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|Slogan||Your University Soundtrack|
|First air date||1995|
Forge Radio (formerly named Sure Radio) is the student radio station of the University of Sheffield. It broadcasts during term time on the Internet and throughout the Students' Union, catering for a varied taste in music. Weekday daytime is playlisted; evenings and weekends are open to specialist shows, which provide an upfront variety of music.
The station was under the name of "Sure Radio" until the union's media and broadcasting were rebranded under the name of Forge Radio, Forge Press and Forge TV respectively.
Forge Radio was founded (under the name of Sure Radio) in 1995 as a student society at Sheffield Union by Helen Grimes, with Jenny Thornton as Head of Music. The station followed in the footsteps of Forge FM; a station jointly run by students and the local community broadcasting from University House, which moved out of the students' union to become an independent organisation in 1994. The original aim of Sure Radio was to broadcast 4-week FM "RSL" broadcasts twice a year, and to become a self-sufficient organisation. It broadcast to the city of Sheffield, and to travellers driving along a small stretch of the M1.
When the station was founded, no studio or broadcasting equipment existed in the union; many students joined up and paid society fees, to work on a radio station that didn't exist. It was this commitment that impressed the union's sabbatical officers and after long discussions with the Students' Union, a home was found in a small room above the Interval Café Bar.
Early success came with the first FM broadcasts, funded entirely through advertising and sponsorship raised by the team. Nominations followed in the 1998 Student Radio Awards (sponsored by BBC Radio One) for James Horspool (Best Production) and Rick Webber (Best Male Presenter).
In 1998, the station hosted The Student Radio Association conference, with numerous workshops, discussions and talks. Radio One's Chris Moyles visited the conference to launch the awards and take questions.
In 1999, the station broadcast live for a whole day from a large local pub in Sheffield city centre, The Cavendish.
The original committee ran the station successfully until many of them graduated and left university and thus the station, in the summer of 1999. Many of the original society members are now working in commercial radio, BBC radio, journalism and related broadcasting/media companies. James Horspool (Roberts) later became a successful radio producer at Viking FM, earning nominations in the 2004 industry awards, the Sony Awards; he lost to Terry Wogan.
Sure FM expanded gradually, becoming a "Working Committee" of the Students' Union; no longer a society but a part of the organisation providing services to all of its members. Sure's DJs graced the union bars, and regular participated in liaisons with the city's clubs. It built up a regular listener base of local residents and students, and cemented itself in the Sheffield community.
In 2000, Sure FM was awarded Student Radio Station of the Year by College Music Update, with Dan Morfitt also being nominated as Best Head of Music. Later that year, Dan also received a nomination at the Student Radio Awards. Sure then made the national news in February 2001, including ITN's News At Ten and BBC Radio One's Newsbeat, for being banned from playing any music by Eminem by the University of Sheffield Union of Students. Although not broadcasting at the time of the controversy, Sure took the unilateral step of breaking the ban during its next broadcast on FM, for which it was duly fined by the Union.
In subsequent years, the station's equipment began to show signs of ageing and with the loss of the Station Manager in December 2004, Sure Radio had reached a pivotal point in its life. The Winter 2004 FM Broadcast saw advertising contracts fall through, and the Students' Union was left footing a large bill to bail the station out – something that was never intended by Sure's founders. The previous summer had also seen a possible bid for a full-time Community FM broadcast (a joint venture between Sure and Sheffield Hallam University's Union) fall through, and disillusioned the majority of Sure's management – many of whom decided to move on.
The beginning of 2005 saw a takeover by a new committee, which would change the face of the station. Jointly led by Oliver Quinlan and Simon Hunt, Sure capitalised on new technology and became a full-time internet station broadcasting across the University of Sheffield Union of Students and the web. This provided a full-time radio service to Sheffield students for the first time in its history. Full-time broadcasting allowed continuing development of the quality of programming on sure, which was acknowledged by a nomination for Oli Q at the Student Radio Awards
A revamp of the radio studio increased the quality of Sure's output, increasing listenership and leading to the visit of BBC 6 Music and Phill Jupitus on 7 December 2005. Sure's continued success was shown by the creation of a new website on 5 February 2006. Membership of Sure expanded greatly during 2005 to accommodate over 250 members, working at different levels and ensuring the continued expansion of the station.
The 2008-2009 committee left the station in arguably one of the strongest positions it had ever been. Following the merger with The Steel Press and Sheffield Base during the infancy of their term, the subsequent rebranding of the station and publicity drive (including the charity Christmas single and a notable outside broadcast covering the Students' Union 2009 Officer elections), coupled with the expansion of broadcasting radius (four physical locations in addition to online) ensured listener figures rose dramatically and fresh advertising contracts generated. The station also formed its first ever men's football team, which competed in the university's intramural football league.
In October 2009, Jen Carr (Head of Music 2008/09, Station Manager 2009/10) was nominated for Best Female Presenter at the Student Radio Awards, in the process gaining the station's first nomination at the awards since Oli Q back in 2005. A year later, the station received two nominations with Dale Wetter gaining a nomination for Best Male Presenter and Sam Moir for Best Specialist Music Programming.
To cater for increased demand, the 2011–2012 Committee revamped the schedule to re-adjust shows to one hour in length, opening up more opportunities to get involved. Shows increased from around 60 to 132 per week, with some pre-records during times in which the Students' Union was closed.
Outside broadcasts during this year became more frequent, with a 24-hour broadcast from the Union foyer for RAGathon (the 24-hour RAG event) as well as the first live shows from Endcliffe village, Freshers' Fair and Ultimate Fair.
Playout and listenership increased with the introduction of greater streaming opportunities and playout across campus with an agreement reached with New Leaf in the Students' Union
The success of this year was recognised on several occasions; the station was awarded 'Best Working Committee' by the Students' Union, as well as receiving a nomination in the category of Best Student Radio Chart Show at the Student Radio Awards. Furthermore, Forge Media as a whole won the award for Best Student Media at the 2012 National Union of Students Awards.
The start of the 2012-2013 academic year saw Forge Radio undertake an ambitious project of 7 outside broadcasts in 7 days, across a variety of venues on campus. The station also extended its broadcasting hours beyond the constraints of the Students' Union opening times with a pre-record schedule, meaning original content was broadcast from 7am-3am every day and shows broadcast 24/7.
In a move to further the station's presence in Sheffield, Autumn 2012 saw the launch of the 'Forge Presents...' live night, which began as a fortnightly event held in the Nottingham House pub featuring bands and Forge DJs. With the support of the Students' Union ENTS department, the project was soon taken on as an official Union night, realising a long-term dream of the station. Forge Presents... has gone on to provide gigs in association with Jack Daniels, and, in June 2013, also acted as a sponsor for the Students' Union's first student run music festival, Contours.
January 2013 saw a further rise in record membership numbers, as the schedule was expanded to over 140 shows. Spring semester highlights included a Late Breakfast show special featuring Kate Nash, and a News Desk special featuring live coverage of an English Defence League march and subsequent protests. An interview with the EDL leader Tommy Robinson trended nationally and was Forge Radio's most listened to interview to date.
In May 2013, Forge Radio became the first ever committee to retain the Students' Union's 'Best Working Committee' award. There was also a nomination for Best Event for Forge Presents... and committee members Georgina Beardmore and Ollie Turner were recognised with Gold Outstanding Contributions to Committee Awards. Station Manager for 2012-13 James Kenny also won 'Best Committee Chair' to cap off a great award's night for Forge Radio.
The station is run by a team of 19 volunteers, who are elected by the station's members each year at the Annual General Meeting, normally held in March–April.
- "Student ban for Eminem". BBC News. 1 February 2001.
- http://www.studentradio.org.uk/awards/2005/nominations/ Student Radio award nominations 2005
- University of Sheffield, Press release from 17 November 2008.
- National Union of Students Awards
- http://shef.ac.uk/union/get-involved/societies/awards/ Sheffield Students' Union Activities Awards Winners
- http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/awards/the-finalists/#beststudentmedia Best Student Media Award Winners NUS Awards 2012