Signal Radio began broadcasting at 6 am on Monday 5 September 1983. The first voice on air was breakfast presenter John Evington and the first song played was Beautiful Noise by Neil Diamond. The station’s name was derived from Signal, the local newspaper in the Five Town novels by Staffordshire writer Arnold Bennett.
Signal expanded the broadcast area to include south Cheshire on 96.4 FM in 1989, before opening a new frequency for the Stafford area on 96.9 FM a year later. The two frequencies began carrying a new alternative AOR-led service, Echo 96, in October 1990. Echo continued for around a year in Stafford while the Cheshire frequency was merged with that of the short-lived Stockport ILR station KFM to form Signal Cheshire in 1991. By the end of the year, the Stafford service was relaunched as Signal Stafford, carrying opt-out programming from the Stoke-based service.
In Staffordshire, Signal Radio began carrying a separate Golden Breakfast Show on 1170 AM in 1992 in order to provide separate services on AM and FM and avoid relinquishing frequencies. The AM opt-out gradually expanded into a full-time separate station, Signal 2.
Signal Radio was brought in 1999 by The Wireless Group, which was subsequently acquired by UTV Media six years later for £97m. Following the sale of its television assets, the group was latterly brought by News Corp in September 2016.
In 2000, Signal’s Cheshire service was split into two – 96.4 FM was merged with the Staffordshire service while 104.9 FM was relaunched as Imagine FM, a dedicated service for south Manchester and Cheshire, which was latterly sold onto become a wholly independent station in 2009.
Signal 1 celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday 10 August 2013 with a special concert at Betley Court Farm in Crewe.
Signal Radio Launch 05/09/1983