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The Gallery - A little story about Red Dot Radio

How to build a radio station

....A long, long time ago.

In a far off place called the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Hospital, a radio station was built. This is the story of the birth of that radio station - Red Dot Radio (E.H.B.S.). This studio took many months to build and claimed the social lifes of many brave volunteers, some of whom have never really recovered.

It all began in June 1989, with the Hospital donating some old bomb shelter .....

(Click a picture to see a bigger version. Select 'Back' after viewing the picture.)

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At first sight, the building was totally unsuitable for the purposes of a radio station. Lots of small interlinked rooms with little or no soundproofing between them.

During this phase, many tons of rubbish were generated all of which was carried out of the building to be taken away in skips.

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While in the process of demolishing the interior walls, a serious damp problem was discovered along the entire back wall of the building which required damp proofing treatment before further work could be undertaken. Even after a damp proof course was installed, the problem still persisted and a trench was dug around 3 sides of the building to alleviate the problem. This hold-up added another 3 months to the time the whole project was to take.

Most of the interior walls were of simple wood and plaster-board construction, but one or two were solid brick and concrete necessitating the use of more ambitious wrecking equipment!

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The end result was an empty shell measuring some 100 feet long by only 8 feet wide - more resembling a single lane bowling alley than a modern radio studio!

Once the inside of the building had been completely cleared, a chemical damp proof course was installed along the entire length of the building. This was to prove a needless expense.

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At this stage, construction of the studio walls at the west end of the building had begun. There were already problems finding storage for building materials.

The ventilation pipes run the entire length of the building extracting stale air and injecting fresh air into the studios.

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The framework for the special double skinned studio walls in the early stage of construction at the west end of the building.

Both walls have alternate layers of plasterboard and fibre board which are then sealed along the edges and seams to make them completely airtight.

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Special soundproof walls were built to a BBC specification for radio studios. Two separate walls are built only inches apart to give the solid mass necessary movement to stop any noise escaping.

So much piping was installed for this purpose, that for a period of time before it was all boxed in and hidden, the building was appropriately nicknamed the Pompidou Centre.

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Most of the windows were bricked up from the inside, not only to increase the soundproofing in the studio areas, but also to improve the security of the building.

Completely new electrical wiring was installed throughout the building with separate circuits for lighting and heating with special extra circuits for the broadcasting equipment.

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The floors in each room were laid on special sound absorbing material which help to reduce the transmission of noise between different rooms.

Dense slabs of soundproofing material, which would later be covered with decorative hessian panels, were secured to the walls in the studios and cubicles.

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An essential feature of radio studios is a ventilation system. Here, the main input and output pipes have been fitted to provide an efficient flow of fresh air to the building.

Finally, double glazed units were fitted into the window apertures in both walls and these too were carefully sealed with mastic to ensure an airtight fit.

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Dense slabs of soundproofing material, which would later be covered with decorative hessian panels, were secured to the walls in the studios and cubicles.

Special soundproofing panels were manufactured to cover the ceilings and walls in the studio areas. The first step was to make sure the hessian material was wrinkle free.

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The next step was to stretch the hessian tightly over a wooden frame and staple it securely in place.

Finally the frame was drilled and secured to the walls and ceilings in the exact position to cover the dense slabs of soundproofing material which had been positioned earlier.

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Drilling the frames for the hessian.

The work needed on the building either sharpened some of our members' skills or gave them good practice for the next time they indulged in DIY at home!

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Record shelves, custom built by two of our members in a garage, were installed in the office cum record library ready to receive the E.H.B.S. record collection.

With all the construction work, electrical work and decorating etc. finished, the last remaining task is to install and wire up all the broadcasting equipment in the studios.

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New sound mixing desks, although professionally made, still require a great deal of work to adapt them for the unique demands of hospital radio broadcasting.

The chairman receiving a cheque from Jacqui Dove on behalf of the BT employees' charities fund for a digital disk recorder to allow high quality prerecording programmes to be produced and presented on Red Dot Radio.

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Just a few seconds after Red Dot Radio goes on-air for the very first time and the Technical Director operates the studio equipment for the presenter in the adjoining cubicle.

As the button is pressed, the red light glows to show that Red Dot Radio is finally "on-air".

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The chairman had the dubious honour of being the first programme presenter at 7pm on that first night as he presented "Across the Decades" featuring music from the 1950's.

At the end of the first night's programmes from Red Dot Radio, the team responsible pose for a well-deserved photo-call to mark the occasion.

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...And 11 years later


Chris and Rupert presenting and listening.

Just look at that slider action!


Malcolm, the technical director, and master presenter, still has control of the desk. Honestly he does have a home to go to!



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