So what is Susy Radio all about? You might want to know something of our history, when and why we started and some of the things that happened during our 14 year history as an occasional radio station. This history was originally written in 2002, and has been revised to bring us up to the current day.
To start with, Susy is not ‘just another radio station’, it is Redhill and Reigate’s radio station. One of the most frequent comments received from listeners and advertisers of previous stations has been the lack of local editorial coverage for this area provided by existing established broadcasters.
“It has been refreshing to hear about people and places that mean something to the inhabitants of the local area.”
Based in Merstham, Susy has added to the focal point of the local community and has given it a voice.
Existing BBC and Commercial stations are not able to focus on such communities to any great degree because of the sheer size of their operation and transmission areas which hinder their effectiveness. Similarly, it could be said that local advertisers are either wasting a high percentage of their budgets, or maybe have not considered using radio at all for the same reason.
Our advertising rates are kept as low as possible and allow the small local business the opportunity to build an extremely cost-effective radio advertising campaign.
In The Beginning
The principal members of the SUSSEX SURREY RADIO GROUP (SSRG) organised both Jubilee FM in June 1994 and Trust FM in September 1995. These members have been involved in radio for many years. A number have worked on a freelance basis for other established broadcasters currently serving the local area. Others have worked, or are still working as volunteers on local hospital radio services including Radio Redhill, serving the East Surrey Hospital.
Trust FM broadcast from the Belfry Shopping Centre in support of the Children’s Trust at Tadworth Court Hospital (as it was then).
It was a tremendous success and awoke many local people to the possibilities of local community radio. Following the enormous success of both the above stations, a decision was taken to form SSRG (now Susy Radio Limited) in order to pursue a more regular series of RSL (Restricted Service Licence) stations, bringing to Redhill, Reigate and the surrounding area something sorely missing – namely true local radio.
1996 – Susy is born
During 1996, thanks to the generosity of the Belfry Shopping Centre, and its then manager, Paul Alcock, a purpose built studio was constructed within that shopping centre, and this was to be our home for nearly two years.
Susy Radio (the name SUSY comes from SUssex SurreY !), first took to the air on November 3rd, 1996 at 10am.
1996 to 1998 – ‘Live from the Belfry Shopping Centre …..’
Following the success of the initial broadcast, Susy Radio continued to broadcast roughly once every six months (the maximum permitted for an RSL station). Programmes reflected the local community the station was established to serve, with opportunities for people to play an active part in their own radio station. Susy provided details of local news, views, activities and issues. This has also given local organisations a voice with which they can make listeners aware of their needs and interests.
With each broadcast, we became more ambitious with our community involvement and charity fund-raising. Our profile was boosted by many outside broadcasts and an alliance with local news services.
1999 – On the Move
After the May 1998 broadcast, circumstances forced us to move. After doing our Christmas 1998 broadcast in a hut kindly provided by the East Surrey College, we were offered a more permanent home in the Centre of Redhill, on the second floor of the Job Centre. Our thanks go to the (then) District Manager of the employment service, Andy Mitchell for this and his support.
This was a first class location but unfortunately, it was not to last…
2000 – On the Move… again
Our central location and alliance with the Job Centre provided the opportunities for Susy to become ever more linked with the local community. However, circumstances at the Job Centre forced them to ask us to vacate the premises in March 2000. For the May 2000 broadcast, we managed to secure temporary studio space at the Oakley Youth Centre. This was shared with the area’s Youth Radio station, for whom Susy engineers have done a considerable amount of work.
2001 – Susy 531AM
As it turned out, the May 2000 broadcast was the last time Susy Radio was to be heard for a while – 14 months to be precise. It was also the last time we were heard on FM until 2008. For various reasons, including funding, it was decided that the next broadcast was to be on the AM band. Many of Susy’s members had wanted to try this out and our fairly countrified location in Merstham meant that we had the space to deploy the large aerial system needed. So it was that we came on air in August 2001 on 531kHz AM. We were somewhat worried that response would be poor, since AM is often classed as ‘second-best’ these days. We could not have been more wrong. It was quickly apparent that the signal, despite being 1 watt emrp, was carrying far and wide and parts of East Surrey that could not pick up the FM signal were becoming part of our area. Add to that DX-ers with huge receiving antennas further afield and our first 24 hour a day continuous live internet feed made listener response the best ever. The success was such that we put on another one on AM in August 2002.
- Susy has had several more broadcasts on FM and AM
- We have helped many other organizations take to the air
- We have suffered sad losses of a number of our staff
- And of course we have now, after a number of setbacks, been granted a Community Licence to broadcast across our part of Sussex and Surrey.
Watch this space for more updates and the continuation of our history.
For more pictures, see our
PHOTO GALLERY and SUSY – the early years