There has been a lot of talk about the loss of more ‘heritage radio brands’ as Capital FM is rolled out quasi-nationally. Of course this will get the radio anoraks putting on their rose tinted glasses mourning the losses of all that was great before.

There has been plenty written about Global Radio’s master plan for the ‘Capital Network’ and lots of analysis from radio people who can and have written things much more enlightening than I can.

Today’s loss of the ‘Galaxy’ name in Manchester takes me back just over 13 years when there was concern over the loss of an equally respected at the time radio brand ‘Kiss 102’. Here’s a clip from a broadcast in Manchester in October 1997:

Download stormfm-oct-1997

The re-brand from Kiss to Galaxy came very quickly following board room manoeuvrings and the new owners being unable to licence use of the ‘Kiss’ name. There was much concern at the time over what this meant for the loss of some of the more notable Dance Music output on the station – given this was well prior to facebook campaigns there was not the opportunity for a major public outcry, only much smaller mumblings.

So how much of a loss to Manchester was loosing Kiss FM – here is a list of Radio Stations in the Manchester Area back in October 1997:

BBC National Network Radio’s 1-5
Classic FM
Local Radio:
BBC GMR (Or possibly still in it’s 1997 ‘GMR Talk’ incarnation) launched as Radio Manchester 10 September 1970
Piccadilly 1152 – launched 2 April 1974 as Piccadilly Radio, later Piccadilly Gold
Key 103 – launched 3 September 1988
Signal FM – launched 17 February 1990 as KFM, then became Signal Cheshire, dropping the ‘Cheshire’ tag in 1997 (Now Imagine FM)
Lite AM – launched on Sept 9 1996 (Previously est 31 May 1994 as Fortune 1458 , later became Big AM, Capital Gold and now Gold)
Kiss 102 – launched 16 October 94
Jazz FM – launched 25 July 94 (Now Smooth Radio)
Asian Sound Radio – launched 29 April 96
Wish FM – launched 19 April 1997

What’s interesting to see is the variety of stations in Manchester back then, I suspect only bettered in the capital.

It’s also interesting to note that other than BBC Radio One that Kiss 102 was the only outlet for Dance Music and certainly the only local outlet.

In the meantime we have the addition of many other radio stations in the Manchester Area:

Century 105.4 launched 4 Aug 98 (later became Real Radio)
Tower FM launched 14 Mar 99
96.2 The Revolution launched 16 Aug 99
Wythenshawe FM launched 22 Mar 02
AllFM launched 22 May 02
XFM 20 Feb 06
Oldham Community Radio launched 1 Mar 07
Salford City Radio launched 20 Sep 07
Tameside Radio launched 25 Sep 07
Rock Radio launched 8 Apr 08
Pure Radio launched 6 Nov 08
Bolton FM launched 27 May 09
North Manchester FM launched 12 Jun 09
Peace FM launched 27 Jul 09
Gaydio launched 8 Jun 10
Unity Radio launched 21 Jul 10

Again we can now comment about the wide variety of radio stations (possibly now not even beaten by the capital). There is also many more outlets for various specialist Dance Music programmes on the Community stations such as the established ALL FM and the cities latest addition Unity Radio.

Therefore if there was little outcry back in 1997 about the loss of Kiss 102 perhaps there is less reason for a public outcry over the loss of Galaxy 102. Of course for the pass year of so Galaxy has been migrating itself from ‘Dance and R’n’B’ to a ‘Hit Music Station’ so the people listening to Galaxy up to yesterday will probably be more mourning the loss of local identity than the loss of the Dance music. Which on a commercial front should be good for Key 103 if they push ‘Manchester’ and pick up some former Galaxy listeners.

It’s also potentially good for the Community stations if there is press coverage on the loss of ‘Galaxy 102 local radio’ then the Community stations should react with reminding the public that they are the real local service. They probably won’t pick up many ex-Galaxy listeners but might get a few new people trying out the station.

A few footnotes:
Sources of information on stations and launch dates:
Some of the dates sourced from Ofcom will be Transmitter ‘switch on’ dates not necessarily the official station launch. Corrections welcomed.
I’ve only included stations based and audible in Manchester, not counted the several ‘out of area’ stations.
The audio was produced in 1997 so the Simpson’s sample might actually have still been cool.


Photo Credits: “Music For Chocolate Lovers” by Ferran Jordà