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|City of license||Manchester|
|Broadcast area||Greater Manchester|
|Slogan||The Greatest Hits for Manchester|
|Frequency||MW: 1152 kHz
|First air date||2 April 1974|
|Audience share||1.4% (June 2014, RAJAR)|
|Sister stations||Key 103
Key 2 is a local radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio as part of the City 2 network. It broadcasts to Manchester from studios in Castlefield. Most programming on the Bauer City 2 network comes from Glasgow.
It began broadcasting in 1974 as Piccadilly Radio, the first commercial radio station in Manchester. The station was later renamed Piccadilly Magic 1152 and then Key 2.
The station began broadcasting on 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 Key 103 today). The station is named after Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, and Piccadilly Plaza was home to the station's first studios until 1996, when Piccadilly 1152 and Key 103 were relocated to the Castlefield area of Manchester.
Many of Britain's best-known presenters started their careers at Piccadilly, including Chris Evans, Mike Sweeney, Steve Penk, Jeff Cooper, James H Reeve, Andy Peebles, Gary Davies, Tim Grundy, Timmy Mallett, Pete Mitchell, Chris Tetley, Geoff Lloyd, Mark Radcliffe, James Stannage, Mike Day, Nick Robinson and Karl Pilkington. Journalist Paul Lockitt joined Piccadilly in 1979 and endures as the radio station's longest serving broadcaster after 30-plus years as a producer, presenter and newscaster.
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.
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 the 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 name Piccadilly 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 10am-2pm, and 7pm-6am 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.
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. The May 2015 RAJAR figures for the first quarter of 2015 have proved disastrous for the Bauer City 2 network with sharp falls in audience reach and listening hours across the former Magic AM stations. The falls at Key 2 were the highest across the network, listening hours having fallen by 70%.
- Magic AM starts networking at breakfast Radio Today, 15 February 2013