 24 Hours.
Buses here are more like low floor coaches, where you can board from any of the 3 doors and the drivers pretty much get on the with driving no assault screens (and they take cash) Plus the on-board information is more detailed.

A key feature of the Zurich is it’s Lake, featuring many small boats (sort of like Westcliff & Chalkwall seafront) and quite a few activities based on the lake, sadly we wasn’t spending enough time to take advantage of everything on offer. But we went of a nice walk enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of this city.

The next morning, we left early to make the journey to Milan, Most of this leg of the journey took us through the picturesque sights of the Swiss Mountains, and it was outstanding to see such natural beauty, but also the marvels of engineering in building roads, houses and railways on the side of a mounting.

We made a short stop for breakfast in a Swiss town of Beckenried, which lay beside a still water lake, despite being in the

Truely breathtaking.

Alight here for a new career.

I’m changing career….

Well sort of, I’m a man of many hats, and soon to doth another cap to my collection!

So, I’ve been in professional radio for a few years now, built up a nice afternoon show, with some fantastic loyal listeners. but the only problem with working in professional radio is the pay. Essentially your only paid for the work you do, and when your doing a few hours a day, that doesn’t add up to much, with both Time & Decades. it’s below a ‘liveable’ wage.

So I’m taking a rather bold move, I’ve applied to Stagecoach London, to become a Bus Driver.

The future Image sourced from: TFL forum

Seriously… I admit it’s quite a change, well it’s a totally different industry, but one that’s calling out for people to join it, the pay seems good for a person of my age. I’ve undergone a series of assessments, interviews and medicals. Now I just have to apply myself to passing a theory, practical and CPC tests to become qualified. The motivation is the pay and a different environment are appealing.

So next time you get on a bus… it could be me saying hello!

The radio dream isn’t over! I’m still keeping my finger in the proverbial pie, with cover shifts and production work. Plus the charity stuff! It’s just a decision, based on a realisation that I want and need to be able to move on and progress along the highway of life.

So here’s to driving a double decker bus…





Welcome to | MusicMat.Me

I’m a Radio Broadcaster, Tea Drinker, Tad on the Cheeky side.
Living and working around the London & Essex Area.
Read & hear more about my work – Mat