Real Radio North West
|Broadcast area||North West England|
|Slogan||Real good, feel good radio.|
|Frequency||105.4 MHz /
DAB: 12C (MXR Digital North West)
|First air date||8 September 1998 (As Century FM)|
|Audience share||3.4% (September 2013, RAJAR)|
|Website||Real Radio North West|
105.4 Real Radio is an independent local radio station controlled by GMG Radio. It is the flagship station of the Real Radio network and has a regional license to broadcast to North West England. The station was part of the Century Network for over ten years until it was rebranded in 2009.
The station was launched in 1998 as Century Radio, part of Border Radio Holding's Century Network. Capital Radio Group took over the station in 2000, and GCap Media in 2005. GMG Radio acquired the Century stations in 2006, rebranding them in 2009 to conform to the branding and network programming of the other stations in the Real Radio network. Global Radio acquired GMG Radio on 25 June 2012 with Real Radio now operated in a "hold separate" situation known as Real and Smooth Ltd.
Launch as Century 105.4
The station was born as Century Radio in 1998 as the second Century station in the UK, the first being Gateshead-based 100-102 Century Radio. Owned by Border Television, the station was set up by managing director John Myers, who had also established the north east station. Like the first station, Myers also presented the breakfast show under the pseudonym Morgan.
The station's launch was the subject of an episode of a BBC Two fly-on-the-wall documentary Trouble at the Top, mainly following Myers. The episode, entitled "Degsy Rides Again", showed Myers' attempts to train lunchtime phone-in host Derek Hatton, a controversial local ex-politician who had never before presented on radio. Myers was not confident enough in Hatton for him to appear on pre-launch publicity, although his show "The Degsy Debate" performed well at the first RAJAR. Also amongst its launch presenters was controversial shock jock Scottie McClue.
The documentary also covered the station's acquisition of exclusive commentary rights for Manchester United F.C.'s games. They remained United's official radio partner for almost a decade until selling the rights to Xfm Manchester for the 2007–08 season.
Myers left the group to head GMG Radio, overseeing the launch of the similar Real Radio brand. Capital Radio bought the Century network, and was subsequently acquired by GCap Media. GMG Radio acquired the Century stations in October 2006, reuniting Myers and John Simons (programme director on the original Gateshead station) with the brand.
The station operates from studios in Laser House, an office-building in Salford Quays. Also housed in this building are Real Radio's sister stations 100.4 Smooth Radio and 106.1 Real Radio XS. The programming team is led by Programme Director Dave Shearer.
As well as 13 hours of local output on weekdays, 12 hours on Saturdays & 10 hours on Sundays, the station produces and broadcasts networked programming for four other Real Radio stations in the North East of England, Yorkshire, Wales and Central Scotland.
The station was also simulcast on Channel M at various times of the day until its closure in 2012. Originally, the station was used as a soundtrack to its breakfast traffic cameras programme which provided live footage from Manchester's traffic cameras. However, when the traffic camera footage programme ended, the simulcast hours were expanded and the in-vision became a holding slide of the station logo with two lines of scrolling text containing news and sports headlines and the song that the station is currently playing.
On 15 October 2012, Real Radio announced the station would increase its amount of networked programming. Weekday daytime shows from 10am - 4pm, currently presented by Darren Parks and Debbie Mac, are now networked across all Real Radio stations from Monday 5 November 2012 with further networked shows introduced at the weekend.
Global Radio takeover
On 25 June 2012 it was announced Global Radio (the owner of stations such as Capital and Heart) had bought GMG Radio. The former GMG stations, including Real Radio, will continue to operate separately as 'Real and Smooth Limited' until a regulatory review is carried out.
News and sport
Real Radio runs a seven-day North West news service from its GMG Radio North West news team, which provides bulletins for Real Radio and Smooth Radio. On weekdays, bulletins are broadcast on the hour between 6am and 6pm with headlines on the half-hour between 6am & 9am and 4pm & 6pm. Sports updates are broadcast during these during half hourly bulletins at breakfast and drivetime. At weekends, bulletins are broadcast on the hour between 7am and 2pm.
As Century, the station won three awards in the 2008 IRN Awards, including for Best Scoop, in which they managed to obtain an interview from a witness who saw the shooting of Liverpool schoolboy Rhys Jones. The station also won a Bronze Award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards for its coverage of the subsequent murder trial.
In 2010, Real Radio North West won News Team of the Year at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards and also picked up the Social Action Initiative Award for its internet safety campaign, Websafe. The team also won a Bronze award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards for News Journalist of the Year and a Silver Sony Radio Academy Award for the documentary The Return To Hillsborough, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
In 2012, the station was again named News Team of the Year, this time at the IRN Awards.
The GMG Radio North West news team also won a Gold Sony Radio Academy Award in 2012 for Feature of the Year following its Walking with The Wounded documentary.
- "Degsy Rides Again", Trouble at the Top, BBC Two, March 1999
- "Fellowship for John Simons". Radio Today. 2006-12-18. Retrieved 2007-01-06.
- Real Radio introduces networked daytimes, Radio Today, 15 October 2012
- GMG Radio sold to Global for £50m Mark Sweeney, The Guardian, 25 June 2012
- Global Radio seals £50m purchase of GMG Radio Maisie McCabe, Media Week, 25 June 2012
- West, Gillian (8 March 2013). "Boots UK launches radio and online programme hosted by Kate Thornton". The Drum. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- More changes for Real Radio NW Breakfast Radio Today, 19 November 2012