Hits Radio

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Hits Radio
Hits Radio logo (2018 - ).png
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom (digital)
SloganThe Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks
Frequency103.0 MHz (Greater Manchester)
DAB (National)
First air date1 April 2003 (as The Hits)
4 June 2018 (as Hits Radio)
OwnerBauer Radio
Sister stationsAbsolute Radio
Greatest Hits Radio
Heat Radio
Jazz FM
Kerrang Radio
Planet Rock
Scala Radio

Hits Radio (formerly The Hits) is a CHR network of radio stations, owned and operated by Bauer Radio.

Hits Radio's flagship station broadcasts on DAB in many parts of the UK, nationally on Freeview and Sky TV platforms and online - a localised version of the station airs on FM and DAB in Greater Manchester.

There are also 19 local radio stations in Northern England, Scotland and the West Midlands, providing local programming, news, traffic and sport, along with networked Hits Radio output.

The network is based at studios at Castle Quay in the Castlefield area of Manchester, with a line up of young and established presenters from various stations within Bauer Radio. A separate version of the network provides bespoke programming for Bauer's local stations in Scotland.


The Hits[edit]

The Hits launched on 1 April 2003.

On 19 January 2015, The Hits formed the backbone of a new locally branded Bauer City 3 network of radio stations in Northern England and Scotland.[1]. The local City 3 branding was dropped on 31 August 2017, in favour of reverting to using The Hits name in all areas.[2]

Hits Radio rebrand[edit]

On 18 April 2018, station owners Bauer Media announced Key 103 would be rebranded and relaunched as Hits Radio, a CHR-led music station aimed at 25-44 year olds on Monday 4 June 2018.[3]

The station was merged with The Hits to provide a single national service across the UK on DAB, Freeview and online.[4] In Manchester, Hits Radio continues to provide local news & information, traffic bulletins and advertising on its local platforms - 103 FM, DAB and online.[5]

'Hits Radio' also produces and broadcast off-peak programming for Bauer's network of CHR local stations which continue to air local programming at peak times.

In Manchester, the Key 103 branding was phased out from Friday 25 May 2018 as the station entered a transition period ahead of the launch of Hits Radio at 6am on Monday 4 June 2018. The first song played on air - decided by an online poll via the Manchester Evening News - was "Greatest Day" by Take That.

The former Key branding was retained by the sister AM station, which rebranded as Key Radio on the same day as the launch of Hits Radio.[6] The following January, the Key branding was retired when the station became part of the Greatest Hits Radio network.


The launch of Hits Radio in 2018 saw the station added to DAB multiplex transmissions in a number of local areas - mostly those served by Arqiva's NOWdigital multiplexes, as well as being made available on the CE Birmingham multiplex (replacing 'Magic Soul') and in stereo in London (replacing Kerrang! Radio and Absolute Radio 70s, which were removed on 23 May and replaced with a Hits Radio placeholder).

Hits Radio replaced The Hits Radio on Bauer's DAB multiplexes and on the Arqiva-operated commercial Freeview multiplex. In addition, the new network was provided over the Sky satellite TV platform, on a channel previously occupied by Absolute Radio 70s.

Local stations[edit]

Northern England

West Midlands


Logo history[edit]


Local programming - consisting of at least seven hours on weekdays and 4 hours on Saturdays and Sundays - is mainly produced and broadcast live from the originating station's studios. The main exception is TFM, which shares all programming with Newcastle-based Metro Radio.

The majority of Hits Radio's programming on its two services are produced and broadcast from the Castle Quay studios at Castlefield in Manchester - both versions carry the same output, apart from local opt-outs for news, traffic and advertising in Manchester.

  • In Northern England and the West Midlands, Hits Radio provides the majority of network output.
  • In Scotland, bespoke national programming is produced and broadcast from the studios of Clyde 1 in Clydebank, near Glasgow, along with some output from Forth 1 in Edinburgh.
  • Overnight shows, The UK Chart Show and Hits Party on Saturday evenings is broadcast across all of the network's stations.

In July 2017, West FM in Ayrshire moved its output to Clyde 1's Clydebank studios, but retains its local programming with local news, sales and charity staff based at offices in Ayr.[7]

On 28 July 2015, Bauer announced it would reintroduce further separate programming for Scotland and Northern England, including split editions of Old Skool and Anthems and the weekday evening and Sunday morning shows. The changes were introduced during August 2015.[8]

In February 2017, the Free Radio group of stations in the West Midlands began carrying off-peak programming from the network, replacing most of its own regional output from Birmingham.

From July 2017, most of the local daytime shows from 10am-2pm on weekdays were replaced with networked shows for Northern England (from Key 103 with Debbie Mac) and Scotland (from Clyde 1 with Greig Easton).[9] CFM, MFR, and Radio Borders retain their own daytime programming.

A revamped networked schedule for stations in Northern England and the West Midlands was introduced in June 2018, following the launch of Hits Radio. The Scottish network of stations was unaffected.


Most stations in the network carry their own local news bulletins hourly from 6am to 7pm on weekdays and from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Headlines are broadcast on the half-hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows, alongside sport and traffic bulletins.

At weekends, bespoke networked bulletins air from 2pm (until 6pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays). These are produced by Clyde 1 for all the Scottish stations, while the Leeds newsroom at Radio Aire produces bulletins for the English stations. National news updates also air on the national version of Hits Radio in place of the local bulletins for Manchester.

At all other times, mainly evening & overnight, hourly national bulletins originate from Sky News Radio

As of April 2019, Hits Radio UK & Hits Radio Manchester moved their hourly bulletins to five minutes before the hour (5.55am - 6.55pm on weekdays and 8.55am - 12.55pm at weekends). Headlines air at 25 minutes past the hour during Hits Breakfast on weekdays, alongside traffic bulletins during breakfast and Drivetime.

Other stations in the network continue to air local news on the hour and the half hour.

Opt-outs and variations[edit]

  • Clyde 1 provides live football commentaries throughout the season, alongside a nightly edition of its sports show, Superscoreboard, on weekday evenings from 6-8pm.
  • Clyde 1 opts out of Hits Party on Saturday evenings to air an extra edition of The GBXperience.
  • Metro Radio and TFM opt out from 10pm-2pm on Sunday to Thursday nights to air the long-running North East talk show, Night Owls, presented by Alan Robson.
  • Radio City airs the 'Legends Phone-In' on Monday and Thursday evenings at 6.30pm during the football season.
  • CFM, MFR and Radio Borders all retain their own local daytime shows on weekdays from 10am-2pm. CFM also airs an hour of automated music from 2pm.
  • Forth 1 and Radio Borders air Super Scoreboard sports shows on Saturday afternoons - with the latter providing in-depth rugby union coverage.

Notable presenters[edit]


  1. ^ Bauer City Network 3 launches on local DAB Radio Today, 19 January 2015
  2. ^ "The Hits to replace Bauer's City 3 network", RadioToday, 2017-08-29
  3. ^ Bauer to launch new national radio station, Bauer Media, 18 April 2018
  4. ^ Key 103 to become Hits Radio as part of major rebrand, Prolific North, 18 April 2018
  5. ^ Key 103 to rebrand as Hits Radio and go national, Radio Today, 19 April 2018
  6. ^ Key 2 on AM and DAB rebrands as Key Radio, Radio Today, 4 June 2018
  7. ^ West FM to move output from Ayr to Glasgow, RadioToday, 12 June 2017
  8. ^ Bauer brings local radio back to Scotland, Radio Today, 28 July 2015
  9. ^ "Networked mid-morning shows for Bauer stations". RadioToday. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.

External links[edit]