Mel Jaques has been a hospital radio stalwart for 25 years – and he’s planning to mark his quarter century milestone in style with an epic broadcast.
The station manager of Rotherham Hospital’s Radio Nightingale will be on air for 25 hours – one for each of his years behind the microphone – from 4pm tomorrow until Monday, with a packed schedule of special guests planned to drop by during the show.
Mel, aged 64, who presents his own three-hour show five days a week on the station, said he was ‘very excited’ about broadcasting for more than a full day – and added the station has been a big part of his life over the past two decades.
“I just love it,” he said. “I was enthusiastic in 1989 and I’m just as enthusiastic in 2014.”
Mel, who lives in Wickersley, grew up in Parson Cross, Sheffield, where he started DJ-ing as a teenager at Colley Youth Club, playing the most popular records of the mid-1960s.
He then went on to a career as an insurance salesman, but carried on working as a mobile DJ, spinning discs at parties and weddings.
“I thought I fancied having a shot at the radio and joined Radio Nightingale,” said Mel.
Famous names who have appeared on his show over the years have included singers Helen Shapiro, Sinitta and Marty Wilde, comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers, and Hi-de-Hi star Paul Shane.
Mel has also commentated on Rotherham United games for the station.
“I think hospital radio is an absolutely wonderful service - I’ve had so many letters of thanks from patients over the years,” said Mel.
“When people are away from home and their family, they don’t really know anybody, so it’s nice for them to put on their headphones and listen to music. We give them requests so it’s personal to them.”
Grandfather Mel said his partner of 15 years, Sarah, has become used to the station taking up most of his time - but admitted he’s considering retiring next year to move to Scarborough.
“I’ll be sad when it finishes, but there comes a time when you have to move on,” he added.
Among the guests on the 25-hour broadcast will be MP John Healey, Vicar of Rotherham Canon David Bliss, and lawyer Steve Smith.
n Visit www.radionightingale.org.uk to listen.