A decade on air for Uckfield FM

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Uckfield’s own radio station celebrates its 10th year of broadcasting next month.

Uckfield FM first went on air in the summer of 2003 as the voice of the Uckfield Festival - the town’s hugely popular arts, music and dance festival which takes place each July.

Founders Alan French, Mike Skinner, Gary King and Paddy Rae first came up with the idea the Festival and the community as a whole would benefit from a dedicated radio station.

They started life borrowing windowless office space above the Uckfield Picture House in the High Street.

Katie Connor, year 10 student at Uckfield Community Technology College, designed the logo which is still in use and Gary King took the station live at 8am on Monday, July 7, 2003.

The first schedule included names who have been with Uckfield FM since the beginning: Mike Ziolek (now on the board of directors), Tony Williams, Jon Royle and Martyn Grenfell. Original Founders Gary King and Mike Skinner are also board members as business development manager and chairman respectively.

Natalie Booker, from BBC South East Today, cut the cake in the foyer of the cinema, as members of the team celebrated its launch in the July sunshine.

Detailed planning, advertising and business support in the town saw a four-week restricted service licence (RSL) granted, and the station was back on air 12 months later but broadcasting live for only four weeks of the year.

The team kept its profile alive in the community by attending various events even when they were not broadcasting.

The 28-day broadcast in 2006 was the last from The Picture House. A move to the current studio at Bird in Eye Farm took place in 2007, followed by the creation of a Uckfield Community Radio Limited.

The final RSL broadcast was in 2009 when the station heard its application to become a full-time broadcaster had been accepted by OFCOM with a frequency of 105.0FM.

The studio at Bird in Eye was updated in 2010 and on July 1 Mike, Gary and town mayor Cllr John Carvey declared the station officially open.

Famous guests include two Miss Great Britain finalists, Dame Beryl Grey, legendary cricket commentator Henry Blofeld and local resident, station supporter John ‘Boggy’ Marsh from Radio 2, Frank Korda and Frank Allen from The Searchers and legendary singer Frank Ifield who co-presented a show for three hours last year.