David Rauch’s Golden Anniversary with Radio Brockley
Radio Brockley hits yet another member milestone this year, with David Rauch celebrating 50 years behind the mic in July 2021. We had a virtual sit down with David to discuss his long-standing contributions to our favourite hospital radio station.
David, with 50 years under your belt, what motivates you to continue your legacy at Radio Brockley?
It’s something I enjoy doing! If I didn’t enjoy it, I would have stopped a long time ago. In my day, a lot more people were interested in radio. There were only two channels on TV – BBC and ITV – so there wasn’t much choice of entertainment. When I was in school, the BBC had three radio channels. There was the Home Service, which is now BBC4; the Light Programme, which is now BBC2; and the Classical Service, which is now Radio 3. There was no real pop music, but then a number of illegal stations popped up broadcasting from the sea called ‘Pirate Radio’. These were the stations we used to listen to and a lot of the DJs and presenters became the founders of Radio 1. When I found out there was a station at Stanmore, I contacted one of the founding members and I’ve been here ever since.
What was your first day like, and what was the first record you played on the station?
I was shown what to do on the first day, as everyone still is. I can’t remember how long it was before I started doing things. In those days, we were only on air two days a week. We had Sunday and Wednesday programmes, and we used to do Bingo. We had reps in each ward giving out tickets and collecting requests, which we would put together for shows. The average stay in those days was three months, so waiting a week to hear your request was perfectly normal. Now – the average stay is six days, which is why we play requests immediately.
The first song I played was We’ve Only Just Begun by The Carpenters, which seemed an appropriate record to play. The first request I played was Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle Of The Road.
What’s been your biggest achievement at the station?
Lasting 50 years probably! My biggest achievement from a personal point of view was meeting my wife here, who was a patient for six months in 1976. She was in plaster from knee to shoulder, and it was a really, really hot summer. We got to know each other through requests, met up when she left the hospital and eventually got married – and we’re still together today.
From a radio point of view, doing the Bingo since the late 1980s. It was the first thing I got involved in and has had a few presenters, but someone left in 1987 and I’ve been doing it ever since. We’ve had to stop due to Covid as we can’t hand out the tickets and we’re not allowed on the wards, but we’re hoping it will come back very soon.
What’s been your biggest learning curve, and do you have any Dos and Don’ts when it comes to presenting?
I have loads, and I learned the hard way. If you listen to professional radio, there are two sorts of styles. There is the Chris Evans and Chris Moyles style, which is friendly, busy and happy. And then there is the other style, where you try and talk to the person as if it is 1-1. I am firmly of the opinion that with hospital radio, the latter is the more fitting presenting style. I try to encourage people to talk as if you are talking to one person, rather than a crowd. It works for me, and works for lots of other people when they do it. And think about what you say before you say it! We don’t want to hear a stream of consciousness.
Do you have a preference between presenting or working behind the scenes?
I like doing both. I like the variety. I have been producing programme guides since the 1980s, which is something I enjoy. I’m not an artist in any shape or form, and I am not a writer, but I do have a reasonable grasp of writing so I enjoy creating these and can be a bit of a perfectionist, spending a lot of time making the columns even. The IT stuff for the record library is also shared evenly between me and my son.
Any chance we can squeeze another 50 years out of you?
I would say that is extremely unlikely! Although I am not likely to leave any time soon. A lot has changed in the last 50 years, but what keeps me going is the quality rather than the quantity. The patients that make requests appreciate it a lot and are excited to hear their request on the radio, so that’s why I stick around.
And finally – if you had to pick just one favourite song, what would it be?
There are various songs I like for various reasons, but I don’t think there is any one song I could listen to forever. Different songs remind me of different things. Dancing Queen was one of the records I played when it first came out, and I used to run a programme after the Bingo which had that record, so it’s a song my wife and I really like. God Only Knows by The Beach Boys is another favourite. I like a lot of Motown, like the Four Tops, Diana Ross and The Jackson 5. And of course, We’ve Only Just Begun, because it reminds me of Radio Brockley.