County Sound started broadcasting on the 4th April 1983 from studios at the top of Guildford's shopping centre, the Friary. The station served Surrey and North East Hampshire in the UK on 203 meters MW (1476 KHz) and 96.6 VHF Stereo. The first voice heard on air was Frank Muir with a story about Brewster Mouse (the station's mascot) who lived in the Friary. Early presenters/news reporters on County Sound included Mike Powell, Paul Owens, Bob Kingsley, Simon Cummings, Fiona Phillips, Sally Eden and an over night presenter called Damian Dark (real name Tony James).
Towards the end of 1985 a plan to group ILR stations together and BBC local stations together meant a change in the FM frequency. 96.6 became 96.4 FM. New jingles followed (again by Alfasound) and this time sung with American singers (a mixture of some of the usual Jam and TM Century singers).
Click below for the first programme guide or the County Sound newspaper from 1986:
In 1988 County Sound was the first UK station to split frequencies to create County Sound Gold and Premier Radio. A dispute then occurred with Ocean Sound over who had the right to use the name Gold AM. This resulted in County Sound renaming their AM service to First Gold Radio. Also in 1988, Delta Radio opened within the group to form the County Sound Radio Network. Each station had its own programmes during the day but joined together in the evenings. Premier and County Sound (evenings) had re-sings of Jam's "The Only One" package while Delta (days) had re-sings of Leicester's Centre Radio package. First Gold Radio (days) had re-sings of Pams jingles. Premier Radio used the studios in the Friary centre while First Gold, County Sound and the news room were at Woking. Delta Radio had it's own studios in Haslemere.
The County Sound network joined forces with Radio Mercury in 1991 to form Allied Radio. This seemed to be the end of County Sound as we knew it. Allied changed the old FM Premier service to Radio Mercury and the County Sound name was used for the AM services but wasn't really like the original County Sound at all.
After a while the County Sound name was dropped completely and became Mercury Extra. At this time some of the old County Sound staff left to set up Pirate FM as part of the UKRD group with Mike Powell's company, Infinity.
In 1995 the license for the Guildford area franchise was to be renewed. A subsidiary of UKRD won back the license from Allied/Mercury. It was a relief to hear County Sound back on the air and it sounded the same as before the merge! Temporarily the same service could be heard on all frequencies and was called County Sound. A few months later the FM service was re-launched as 96.4 The Eagle (the name Premier Radio had since been used for a Christian AM station) and County Sound stayed on AM. Delta Radio was also reopened as that was shut down during the merge with Mercury.
County Sound and 96.4 The Eagle moved from The Friary shopping centre to new headquarters at Dolphin House, North Street, Guildford. Delta Radio merged with Wey Valley Radio and became Delta FM. County Sound 1476AM moved frequency to 1566AM in 1999 and Delta FM merged with Kestrel FM in 2010. On the 2nd of April 2012 County Sound 1566AM became Eagle Extra. Kestrel FM Haslemere joined the Breeze network on the 16 December 2012. In December 2014 the Eagle Extra licence was sold to Premier Christian Radio and now relays their London service.
In 2019 Bauer Media acquired UKRD (Eagle Radio's parent company). The station was re-branded as Greatest Hits Radio on the 1st of September 2020.
Copyright © 2000-2021 Sean Saunders