Heart North West
|City of license||Salford Quays|
|Broadcast area||North West England|
|Branding||The North West's Heart|
|Slogan||More Music Variety|
|Frequency||105.4 MHz /
DAB: 11B Liverpool
|First air date||8 September 1998|
|Audience share||3.5% (June 2014, )|
|Sister stations||Capital Manchester
Smooth North West
|Website||Heart North West|
Originally known as Century Radio and Century FM, and from 2009 Real Radio North West, the station relaunched as Heart North West on Tuesday 6 May 2014.
The station opened as Century Radio on 8 September 1998 as the second Century station in the country (the first being Gateshead-based 100-102 Century Radio). Owned and operated by Border Television, Century was founded 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 John 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.
On 15 October 2012, Real Radio announced the station would increase its amount of networked programming. Weekday daytime shows from 10am - 4pm, presented by Darren Parks and Debbie Mac, were networked across all Real Radio stations on Monday 5 November 2012 with further networked shows introduced at the weekend.
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, continued to operate separately as 'Real and Smooth Limited' until 1 April 2014.
On 6 February 2014, Global Radio announced it would be rebranding all Real Radio stations as Heart. Real Radio North West began a gradual transition to the Heart branding on 24 March 2014 and phased out the Real Radio branding on Sunday 20 April 2014. On 1 May 2014, local programming moved from Laser House in Salford to nearby Exchange Quay, sharing facilities with sister stations Capital Manchester and XFM Manchester. The full relaunch as Heart North West took place at 6am on Tuesday 6 May 2014.
Local programming is produced and broadcast from Heart's Salford studios from 6-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays, 1-5pm on Saturdays and 12pm-4pm on Sundays. All networked programming originates from Global Radio's London headquarters, including the syndicated Vodafone Big Top 40 on Sunday afternoons.
The station's local presenters are Joel Ross and Lorna Bancroft (Heart Breakfast), Russ Morris (weekday drivetime) and Carl Spencer (weekend afternoons).
Heart North West broadcasts hourly regional news bulletins from 6am-7pm on weekdays and 6am-12pm at weekends, including the ten-minute Heart Nightly News at 6.45pm on weeknights and headlines on the half hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows.
National news updates air hourly from Global's London headquarters at all other times. The Salford newsroom also produces bulletins for Capital Manchester, Capital North West and Wales on the Wirral, Smooth North West, XFM Manchester and Real Radio XS.
As Century, the station won three awards in the 2008 IRN Awards, including Best Scoop, for obtaining an eyewitness interview after the fatal 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.
Notable former presenters
- "Degsy Rides Again", Trouble at the Top, BBC Two, March 1999
- "Fellowship for John Simons". Radio Today. 2006-12-18. Retrieved 2007-01-06.
- "End of an Era for Century". Radio Today. 18 Dec 2008.
- 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
- Martin, Roy (2014-02-06). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
- West, Gillian (8 March 2013). "Boots UK launches radio and online programme hosted by Kate Thornton". The Drum. Retrieved 11 March 2013.