Ashdown Radio started life as Uckfield FM in the Summer of 2003
The original founders Mike Skinner, Gary King, Paddy Rea and Alan French decided at the 2002 Uckfield Festival that the festival and community as a whole would benefit from its own radio station and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Picture House in Uckfield High Street kindly let us use some space upstairs, our studio was very small (but did have a window) and we gained a Restricted Service Licence from OFCOM, allowing us to broadcast for four weeks, during the summer.
Uckfield FM first hit the airwaves at 8am on Monday 7 July 2003. Gary King was the very first voice on the station counting down a top 10 of all time voted for by local residents and supporters via our website.
From that very first schedule, Gary King and Martyn Grenfell are still on air with Ashdown Radio.
The Uckfield FM Logo was designed in 2003 by Uckfield College student Katie Connor, and was in use until Uckfield FM became Ashdown Radio in April 2022.
Natalie Booker from BBC South East Today cut the cake in the foyer of the cinema, as members of the team celebrated our launch in the July sunshine. Before we knew it, 6:00pm on Sunday 3rd August had come around and our very first broadcast was over.
We continued summer broadcasts from the Picture House until 2006.
We moved to our current home at Bird in Eye Farm in 2007, and that summer broadcast was the first from our new location. We also returned for 3 weeks at Christmas that year.
Paddy Rea sadly passed away in October 2007, with all further broadcasts continuing in his honour.
Our last summer broadcast took place in 2009, and we were awarded a licence to broadcast full time shortly afterwards.
Due to the licensing arrangements and the fact that we had a lot of preparation work to get us ready to broadcast full time, we were unable to broadcast during Christmas 2009. To make up for this, members of the team appeared at the Uckfield Carnival in September and at Late Night Shopping in December to spread the message that we would be ‘Back for Good’ in 2010.
We launched full time at 1.05pm on 1 July 2010 (to mark the frequency of 105 FM) with Gary King and Mike Skinner on air, Town Mayor John Carvey officially cut the ribbon.
Our second studio was completed in May 2011 which includes a large window with a view back towards Uckfield.
It was during July of 2018 that an expression of interest was sent to OFCOM regarding extending our area to include Heathfield and Crowborough. We received agreement to extend to Crowborough in 2021 and in early 2022 a new transmitter and aerial were installed at the offices of Crowborough Town Council at Pine Grove, we began broadcasting from here (still as Uckfield FM at this point) on 9 February 2022 using 94.7 FM.
Chairman Mike Skinner retired in May 2019 after 16 years, and handed over to current chairman Ian Smith, former Mayor and Town Councillor in Uckfield.
Our 19 years as Uckfield FM saw us speak to many guests from local organisations, many who still regularly join us on air now. Other guests over the years included two Miss Great Britain finalists, Dame Beryl Grey, legendary cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, Carlo Curley, Frank Ifield, David Hamilton, John Wheeler, Chloe Paige and Kerry Katona. Local resident and station supporter John ‘Boggy’ Marsh from Radio 2 also made regular appearances.
Ashdown Radio launched at 11am on Friday 1 April, with an event at our studios. Gary King & Ryan Millns launched the station at 11am and from 1pm, Zoe Ball joined us for the official opening.