Graham Ford memories
Graham Ford not reading the news
531 kHz transmitter
I thought it was time to add some of my own memories of Susy Radio. I used to vist some of the earlier RSL's in Redhill and sometimes sit in on programmes. In 2002 I was in between jobs and Colin Pearse of SSRG (Sussex Surrey Radio Group) which operated the station knew of my enthusiam and suggested that as I had a reasonble voice and very good diction would I like to be a newsreader? Well this was a good way to get a foot in so I agreed. So I did news bulletins mainly on breakfast and sometimes on afternoon drive. This way it didn't interfere with my jobhunting so that kept the authorities happy. Broadcasts were coming from the Oakley Youth Centre at Earlswood the studios being in the third floor attic. There was one complete studio (Largely built by SSRG/Susy Radio) and another large adjacent room which had a Teletext TV and minidisc recorder. Bulletins were complied off teletext and pre-recorded so the news wasn't live but sounded as such. I did the morning shift from 7am to 10am. We had a good system and the use of minidisc meant that stories could be edited out and replaced and move up or down the agenda thoughout the day depending on the importance. My first newscasting also co-incided with the infmaous Soham murders so it was a baptism of fire and I was very glad we pre-recorded the news. I also on a couple of breakfast shows read articles out from the newspaper and tried to be a good support to the breakfast DJ We followed strict guidelines on our news stories and, in the case of the Soham murders waited for the BBC to announce that Kevin Huntley was the prime suspect before we did. This applied to all news stories that we carried) as a broadcaster we erred on the side of caution. Getting it wrong could have left us at the mercy of Ofcom and threats of fines. Broadcasts at the time were on 531 kHz and very strong at my locale a few miles away.
I did eventually move on from presenting the news which I did for a few years either at breakfast time or the late afternoon / early evening slot.. One year I stayed overnight on the Saturday/Sunday morning. We relayed a few hours from the local nightclub and they were short of a poor soul one week to switch over so we could carry Radio Jackie as our morning sustaining service from 2am. For this effort I was rewarded with a one hour show from 6 to 7am before the breakfast presenter arrived. OK I had to go downstairs and let him in! So that meant queuing up a couple of long tracks on the computrer as I wasn't very fast with stairs in those days and far slower now.
We did one broadcast on FM from the RNIB facillities at Redstone Hill. Here a studio block had been built with what seemed to be very well equiped studios. Our engineers were not impressed with the standard of audio cabling. The shielding was far from broadcast standard. As there were students there we all had to be CRB cleared and we weren't allowed to take any photos. One evening a gap appeared in the schedule and after finishing my news duties I did a 2 hour broadcast at very little notice. Quite interesting going over to me reading the pre-recorded news. John the engineer called me up and asked me to chat more about the music so I lined up a Joss Stone track (at that time far more succesful in the US and ignored by much UK media) and put up a bit of background info on her. This was on one of our FM broadcasts. and lasted a couple of weeks. Ofcom charging more for FM than AM.
It was a while before I got my own show. In 2005 Colin decicded to go for a "Hot Country" format and not all the presenters were keen on this. Well, I am not an expert but have a wide appreciation of music so I volunteered and with Mr B co-presenting some weeks! I got into a group called Lone Star doing the shows and had an excellent CD of music from the TV series Due South which I featured. Plus classic country tracks. Colin would venture into the studio early Sunday mornings and mix up the CD's and add some new ones (all music that year was off our country CD music library or the presenters own.) Colin got me playing some very odd tracks. All the Susy CD's had tracks highlighted to show which ones fitted the format. Highlighted in yellow, orange or pink. I think these indicated fast, classic and some slower tracks. Don't play too many slow country tracks. but one of our more regular DJs did as some form of protest! WEvwere also banned from plaing rhe country rock Hotel California by the Eagles as it was being over played.
Aftr this I secured the Sunday morning breakfast slot for the next couple of 531 RSLs with our mixed format. Now I wasn't a brilliant presenter but it varied across the weeks and I enjoyed pulling in info / stories that other broadcasters didn't bother with. I did a tabloid challenge using just The Times and The Daily Telegraph to get these from plus a few other more odd souces and not he uusual tabloids.
The RSLs were always very enjoyable. We had an excellent crew. One morning I stayed in and assisted Stuart who was registered as legally blind and assisted him. To be honest I was amazed as to how he handled the equipment given his condition. I helped him with timing of the news and adverts. We used to end our transmissions with a barbeque night. Many of the station staff would gather to chat eat and drink and meet some interesting people who would drop in.