Southern Sound Radio began broadcasting to Sussex in the UK on the 29th August 1983. The studios were based at Franklin Road, Portslade near Brighton. Southern Sound was originally on 1332 KHz (225 metres) MW and 103.4 FM. The MW frequency changed to 1323 KHz (227 metres) not long after the opening. The first presenter on air was Louis Robinson. Other early presenters included Sean Bolger, Peter Young, Jim Hawkins, Howard Pearce and Russ Williams.
Radio Mercury and Southern Sound shared some of their programmes during the early days including the Timbo Show in the evenings. This was a madcap show aimed mainly at young teenagers but was listened to by all ages! Timbo (Tim Lloyd) alternated presenting the show for about six months at a time swapping from Southern Sound to Mercury. He continued doing that for a few years before helping with the launch of BBC Essex. The commercial breaks on each station never lasted the same amount of time so at the end of the breaks, three different pieces of fill-in music were used to prevent a deadly silence being heard. These can be heard on our Audio file page as well as Timbo's own jingles done by various people including the Back Room Boys in Brighton. And who can forget the sound effects for the quiz questions. Does the "Screaming Loo" ring any bells? Click here to see the Timbo Poster.
On the odd occasion when Timbo was away, Tommy Boyd stood in and the programme was just as crazy. After a while, Tommy was on air every Sunday night with a similar type of show. This show consisted of phone-ins and chat with perhaps the odd strange record. The show required the help of quite a few people to answer the phones etc. David Legge (who presented "Giants" earlier in the evening) was the producer and others on the team included Nicky Keig-Shevlin (later co-host of Southern FM's breakfast show), Cathy, Steve Lawrence and Mary. When Tommy was away, Steve Lawrence would stand in. Steve (real name Gary) was also the station engineer and remained until the Portslade studios closed down. There is a Tommy Boyd Southern Sound group on Facebook which can be found here.
Towards the end of 1985 a plan to group ILR stations together and BBC local stations together meant a change in the FM frequency. Southern Sound made the big move from 103.4 to 103.5 FM! Later an extra transmitter to serve Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford opened on 96.9 FM in 1987.
New saxophone versions of the news theme together with a new package were used from 1987 until 5th February 1989. Then it was the launch of Southern Sound FM - Classic Hits. A new more powerful FM transmitter based in Heathfield was used alongside the existing transmitters. This gave better coverage of North Sussex and also served the Eastbourne area. Another service for Hastings also began broadcasting on 97.5 FM, which later changed to 102 FM. A new David Arnold/TM Century jingle package was used with UK singers. There were new studios in Eastbourne so the Brighton and Eastbourne services ran different programmes during the day. The Eastbourne studios closed down a few years later.
Sometime after the launch of Classic Hits, Southern Sound and Ocean Sound joined to form the Southern Radio Group. The jingles were re-sung for Ocean Sound with US singers and the Southern ones were re-sung too.
In 1992 Southern Sound and Ocean Sound became Southern FM and Ocean FM. A joint package of Jam jingles were used at this time until 1994. Most of those jingles were originally used on KSON, a country station in the US.
The AM services of Southern and Ocean were known as South Coast Radio and broadcast from the Portslade studios. South Coast had Jam KOST jingles sung with the UK Alfasound singers.
The Southern Radio Group was taken over by Capital Radio who ended up closing South Coast Radio. They replaced it with their own AM network (Capital Gold). During the 1990's another AM transmitter was put on air from Bexhill to serve East Sussex more clearly on 945 KHz.
In May 2005 the Capital Radio Group and the GWR Group merged to form GCap Media. In 2007 Capital Gold was renamed to Gold Radio. GCap Media, Chrysalis Radio, GCap Media and GMG Radio merged to form Global Radio in October 2008. Southern FM was re-branded to Heart Sussex in June 2009. The AM service switched from Gold Radio to Smooth Radio in March 2014. In June 2019 the Portslade studios closed with operations moving to Fareham. Breakfast and weekend shows were replaced with networked programes from London.
There is an excellent tribute site where you can listen NOW to Southern Sound FM live:
Check out the excellent History of Independent Local Radio group on Facebook here.
Copyright © 2000-2020 Sean Saunders