Pop-up restaurants are all the rage, pop-up galleries litter cities around the globe, pop-up theatres entertain the select few cool enough to know their whereabouts. Something you won’t have heard of if you live outside of lovely Lewes is pop-up radio. Rocket FM doesn’t describe itself as a ‘pop-up station’ but it does only operate for three weeks a year.
Like a rocket the community station takes off and before you know it goes out with a bang. Someone who’s been on board the rocket for the last six years or so is Roger Stamp, CommunityAd had the good fortune to speak to the former television sound recordist.
What’s your role and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am chair and station manager but we are a small team who organise Rocket FM once a year. We are all volunteers and we raise money from local businesses to fund an FM licence for about 3 weeks around Lewes Bonfire. Local people present the programmes which cover lots of Lewes topics as well as bonfire and lots of music both live and on CD.
How would you describe the presenting style to those readers who have yet to tune in?
We are not trying to sound like Radio 2 or Radio 4. We try to support our guest presenters to be themselves and reflect their interests on air.
Why do you think a radio station within a thriving community like Lewes is so important?
We apply and pay for an event licence from Ofcom, so our station is centered around Bonfire and local topics in the run-up to 5th November.
If you had to self-isolate tomorrow and could pick only three singles to take with you into isolation what would they be and why?
Sandy Denny – The Sea, (my favourite folk singer)
Steve Harley – Come Up and See Me (A great jolly tune!)
The De Dannan – Arrival of The Queen Of Sheeba to Galway. (I love Irish music so this is a great track)
We’ve got a bit of a thriving music scene here in East Sussex, any bands you think we should be listening out for?
Rocket FM supports The Ripple which features a lot of local talent via its YouTube Channel. Well worth checking out, it’s the creation of Steve “Snips” Parsons lovely musician who does a lot to support local bands. We have a thriving folk music scene in Lewes, Valmai Goodyear runs the Lewes Saturday Folk Club which takes place upstairs every Saturday at The Elephant and Castle.
Why do you think radio is still such an effective broadcasting medium and saw such a big resurgence during the lockdown days?
I love radio because sound can transport you to other worlds. At Rocket FM we try to bring a flavour of 5th of November to all the people who love Lewes but can’t be here in person. Listeners tune in via the web from all over the world!
As it’s that time of year, tell us what makes Lewes a special place at Christmas time?
This is a great town, lots of small businesses, beautiful Castle, and a lively community.
Anything else at all you would like to add please feel free?
Sadly this year and last things have been very tough for everyone because of COVID, so we have not been able to run our usual FM Station.
This year we broadcast our 5th November coverage from the War Memorial via our YouTube channel Rocket FM Lewes. But hopefully we will return with our usual quirky mix next year!