Originally known as Piccadilly Radio, the station commenced broadcasting from studios at Piccadilly Plaza in Manchester city centre at 5am on Tuesday 2 April 1974. Piccadilly split its services into two on Saturday 3 September 1988. Key 103 launched at midday on 103 FM
Positioning itself as Music, not music, Key 103 aimed at an upmarket audience with a mix of AOR and chart music and high-end specialist output including arts and business programming, comedy and weekly jazz, folk and classical music shows. The station later opted for a more mainstream format with presenters from Piccadilly 1152 (later Piccadilly Gold) switching to the FM station, and in 1990, the station was rebranded as Piccadilly Key 103. The Piccadilly branding was gradually dropped during the 1990s, in 1996 the station was bought by EMAP or better known Bauer Media
On 18 April 2018, station owners Bauer Media announced Key 103 would be rebranded and relaunched as Hits Radio Manchester, a CHR-led music station aimed at 25-44 year olds on Monday 4 June 2018.
The station was merged with The Hits Radio to provide a single national service across the UK on DAB, Freeview and online – as Hits Radio UK In Manchester, Hits Radio continues to provide local news & information, traffic bulletins and advertising on its local platforms – 103 FM, DAB and online.