County Sound Radio (1566 AM)

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County Sound Radio
CountySoundRadio logo.png
City Guildford
Broadcast area Guildford
Slogan The best songs of all time.
Frequency 1566 kHz
First air date 4 April 1983 - 2 April 2012
Format Contemporary
Owner UKRD Group
Website http://www.eagleextra.co.uk/

County Sound Radio was a commercial radio station covering Surrey and north-east Hampshire. It is now broadcast as 'Eagle Extra' on 1566 MW and 91.5 FM (on cable) and on the internet via the website.

History[edit]

County Sound Radio was launched on 4 April 1983 by Frank Muir on 203 MW and 96.6 FM, broadcasting from "The Friary" shopping centre in Guildford. In 1986 the FM frequency was changed to 96.4 FM.

The FM transmitter is on the Hog's Back, while the AM transmitter, shared with Absolute Radio, is next to the railway line in Farncombe, opposite Broadwater School.

County Sound was originally only on air (weekdays) 6am until 9pm, then midnight, with future extensions to 5am and 1am, before going 24 hours.

The original line-up included Phil Miles at Breakfast, Paul Owens, Sarah Lucas "after lunch" and Simon Cummings during the afternoon. Nigel Williams presented the evening show called '96.6'. Norman Cunningham was the company Chairman, David Lucas was the launch Managing Director and Mike Powell was the first Head of News. The following year Powell became Programme Director. When Lucas left in 1986 to become Managing Director of Ocean Sound, Powell became Managing Director.

County Sound was noted for its long news programmes called "County World" at lunchtime and 6pm.

The County Sound Radio theme was written by board member Les Reed (who also wrote Delilah, The Last Waltz and many other hits) with the slogan "The One and Only One for You". The lyrics to the County Sound song were:

Here comes the morning, it's a brand new day (Alt. lyrics for afternoon and evening: We are your music, and your news each day). Turn on the sunshine. The County Sound way. Open up your heart, and you will let a little sunshine through, with County Sound, the one and only one for you. We'll always be here, each and every day. Where ever you're going, we're going your way. Come with us and ride the airwaves discover something new, on County Sound - the one and only one for you. County Sound, the one and only one for you.

County Sound's mascot was Brewster the Mouse, often seen at fetes, fairs and shows in Surrey and North East Hampshire.

On 1 June 1988 County Sound Radio became the first UK station to split its FM and MW frequencies to create two stations, 96.4 became "Premier Radio" and 203 MW was re-branded "County Sound Gold", which was later renamed First Gold Radio. As part of a major property deal, the station moved most of its departments from its purpose-built studios on top of Guildford's "Friary Shopping Centre" to a new building in nearby Woking. However, a small facility remained in the Friary's food court where shoppers could look directly into the on-air studio.

In 1991 the group merged with Radio Mercury to form the listed plc, Allied Radio plc.

FM frequencies 102.7 & 96.4 broadcast Radio Mercury. The West Surrey (96.4) Mercury included programming made from a studio at County Sound's original home - the Friary shopping centre in Guildford. West Surrey had its own dedicated programming on Monday to Friday from 6am till 6.30pm. All other programming was networked from Mercury's Crawley HQ. Haslemere also had its own breakfast show, on 97.1FM. This, strangely, ran from 7am-11am, meaning listeners in Haslemere heard the first hour of the Guildford breakfast show, then had a four-hour Haslemere programme, then joined the Guildford mid morning show an hour late.

"County Sound" became the name of the AM service on 1476 and 1521 (1521 carried Radio Mercury until then), but it wasn't like the County Sound listeners knew and County Sound changed names once more in 1993 to become Mercury Extra. 1521 eventually became part of the Gold network until Global Media handed the licence back to OFCOM in early 2011.

A news magazine programme "The South Tonight" was broadcast on weekdays at 6.30pm on Mercury and County Sound. The programme was presented from Crawley although the Guildford news team were responsible for collecting the news for the west of the region and sending it to Crawley to be included in the programme.

In 1995 the link between the Guildford and Crawley stations was broken, as Allied lost the Guildford licence. UKRD won the franchise - and were originally to go on air in April 1996 - but Allied were keen to get out and sold the remaining seven months of their licence to the new franchisee.

UKRD - with Mike Powell at the helm - wanted to bring County Sound back to Surrey - and from 1 September 1995 "County Sound Radio" was, albeit temporarily, once again broadcasting on 96.4FM and 1476 AM. This was a temporary service while the new owners prepared to launch properly.

On Friday 29 December 1995 the station moved into Dolphin House on North Street in Guildford - ending twelve years of broadcasting from the Friary - and on the 4 January 1996 the new UKRD stations launched, once again splitting frequencies. "County Sound" remained broadcasting on 1476, while the FM channel became 96.4 Eagle Radio. In 1999 County Sound moved to its current frequency of 1566 MW.

In its last years, the station more & more became a jukebox with 'Steve Dean' on a Sunday morning, and the main live presenter 'Dave Johns' unfortunately both having to leave before Christmas of 2011.

Original presenter Simon Cummings died in December 1996 after suffering a long illness.

'Eagle Extra' began broadcasting at 6am on 2 April 2012 with a simultaneous broadcast of 'The Peter Gordon Breakfast show' from 96.4 Eagle radio.

In December 2014, the Eagle Extra licence was sold to Premier Christian Radio for a relay of the London service.

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 51°14′26.26″N 0°34′53.8″W / 51.2406278°N 0.581611°W / 51.2406278; -0.581611