At Children’s Hospital Colorado, healing comes in many forms. Seacrest Studios, which opened in June 2014, is designed to heal and lift the spirits of patients. It is a 1,000-square-foot in-house radio station located off the main lobby where patients can participate in or host live shows that stream on channel BBOY 45, named after the hospital’s mascot, Balloon Boy. The show airs 10am to 3pm Monday through Friday to patient rooms and waiting areas throughout the hospital.
“The studio heals your heart and your soul and your mental health,” says Chris Coleman, the studio manager.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation funded a handful of these studios at children’s hospitals nationwide. Unlike most radio studios with 10-year-old coffee cups and dark lighting, Seacrest Studios is high-tech, bright and inviting, and very sanitary. The space is dedicated purely to fun.
“We figure these kids’ lives right now are inundated with beeps, cords, IV poles, numbers and tests, so we keep this space as nonmedical as possible because it’s all about escape and fun,” Coleman says.
Coleman has been with the operation since the beginning. He and his co-director and child life specialist Cody Hudson come up with all the daily programming, which they make sure is always interactive rather than observational so kids are involved in every show. The programming ranges from game shows to performances to celebrity interviews. Ed Sheeran, Missy Franklin and Gavin Degraw have all visited the studio. Hudson or Coleman introduces the celebrity, but then patients ask all the questions.
“Kids say whatever is on the top of their minds. Like the Deep Thoughts skit on Saturday Night Live that said, ‘A child’s face says it all, especially the mouth part,’” Coleman says. Of course there is the occasional whacky comment on air, like one patient who said to Missy Franklin, “You know, I have a leaky bladder,” which Coleman immediately followed with, “OK, let’s play a quick game!”
Coleman and Hudson improvise a lot to keep the conversation moving and quickly accommodate patient requests on air. They encourage kids to get as creative as they want. Coleman and Hudson have had pies chucked in their faces on a slow-motion camera. They’ve made up games with Broncos players where they jump really fast this way, and then turn, and jump really fast another way. “Pretty soon we were all sweating and very competitive,” Coleman says and laughs.
Patients also have the opportunity to come up with their own regular shows. Each week features Eric’s baseball show, Elizabeth’s superhero spotlight, and Carter’s bug show complete with a singing bug duo.
Some families who fly in to the hospital for treatment have scheduled their visits around the radio programs. One mother could not get her son to get on the plane to go to the hospital until the Seacrest Studios opened and now he can’t wait to visit. These are the types of stories that remind Coleman and Hudson why they love what they do. “I have the privilege of helping these people get through a tough time so I have no choice but to smile,” Hudson says.
There is a lot of smiling and laughing in this studio, not just kids but adults as well. To see more photos or watch videos of celebrity interviews, visit the Children’s Hospital Colorado YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/thechildrenshospital/videos.