BBC Essex is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Essex. It broadcasts from its studios on New London Road inChelmsford on 95.3 (South Benfleet) and 103.5 (Great Braxted) FM, and on 729 (Manningtree), 765 (Bakers Wood), and 1530 (Rayleigh) AM. It is also available on DAB and live streaming via the internet.
BBC Essex launched on 5 November 1986. It broke from the naming convention of "BBC Radio (county name)" so as to avoid confusion with Essex Radio (later Essex FM, now Heart Essex). There had also been a pirate station called Radio Essex in the 1960s.
BBC Essex set out to be different from existing BBC local stations, which were often perceived as rather "stuffy" and "worthy". It launched with a more up-beat sound, an almost "tabloid" news style and younger presenters than most stations; the BBC Essex symbol also didn't feature the traditional BBC logo. However, over the years the style has been toned down and the format is now more in line with the rest of the BBC local radio family.
Current regular presenters include James Whale, Dave Monk, Sadie Nine, Tony Fisher and Ian Puckey. The station has also seen a number of high profile presenters pass through its doors including Jonathan Overend (BBC Radio 5 Live), Tim 'Timbo' Lloyd (twice winner of Best Local DJ at the Sony Radio Awards), Mark Pougatch (BBC Sport), Dermot O'Leary (National radio & TV presenter) and Eric 'Monster' Hall (Music Promoter, TV/Radio Presenter, Showbiz/Football Agent and a brief spell as a bus conductor!).
The strongest signal is 103.5 FM, which comes from a small transmitter between Witham and Tiptree. It reaches into Hertfordshire. The 95.3FM signal is heard in most of the southern Thames Estuary as well. The South Benfleet transmitter also provides Essex FM on 96.3FM and DAB. The 500 ft Manningtree transmitter, the highest of all five, also has national radio frequencies, Absolute Radio, BBC National DAB (the only one in Essex) and Digital One. It is the main FM transmitter for Radio Suffolk. The Bakers Wood transmitter also has Essex FM on 102.6FM, and is one of the DAB transmitters. DAB signals, since 20 May 2002, have come from the Essex 12D multiplex, which has transmitters at Maitland House (Southend-on-Sea town centre), Colchester, Sudbury (in Suffolk), and Rye Hill (south of Harlow - on a water tower). Rye Hill also has Ten 17 on 101.7FM.
From 10 to 17 April 2004, BBC Essex marked the fortieth anniversary of offshore radio in Britain by launching their own ship-based radio station, Pirate BBC Essex. Broadcasting from an old light vessel, the station transmitted sixties music and memories twenty-four hours a day all week. This was followed in August 2007 by another broadcast marking the anniversary of the closing of the pirate stations by the Marine Offences Act.
Over the Easter Weekend in April 2009, the popular Pirate Radio Essex programme was resurrected by popular demand from listeners, occurring five days after the release of the comedy movie The Boat that Rocked. This was broadcast on the AM frequencies, as well as on the Internet, which resulted in many calls from as far away as New Zealand. Presenters included Johnnie Walker, Tony Blackburn, Dave Cash and Keith Skues as well as the stations presenters: Steve Scruton; Ian Wyatt & Ray Clark.
Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt resigned as BBC Essex presenters at the end of 2012. However they both returned Christmas Day 2013 to present a special Christmas Day show together. They have since both stood in individually as stand-by presenters as required for permanent presenters. Steve Scruton has also returned on Saturday afternoons during the summer of 2014  with his 'Steve's Summer Saturday' show as he had in the past during the closed football season. Scruton & Wyatt also launched their own Radio, Training and Events business in 2014 called Scruton Wyatt Media.
BBC Essex presenter Ray Clark authored a book called 'Radio Caroline: The True Story of The Boat That Rocked' which was published in early 2014.  Clark retired from BBC Essex on 20 June 2014  after having moved from his award winning breakfast show in February that year.