The history of Phoenix FM is two stories – one of trying to become a full-time FM-licenced radio station, and one of actually being being one.
The station was formed in August 1996 by a group of people whose aim was to bring a full-time radio station to Brentwood. This group all had experience in running another station, Mayflower FM – and you can read the story about that here.
Any group can run a temporary FM radio station in the UK – as long as they have the money, means and reason for doing so. These licences – RSLs (Restricted Service Licences) – allow a group to broadcast on FM for 28 days on a specially allocated frequency. It’s a good way for aspiring community radio stations to prove that they can get on air, evidence demand for their service, build audiences and so on – especially true in the days before internet radio.
The Phoenix took to the air for the first time on 29 December 1996 and over the next ten years we ran a total of 12 RSL broadcasts, including two in Basildon under the name Eastgate FM.
In 1999 we decided to change our name to Phoenix FM and in 2001 we started broadcasting online 24 hours a day – the first community radio station in the UK to do so.
We originally broadcast from the old Information Centre in 14 Ongar Road and from there we moved to the Hermitage and then Hutton Poplars Lodge.
The Radio Authority (forerunner of current radio regulator Ofcom) announced in 2004 that they would be advertising a new set of community radio licences in the UK. We applied late in 2004 and in typical regulatory fashion, waited 18 months for the adjudication. In February 2006 we received the news that Phoenix FM was going full time!
The FM years
The station moved to new studios at the Baytree Centre in Brentwood and set a launch date of 23 March 2007. We also employed a full time station manager to look after fundraising and programming.
In 2012 we moved to the Brentwood Centre and we took on a full-time Sales and Promotion Manager in 2013 to deal with increasing numbers of local businesses who wanted to sponsor shows or advertise with us.
And we’re still going strong today!