Rock FM (and its sister AM station Magic 999) broadcast from studios based at a converted church (St. Paul's) in Preston. The station can be received across most of north west England and North Wales. Rock FM consistently rates as the number one commercial radio station in its target service area by reach, share and hours. Over a quarter of all adults in its market listen every week.
In 1990, Red Rose Radio, which was transmitted on 97.4 MHz and 999 kHz, was split into two stations - Red Rose Rock FM using the FM frequency and Red Rose Gold on the medium wave frequency. The managing director was Dave Lincoln, with John Myers as programme director, and at that time the station was owned by the Miss World Group, later known as TransWorld Communications (owned by Owen Oyston) and which subsequently became part of Bauer Radio (previously EMAP Radio).
18 months later, the station announced drivetime presenters Hywel Evans and Jamie Atherton would move to the breakfast slot from Monday 26 September 2011 with Smith moving to Drivetime and Jude Vause-Walsh leaving the station. Smith left the station in May 2012 but continued as a weekend presenter on Key 103, as a breakfast presenter on the group's national digital station The Hits Radio, and appearing on BBC Five Live as a reporter. In 2011, the station announced tha arrival of Tim Shaw to host weekend afternoons. Shaw had previously hosted edgy late night zoo format shows on Absolute Radio and Kerrang Radio and is reputedly one of the most controversial radio presenters in the world.