|Broadcast area||North West England|
|Frequency||FM: 106.1 MHz|
|First air date||5 May 2008|
|Format||Speech and Classic Rock|
|Audience share||1.4% (December 2015, RAJAR)|
The station began test transmissions as 106.1 Rock Radio on FM on 10 April 2008. The transmitter is on top of the City Tower (the former Sunley Building) in Piccadilly in Manchester, the same place as Capital Manchester and Radio X's transmitter and all 3 services share the same broadcast antenna system which is located on the centre transmission tower and is illuminated with red Aircraft warning lights at night.
The station organised a 'Free one day festival' to promote its launch, this was held at Cathedral Gardens, with headlining bands Bad Company and Gun with support acts Salford Jets, Letz Zep and Mercury. The performances started at 1:00pm with a countdown to 6:00pm when the station went live. The first voice heard on Rock Radio was the mid-morning presenter Moose.
Due to the mix of output, the original application was made under the name Rock Talk. The licence competition included bids by existing licence holders Chrysalis and Emap as well as a number by smaller local groups. Chrysalis Radio's managing director expressed his surprise that the talk/rock hybrid won in preference to a dedicated talk or rock station, both of which had been offered by his group.
Following the award, a decision was made to position the station as a sister to the newly relaunched Scottish station 96.3 Rock Radio.
The then parent company Guardian Media Group owns the local newspaper Manchester Evening News, a series of local newspapers, a city-wide terrestrial and national satellite TV station Channel M and the two regional licences for North West - Real Radio (North West) and Smooth Radio.
On 25 June 2012 it was announced Global Radio had bought GMG Radio, The division continued to operate separately until 2014 when, following Ofcom's regulatory review into GMG Radio's takeover, Global Radio announced that 106.1 Real Radio XS would be one of eight stations it would be selling to Communicorp.
In March 2016, the station was rebranded as XS Manchester.
On 28 July 2011, GMG Radio announced that the Manchester-based service would be re-branded as 106.1 Real Radio XS, while the Glasgow-based 96.3 Rock Radio would be sold and was released that the new Real Radio XS service would "benefit from the brand and scale of sister station Real Radio".
On 29 August 2011, It was announced that the new service would launch on 5 September 2011 and would be extended to be available over a much larger area, replacing Jazz FM (UK) in London, the North West and the West Midlands, as Jazz FM had been launched nationally via the Digital One DAB platform. The move gave the rock service DAB availability in its 106.1 FM coverage area for the first time. Real Radio XS from Manchester was also added to Switch Scotland, replacing 105.2 Smooth Radio, which moved from the regional multiplex to replace Jazz FM on the Bauer Glasgow local multiplex. The Glasgow multiplex also carried the local 96.3 Real Radio XS, meaning DAB listeners in Glasgow could now access both versions. Later, the DAB carriage arrangements would be changed such that the Paisley station transmitted on the Central Scotland multiplex taking the place of the Manchester station; this DAB berth transitioned to Xfm in 2014-15 in line with the 96.3 FM service.
- Rock Talk
- Plunkett, John (8 February 2007). "Rock Talk wins Manchester bid". MediaGuardian. London: Guardian News and Media.
- 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
- Martin, Roy (6 February 2014). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
- Macpherson, Ande (23 February 2016). "Real Radio XS to rebrand as XS Manchester". RadioToday. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
- RADIO TODAY - GMG drop Rock Radio for Real Radio XS
- RADIO TODAY - Jazz FM leaves regional DAB platforms[permanent dead link]