BBC Surrey is the BBC Local Radio service covering the English county of Surrey, along with North-East Hampshire and the northern fringes of West Sussex including Crawley, East Grinstead and Gatwick Airport. It began on 14 November 1991 under the name BBC Radio Surrey, later becoming part of BBC Southern Counties Radio, before adopting its present name on 30 March 2009.
BBC Surrey's studios are based on the campus of the University of Surrey in Guildford. It broadcasts programming specifically for Surrey and North-East Hampshire weekdays from 6-9am and 5-6pm, and on Saturdays from 6-9am and 2-6pm. Some other programmes broadcast on both BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey are also broadcast from the Guildford studios. There are also dedicated news bulletins for Surrey on the hour at some times of the day. The remainder of the station's output is shared with BBC Sussex.
BBC Surrey is transmitted on 104 and 104.6 FM, and on DAB via the MuxCo Surrey multiplex, which officially launched on 12 December 2013. It has also been available on BBC iPlayer since 2 September 2009.Analogue VHF FM
104.0 MHz - Reigate & Crawley (Reigate Transmitter)
104.6 MHz - Guildford (Guildford Transmitter)
Analogue Mediumwave AM
1368 kHz - Reigate & Crawley (Duxhurst Transmitter)
DAB Digital Radio: Block 10C 213.36 MHz
Reigate & Crawley (Reigate Transmitter)
Guildford (Guildford Transmitter)
South West London (Crystal Palace Transmitter)
Farnham (Hungry Hill Transmitter)
Leatherhead (Stoke d'Abernon Transmitter)
In the late 1980s, with the BBC Local Radio network nearing completion, a management team was appointed for 'BBC Radio Surrey and Berkshire', the plan being to have two separate stations with their own identities, but with shared resources, and some shared programming. But then in 1990, as part of a plan to save £3 million, the BBC announced that BBC Radio Surrey would instead launch as an opt-out service of BBC Radio Sussex, with BBC Radio Berkshire an opt-out of BBC Radio Oxford.
BBC Radio Surrey went on air initially on Saturday 6 September 1991 for coverage of a cricket match between Surrey and Hampshire - this was simply a relay of Radio Solent's coverage. The station finally went on air officially at 6.00am on Thursday 14 November 1991. At launch it broadcast 43 hours a week of its own programming from its studios on the campus of the University of Surrey in Guildford. The remainder of the output came from either its sister station BBC Radio Sussex, or from the BBC South & East network.
Just over a week after launch BBC Radio Surrey presented its first Children in Need programme, and breakfast presenter John Terrett and travel reporter Christina King also made a brief appearance on the South East section of the television coverage. However the station was to receive little more in the way of promotion thereafter.
Over its two years on air BBC Radio Surrey struggled to build a substantial audience; in fact audience figures reached a maximum of only 29,000, or 7 per cent reach, in 1993. One factor in this was that the output was broadcast by only one transmitter at Guildford, covering West Surrey on 104.6 FM, meaning listeners in East Surrey could not hear the station properly (Although at the time of establishing the station, there was the possibility of it getting the 1350AM frequency to also broadcast on). Another was the fact that the county's ILR stations were already long-established, making it difficult for the new station to establish itself.
John Terrett hosted the breakfast show from launch, which featured regular reports from the station's own dedicated travel presenter Christina King. It was followed by Julian Clegg's mid-morning phone-in, which was simulcast with BBC Radio Sussex - although news and travel bulletins were split between the two stations every hour throughout the day. The joint output avoided mentioning the name of either station; instead full use was made of split jingles. At midday Steve Watts hosted the hour-long 'Watts for Lunch' which featured celebrity guests, local topics, and the Weather Wardens, made up of listener-correspondents from across the county, who also brought unusual facts and history about their corner of Surrey. Following Miranda Birch's consumer show from Brighton, the final daily programme from Guildford was Drivetime with Claire Paul, although since she was also station editor she was absent from the show more often than not. Charles Carroll, Mike Carson and Radio Sussex's Stewart Macintosh were the usual stand-ins. In the early days Christina King also presented travel reports during this show as well.
There were three weekend programmes from Guildford - Steve Watts's light-hearted Saturday show which included a pub team quiz; the religious programme Sunday Best; and Nick Simmons's laid back Sunday morning show of music and chat.
In October 1992, John Terrett and Claire Paul left, so Stewart Macintosh took over the lunchtime show (while continuing to present BBC Radio Sussex's breakfast show) and Tim Humphrey moved to breakfast, while Steve Watts moved to Drivetime. Jonathan Wills, later a presenter on ITV's London Tonight, joined the station, first as a travel presenter, before moving on to news reading and then sports presenting. During 1993 Phil Kennedy became a regular stand-in on BBC Radio Surrey's Drivetime and lunchtime shows.
Following schedule changes in July 1993, BBC Radio Surrey was gradually wound down. From September the station was identified on air as 'BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey', although some programmes remained split between the two counties. The merger was complete on 7 January 1994 when BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey officially became a single station.
On 1 August 1994 the station's name was changed to BBC Southern Counties Radio. At first it ran a single all-talk schedule across Sussex and Surrey, however in September 1997 a dedicated breakfast show for Surrey was reintroduced, followed by a drivetime show in April 2006. Apart from a brief period in 2006, the former BBC Radio Sussex transmitter at Reigate on 104.0 FM was now used for the Surrey output, in order to give better reception for listeners in East Surrey.
The county name returned to the radio station's name on 30 March 2009, when BBC Surrey became the new name for BBC Southern Counties Radio across Surrey, North-East Hampshire and Crawley, broadcasting on 104.0 and 104.6 FM. BBC Surrey and its sister station BBC Sussex continue effectively to operate as one station, with no change in management or infrastructure from its predecessor.
During off-peak hours, BBC Surrey also carries regional programming for the South and South East regions, produced from sister stations BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Kent. 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 Surrey simulcasts BBC Radio 5 Live overnight.