Country 1035

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Country 1035
Broadcast area London
Frequency 1035kHz Medium Wave
First air date 1 September 1994
Format Country music
Owner various

Country 1035 was a country music based Independent Local Radio station based in London, England.

History[edit]

After airing test transmissions the first voice officially heard on air was the stations chairman John Wellington. In his opening words he noted that the station will "fulfill a long awaited need". It was the first terrestrial station in the country to broadcast Country music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although TV and Radio stations had been broadcasting the genre daily for sometime). Garth Brooks, who was at the peak of his fame, officially opened the station after Wellington's speech with the words "On behalf of all the Country music artists and Country music fans. Hi folks, this is Garth Brooks and you've got it tuned to the newest radio station in London. It's Country 1035 and I officially declare it open. I wish you guys a long success and a lot of happiness, cause that's the true measure of success".

The first song played was Brooks' Friends in Low Places (which was voted #1 country song ever by listeners of the station a few months later), the second was another Brooks song The Dance. The station's early line up included such well-known presenters such as (Chris Grant) Jon Scragg, Randall Lee Rose, Peter Quinn, Paul Hollingdale, David Allan and Bryan Chalker. Chalker was subsequently dismissed for disciplinary reasons. David Allan left the station, going back to BBC Radio 2 and in an article for Country Music People magazine he criticized the station for not playing enough true country music.

The station suffered greatly because it lacked an FM frequency, with its single low-powered AM transmitter barely reaching the outer London suburbs in daylight and foreign interference then making it virtually inaudible after dark.

As staffers and DJ's alike bickered about what was "true" Country music, the operation began to run out of money and Country 1035 faced closure. After much heart-searching, the station was sold to media giant RTL who made strenuous attempts for nearly three years to turn it around. An initially over-formulaic, heavy-rotation playlist damaged ratings, but a subsequent, more audience-friendly format saw station share rise, and at one time, even exceed its competitor Jazz FM.

Notwithstanding the improving position, RTL abruptly decided to automate the presentation and to broadcast from the studios of Talk Radio in London's West End. The presenter line-up at this time included Andy Beeley, Tina Stewart, Keith Francis, Randall Lee Rose, Gary Ziepe, Miles Long and Mark Hagen. Sales and administrative functions were amalgamated into RTL's Talk Radio and Atlantic 252. Eventually RTL sold RTL Country 1035 as it had become known to Ritz Records, at one time the UK record label for Daniel O'Donnell, but problems within the RMG group resulted in the mother company becoming close to bankruptcy.

By 2002 the audience had been reduced from over 250,000 listeners a week to only 75,000 listeners. Ritz sold the station in a deal which saw the staff go unpaid to Mean Radio, part of Vince Power's Mean Fiddler group. It was in turn purchased by Asian radio tycoon Avtar Lit, owner of Sunrise Radio, who renamed it Easy 1035. After a year or so of broadcasting a mixed easy listening/country format, Mr Lit applied to Ofcom to transfer Easy to a digital platform, thus freeing the 1035 frequency for Kismat Radio, a further Asian-language station. "Easy 1035" stopped broadcasting on the terrestrial AM service in 2003 but continued broadcasting (now called Easy Radio London) via its digital frequency. In 2008 this too was closed. As of 2011 there are no country stations in the UK, aside from web-based stations.

Another country music station 3C in Great Britain was also closed in 2007, and the advent of digital and internet radio platforms means it is unlikely that a dedicated country music station would ever again be licensed on a terrestrial frequency.