Piccadilly Radio began broadcasting on April 2, 1974 as the first commercial radio station in Manchester. The station was later renamed Piccadilly Magic 1152, and later, Key 2. Today, the station is called Key Radio.
Named after Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Except for a short spell in 2000 – when Key 103 was briefly renamed Piccadilly Key 103 – the Piccadilly brand finally disappeared from the airwaves.
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