Greatest Hits Manchester

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Greatest Hits Manchester
Broadcast areaGreater Manchester
SloganThe Good Times Sound Like This
FrequencyMW: 1152 kHz
DAB: 11C
First air date2 April 1974
Transmitter coordinates53°29′28″N 2°06′52″W / 53.49124°N 2.11445°W / 53.49124; -2.11445Coordinates: 53°29′28″N 2°06′52″W / 53.49124°N 2.11445°W / 53.49124; -2.11445
OwnerBauer Radio
Sister stationsHits Radio

Greatest Hits Manchester is a local radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio as part of the Greatest Hits Radio network. It broadcasts to Greater Manchester from studios in Castlefield.

It began broadcasting in 1974 as Piccadilly Radio, the first commercial radio station in Manchester.


Early years[edit]

Piccadilly Radio (Medium Wave) logos throughout the years.
Piccadilly Magic 1152 logo used from 1998 to 2015.

The station began broadcasting at 5am on Tuesday 2 April 1974 as Piccadilly Radio on 261m (1151 kHz then) AM/MW and on 97.0 MHz FM (from the same transmitter in Saddleworth that is used by Hits Radio Manchester today). The station was named after Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, and Piccadilly Plaza was home to the station's first studios until 1996, when Piccadilly 1152 and Hits Radio were relocated to the Castlefield area of Manchester.

Piccadilly's founding managing director was Philip Birch, who previously ran the highly influential pirate station Radio London until it closed down ahead of the Marine Offences Act in August 1967. The first presenter on air was Roger Day - himself an ex-pirate radio presenter - and the first song played on air was Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys.

Many of Britain's best-known broadcasters started their careers at Piccadilly, including Chris Evans, Mike Sweeney, Steve Penk, James H Reeve, Andy Peebles, Gary Davies, Tim Grundy, Timmy Mallett, Pete Mitchell, Geoff Lloyd, Mark Radcliffe, James Stannage, Stu Allan, Nick Robinson and Karl Pilkington.

Journalist Paul Lockitt joined Piccadilly in 1979 and became the station's longest serving on-air employee, working as a producer, presenter and newscaster until his departure in 2017.

FM/MW split[edit]

Piccadilly Radio split into two services in 1988, with Key 103 broadcast on FM with a contemporary format, while Piccadilly Gold broadcast on AM with a Gold format. In the mid-1990s Piccadilly Gold became Piccadilly 1152 as the playlist moved away from "golden oldies" to a mix of classic and current easy-listening music. The late-night phone-in with James Stannage became the most listened-to talk show outside London, whilst the Dave Ward and Umberto breakfast show helped the station to become one of the biggest broadcasting on AM.

In 1994, a rival station, Fortune 1458 (later renamed 1458 Lite AM, today broadcasting as 1458 Capital Gold) commenced on the old BBC GMR AM frequency. Despite heavy marketing, and many ex-Piccadilly presenters on the new station, Piccadilly 1152 remained Manchester's most popular station, other than sister station Key 103, until the late 1990s when new smaller FM stations in Oldham, Warrington and Bury began to erode away Piccadilly's audience base.

Magic 1152[edit]

In 1994, Piccadilly (Key 103/Piccadilly 1152) were part of the Transworld Radio Group, which was bought by present owners Bauer Radio (then EMAP). In 1999/2000, parent company EMAP re-branded the station as Magic 1152, to fall in-line with the other nine Magic Radio stations they owned across London and the north of England.

The idea of a "Magic brand" of stations was seen to be beneficial when selling air time to national advertisers. This change in name also coincided with the 25th birthday of Piccadilly Radio. The station was branded as "Piccadilly 1152 - the magic of Manchester" during the transition. Except for a short spell in 2000 - when Key 103 was briefly renamed Piccadilly Key 103 - the Piccadilly brand finally disappeared from the airwaves.

In December 2001, EMAP decided that it was more economical for the Magic network to share off-peak programmes. Magic 1152, in line with the other seven Magic AM stations in northern England, began networking 10 am – 2 pm, and 7 pm – 6 am with the London station Magic 105.4 providing the programmes - during these hours it was simply known as Magic, although there were local commercial breaks, and local news on the hour.

In January 2003, after a sharp decline in listening, the station ceased networking with the London station, Magic 105.4, and a regional northern network was created with Magic 1152 at the hub at the weekend and the Newcastle station of the same name during the week. During networked hours, local adverts were aired, as well as a local news summary on the hour.

From July 2006, more networking was introduced across the Northern Magic AM network which meant only 4 hours a day was to be presented from the local studios, between 06:00 and 10:00am. In April 2012, Magic 1152, inline with the majority of other Magic North stations, dropped local weekend breakfast shows.

Between March 2013 and December 2014, weekday breakfast was syndicated with Magic 1548 in Liverpool and Magic 999 in Preston.[1]

Key 2/Key Radio[edit]

On 5 January 2015, Magic 1152 was rebranded as Key 2, as Magic FM in London went national on DAB. The station is now part of the Bauer City 2 network. All programming is networked with the other Bauer AM stations in the North although local news, weather and travel continue to be broadcast as opt-outs during the day.

In June 2018, following the relaunch and rebrand of Key 103 as Hits Radio, the station was rebranded again as Key Radio, retaining the former local identity in a secondary capacity.[2]

Greatest Hits Radio[edit]

On 7 January 2019, Key Radio rebranded as Greatest Hits Manchester.[3]


Most of Greatest Hits Manchester's programming is produced and broadcast from the station's studios at Castlefield, Manchester.[4]

Other output originates from Greatest Hits Radio's Liverpool and Birmingham studios, the studios of Clyde 2 in Glasgow and Bauer's Golden Square headquarters in Soho.


Greatest Hits Manchester broadcasts local news bulletins hourly from 6am to 7pm on weekdays and from 7am to 1pm at weekends. Headlines are broadcast on the half-hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows, alongside traffic bulletins. National bulletins from Sky News Radio are carried at other times.


  1. ^ Magic AM starts networking at breakfast Radio Today, 15 February 2013
  2. ^ Key 2 on AM and DAB rebrands as Key Radio, Radio Today, 4 June 2018
  3. ^ Bauer Media to launch Greatest Hits Radio network Radio Today, 15 November 2018
  4. ^ Schedule released for Bauer City 2 stations, RadioToday, 19 December 2014

External links[edit]