University Radio Essex (URE) or as it’s known now, Rebel Radio, has been a huge part of student life at the University of Essex since its inception in 1971.  

For the last eight years, the Rebel team has hosted an annual radio marathon, a 50-hour continuous stream in aid of a charity. This year, to mark the University’s 60th anniversary, they upped their target to 60 hours with the marathon running from 15 to 18 February.  

To fill those extra hours, they wanted to speak to graduates about their time at Essex. A trip down memory lane.

After putting out a request for volunteers in our Essex Alumni Facebook Group, we were pleased to receive a virtual ‘hands up’ from several graduates who were eager to be part of the action.

URE office and radio transmitter

Most of those who volunteered were also involved with the radio during their student days and were excited to lend a hand and back the student radio that so many alumni cite as the highlight of their time at Essex. Some of them even dug out samples of their radio shows from the 1970s. What a throwback!

On the day, six alumni logged in to Zoom to connect with Rebekah Froggat, the student leading the marathon and chatted for hours about life at Essex during the various years they studied here, from 1973 to 2014. Among them were Andrew Wright, Anna Wilson, Crispin Hodges, Deborah Davies, Ken Salmon and Will Jackson. All URE super fans.

Watch the marathon here, with alumni interviews from 36:04:24 to 41:32:14. 

Many of the alumni who took part didn’t leave radio behind when they graduated, for some it played a formative part of their time at Essex and led to successful careers in broadcasting. Ken Salmon (Computer Systems, 1974) joined us and was a member of University Radio Essex (URE) between 1972 and 1974, when it broadcast to the campus via an induction loop system on 301m in the MW band. He presented at least one show a week, sometimes up to three a week. After he left Essex, he continued broadcasting as a hobby with Hospital Radio Reading between 1974 and 1995.

Will Jackson also joined us (Government, 1989). URE Programme Controller between 1987 and 1989, he was later awarded honorary life membership of the Student Radio Association for his work. Taking these experiences into his career, he now works for WorldDAB - the global industry forum for DAB digital radio and is a trustee of industry charity, Radio Academy.

Will Jackson presenting on the URE

Thank you to the alumni who volunteered their time to support our students with the Rebel Radio Marathon. You helped to raise £850 for local charity, Beacon House, and gave our graduates a nostalgic look back at their life at the University of Essex.