As country music fans across the UK and Ireland prepare for the launch of the 2016 Country to Country Festival, BBC Radio 2 will today mark the occasion with its pop-up digital and online station Radio 2 Country.
Now in its second year, the service launches at midday today GMT, as seasoned broadcaster “Whispering” Bob Harris cuts the ribbon with a very special guest from the star-packed C2C bill. The station will be broadcasting live between today and Sunday (13) from midday to midnight each day, available on digital radio, iPlayer radio and online. All programmes in the schedule will be available on demand for 30 days immediately after broadcast.
Today’s opening day also features Sara Cox, with an hour of country-pop at 1pm; Baylen Leonard’s ‘Beginner’s Guide To Country’ at 2pm; a two-hour request show with Alex Lester at 3pm and ‘Steve Wright’s Country Story Songs’ at 5pm.
uDiscover writer and broadcaster Paul Sexton is on air at 6pm today with his ‘Country Class of 2016’ show. “There are so many exciting new artists coming out of Nashville right now,” says Sexton. “‘I’m looking forward to playing a big selection of the artists who’ve had their first US success in recent months, some who are totally new, others playing C2C this weekend and some I think we might see at the festival in 2017.”
Today’s schedule continues with Bob Harris’ weekly country show, on the main Radio 2 network at 7pm for an hour as usual but extended to two hours on the digital station; revered American singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters’ ‘Sad Songs Make Me Happy’ show at 9pm, Paul Gambaccini’s ‘America’s Greatest Country Hits’ at 10pm and musician-broadcaster Ricky Ross’ ‘Ricky’s Country Jukebox’ at 11pm.
Over the three days of C2C 2016, Radio 2 Country will broadcast all of the main arena stage performances, including those by headliners Miranda Lambert (Friday), Carrie Underwood (Saturday) and Eric Church (Sunday). Presenters include Harris, Sexton, Leonard, Jo Whiley, Alex Lester, with backstage interviews and exclusive acoustic performances.
That coverage is augmented across the weekend by more special shows presented by such artists as Don Henley (5pm, Friday), Little Big Town (11pm, Friday) and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum (midday, Sunday). On Saturday at 2pm there’s an hour of Bob Harris in conversation with Loretta Lynn, and the service offers further shows by such Radio 2 presenters as Jeremy Vine, Ken Bruce, Michael Ball, Cerys Matthews, Liza Tarbuck, Sally Boazman, Simon Mayo and Patrick Kielty.