Bauer Media (Hits Radio, Magic, KISS FM, Absolute Radio) has announced the launch of a new station, Country Hits Radio – the UK’s first ever national country music station.
Country music radio host Baylen Leonard (BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4) will join the station for a daily weekday show, fresh from his win of International Country Broadcaster at the 2019 CMA International Awards. Nashville’s Ty Bentli will also join the weekday line-up, while singer-songwriter Una Healy (The Saturdays, The Voice of Ireland) will also join the station for a weekend show.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Una Healy said: “When you look at the success of artists such as The Shires and Ward Thomas as well as huge events like Country 2 Country, it’s clear there’s a real audience for country music in the UK. It’s a genre I’ve fallen in love with and it’s thrilling that it now has a home in Country Hits Radio. I can’t wait to get started!”
An official press release cited that "the UK contemporary country music scene is growing rapidly with album sales topping 1.9M in 2017; singles sales up by over 31% in the last six years; and a burgeoning live gig & festival scene. With a reported 8.7 million fans now listening to country music in the UK, it’s the biggest genre of music to have previously been without its own radio station."
During its launch week next month, the station will play feature guest appearances from Case Rice, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, Brett Elredge and Jimmy Allen.
Its playlists will include artists such as Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett, Maren Morris, Florida Georgia Line, Dan + Shay and Carrie Underwood. Country Hits Radio will focus on attracting modern country music-lovers aged 25-44.
Country Hits Radio is the third new station launch from Bauer Media this year – following on from Greatest Hits Radio and Scala Radio.
You can listen to Country Hits Radio from April 5 on DAB Digital Radio, online, via smart speakers and mobile apps. Further information on how to listen can be found at www.countryhitsradio.co.uk.
Maren Morris' cover feature headed up Music Week’s Nashville 2019 special – which also included interviews with the CMA’s Milly Olykan, Country To Country Festival’s Chris York, rising star Kassi Ashton, Sony/ATV Nashville’s Troy Tomlinson and Lady Antebellum. Subscribers can read the Morris feature in full here.
Photo: Jamie Nelson