Essex and Proud
Talk / News / Music
First air date
5 November 1986
95.3 FM, 103.5 FM, 729 AM, 765 AM, 1530 AM
BBC Essex is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Essex. It broadcasts from its studios on New London Road in Chelmsford on 95.3 (South Benfleet) and 103.5 (Great Braxted) FM, and on 729 (Manningtree), 765 (Bakers Wood), and 1530 (Rayleigh) AM. It is also available on DAB and live streaming via the internet.
BBC Essex launched on 5 November 1986. It broke from the naming convention of "BBC Radio (county name)" so as to avoid confusion with Essex Radio (later Essex FM, now Heart Essex). There had also been a pirate station called Radio Essex in the 1960s, and currently there is an independent radio station called Radio Essex.
BBC Essex set out to be different from existing BBC local stations, which were often perceived as rather "stuffy" and "worthy". It launched with a more up-beat sound, an almost "tabloid" news style and younger presenters than most stations; the BBC Essex symbol also didn't feature the traditional BBC logo. However, over the years the style has been toned down and the format is now more in line with the rest of the BBC local radio family.
Current regular weekday presenters are Rob Jelly, Sadie Nine, Ronnie Barbour, Tony Fisher and Dave Monk. The station has also seen a number of high-profile presenters pass through its doors including James Whale, Jonathan Overend (BBC Radio 5 Live), Tim 'Timbo' Lloyd (twice winner of Best Local DJ at the Sony Radio Awards), Mark Pougatch (BBC Sport), Dermot O'Leary (National radio & TV presenter) and music promoter Eric 'Monster' Hall.
According to RAJAR, as of July 2014 the station has a listenership figure of 228,000 which equates to 18% of the audience reach/
A revised programme schedule at the station occurred in September 2015 following the appointment of Lou Birt as Managing Editor in April 2015, which occurred after the previous Managing Editor, Gerald Main, who had been in that role since 2007, left in February.
The strongest signal is 103.5 FM, which comes from a small transmitter between Witham and Tiptree. It reaches into Hertfordshire. The 95.3FM signal is heard in most of the southern Thames Estuary as well. The South Benfleet transmitter also provides Essex FM on 96.3FM and DAB. The 500 ft Manningtree tower, the highest of all five, also has national radio frequencies, Absolute Radio, BBC National DAB and Digital One. It is the main FM transmitter for Radio Suffolk. The Bakers Wood transmitter also has Essex FM on 102.6FM, and is one of the DAB transmitters. DAB signals, since 20 May 2002, have come from the Essex 12D multiplex, which has transmitters at Maitland House (Southend-on-Sea town centre), Colchester, Sudbury (in Suffolk), and Rye Hill (south of Harlow - on a water tower). Rye Hill also has Ten 17 on 101.7FM.
The majority of the station's programming is produced and broadcast from their Chelmsford studios. During off-peak hours, BBC Essex also carries regional programming for the East, produced from sister stations BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and BBC Radio Northampton. As with all BBC Local Radio stations, it also airs the networked weekday evening shows, originating from BBC Radio Leeds and produced independently by Wire Free Productions. During the station's downtime, BBC Essex simulcasts BBC Radio 5 Live overnight.
Pirate BBC Essex
From 10 to 17 April 2004, BBC Essex marked the fortieth anniversary of offshore radio in Britain by launching their own ship-based radio station, Pirate BBC Essex. Broadcasting from an old light vessel, the station transmitted sixties music and memories twenty-four hours a day all week. This was followed in August 2007 by another broadcast marking the anniversary of the closing of the pirate stations by the Marine Offences Act.
Over the Easter Weekend in April 2009, the popular Pirate Radio Essex programme was resurrected by popular demand from listeners, occurring five days after the release of the comedy movie The Boat that Rocked. This was broadcast on the AM frequencies, as well as on the Internet, which resulted in many calls from as far away as New Zealand. Presenters included Johnnie Walker, Tony Blackburn, Dave Cash and Keith Skues as well as three of the station's presenters: Steve Scruton; Ian Wyatt & Ray Clark.
BBC Essex presenter Ray Clark authored a book called 'Radio Caroline: The True Story of The Boat That Rocked' which was published in early 2014. Clark retired from BBC Essex on 20 June 2014 after leaving his award winning breakfast show in February that year. Clark returned to BBC Essex in September 2015 to present a new, regular, Saturday morning show.