Radio Lollipop First Anniversary
Last Thursday, crowds gathered in the lobby of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its in-hospital radio station, Radio Lollipop.Founded in 1978 at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children in Surrey, Radio Lollipop is now in children hospitals worldwide, with multiple stations in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a charitable organization geared toward entertaining children in the hospital. A team of volunteers takes turns DJ-ing, preparing arts and crafts, recruiting kids to come to the studio and producing the show.
Radio Lollipop at CHOC is the newest location, having just completed a year on air. It is one of three locations in the United States, and the first on the West Coast. However, on the day of the anniversary, no one could tell that the event was being run for the very first time. Patients, parents, friends, hospital staff and community members all swarmed the lobby. Some stood in line to buy T-shirts, while others took part in the silent auction, bidding for gift baskets that contained everything from a Buzz Lightyear TV valued at $400 to a KIIS FM basket valued at $2,000, complete with a Hannah Montana autographed CD, a Hilary Duff-signed iPod and second-row tickets to a sold-out show of ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’
The younger kids had no interest in the T-shirts or the silent auction and instead kept their noses pressed up against the glass of the studio, watching Disney celebrities get interviewed by KIIS street DJ Manny as he conducted a live feed with Ryan Seacrest at the KIIS FM headquarters in Burbank, California.
Around 10:30 a.m., everyone shuffled their way out of the lobby and to the outside of the hospital, where a stage was set up for the main event, ‘Radio Lollipop Idol,’ a spin-off of ‘American Idol.’ Patients, siblings, volunteers and faculty members all got to perform for the audience and the celebrity judges, Bryan and Selena Gomez, two Disney Channel starlets. Sabrina Bryan clapped and sang along as she watched ‘The Paradise Sisters’ perform ‘Cheetah Sisters’ from the Cheetah Girls Soundtrack. Camari, aged 11, Stefana, 10, and Armani, 8, all sang and danced to their version of the Cheetah Girls hit and wore matching black and white spotted shirts and black skirts to look like their idols.
They are at CHOC because their younger brother, Piper, 7 months, is a patient. Soon after their performance, Bryan left for dance rehearsal. She is appearing on this season’s ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and though she is used to the long hours and strenuous dance routines as a Cheetah Girl, she describes ‘Dancing with the Stars’ as in another league all together: ‘Practices are four to six hours, but I have a good partner and the time just flies. I am working so hard because I really want to win!’ She looked at me wide-eyed, ‘Vote for me please! You have to support a fellow OC-native!’
Though not nearly as popular as Bryan, Disney’s newest star, 15 yeaer old Gomez, came out to show her support. She said,
‘I used to be shy and I really want kids to know that there is nothing to be shy about. Radio Lollipop does a really good job of giving kids the confidence and the stage to show off their talents. I wish I could have done something like this growing up!’ Looking at Gomez now, you would never guess that this Dallas, Texas native used to be shy. Gomez has been working with Disney for the past two years and has guest starred in two episodes of ‘Hannah Montana’ and one episode of ‘The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.’ She was extremely excited about starring in her very first show, ‘The Wizards of Waverly Place’ (think Harry Potter