The University of Southampton began broadcasting as a pirate radio station in the Autumn of 1976, which transitioned into a legal radio station by the Spring of 1977.
Originally known as ‘Radio Heffalump’ then ‘Radio Glen’, as the initial broadcast was based in a studio within the ‘F-Block’ of Glen Eyre Halls. Transmitting on AM by means of induction-loop systems installed on building rooftops on 963, and later on 1602, kHz.
During the early 1980s, substantial developments entailed the construction of Studio 2 and the establishment of a consistent student news service, a programme schedule and music library. Studio 1 was refurbished with a student-built mixer, cartridge machines and a sung jingle package. Henry Walmsley, Former Chief Engineer for Radio Glen, built much of the equipment that is still used everyday by our DJs. Evidence of his hard work remains visible across the station, although much has been heavily modified by subsequent station technicians.
In 1998, the station relocated to New Terrace. Station manager, David Holroyd aka ‘Wiggy’ decided to get a new license for a Long Term LPAM RSL in 1999. In 2000, Radio Glen began broadcasting on 1287 AM to reach a broader audience, beyond Glen Eyre Halls residents. In 2001, the station was re-branded as SURGE, an acronym of Southampton University Radio from Glen Eyre, due to the increased involvement in the station from the rest of the university.
2001 was another momentous year for the station. As in alliance with the Students’ Union, we were given the opportunity to run a month long FM RSL, essentially a license to broadcast on FM for up to one month. This enabled us to be heard across the whole of Southampton, and as far as Winchester and the Isle of Wight. We have run an FM RSL annually since then, usually broadcasting on 87.7 FM and using it as an opportunity to showcase our best talent!
Around the same time, we began to broadcast online, initially using equipment funded by the School of Electronics and Computer Science. Since then our web streams have grown in popularity, which has led us to explore new trends, such as podcasting.
In 2003, Surge was won its first Student Radio Award, awarded by the UK Student Radio Association. Station Webmaster, Nicholas Humfrey received the Technical Innovation Award for his ‘Total Request’ system, alongside awarded silver in the ‘Website of the Year’ category.
In 2004, Surge News was founded by James Laidler, and in 2005 won first place in the SRA News & Talk category, with Nick Bevan picking up Surge’s third award, for ‘Newcomer of the Year’.
In June 2005, Surge successfully received funding of £25,000 from SUSU for construction of a new studio in the Students’ Union building on the University’s Highfield Campus, which was completed and launched in October.
In April 2006 the station hosted the Student Radio Conference, and in June hosted the BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show with Phill Jupitus. Surge picked up an award for Best Entertainment Show in November 2006, when Nick Bevan, Thomas Morgan and Zander Bell won with “The Nick & Mogs Show”.
In 2010, Surge became an online only station due to the AM transmitter breaking. This has provided us with the opportunity to focus on our online broadcasts, and makes our limited FM periods that extra bit more special!
In the 2011, Student Radio Awards Surge’s Technical Manager, Ben Morton received two nominations for the station, both in the category of Best Technical Achievement; he won the silver award at the ceremony for his work on the Surge Facebook application.
Surge celebrated its 40th birthday in February 2016.
In February 2017, a rare Beatle (BTR-3) reel to reel tape recorder, previously used at Abbey Road Studios in the 1960s, was found by members of the Surge committee in their old Glen Eyre Halls studio. It has been suggested that two were brought to Surge from BBC London during a clear out. Apparently, The Beatles recorded some tracks on it, this may have originated in the fact that EMI manufactured the machines. The BTR-3 was donated to Abbey Road in April 2017, and in exchange, Surge were invited to broadcast from their new ‘Front Room’ studio. This made Surge the first group to use the Front Room studio, and the first student radio station to ever broadcast from Abbey Road Studios. The broadcast took place on Thursday 13 April 2017.
Since 2018, the station has officially been known as Surge Radio, distancing itself from the original acronym SURGE.
Surge Radio was rebranded during the spring semester of 2019. The rebrand entailed a new website, logo and logo icons, led and designed by Zanoobia Butt, Head of Design 2018/19. Much gratitude goes the 2018/19 Committee and design team for their support and contributions to the project during the spring semester. The new website went live in July 2019 and was shortlisted for ‘Best Station Branding’ by SRA, Global Radio & BBC Radio 1 in November 2019.