The revolutionary radio station that became "the heartbeat of the city" - Kiss 102

It's been 25 years since Kiss 102 launched in Manchester and its legacy is still being felt today.

By Ben Brown | 15 October 2019

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16th October 1994, Sunset 102 is no longer. Kiss 102 begins a 3-year journey of establishing itself as the essential rhythm of Manchester. It wasn’t long until the small radio station was being referred (even to this day) as “the heartbeat of the city”.

Kiss was a truly revolutionary station, winning awards for its coverage of social issues, providing its own dedicated news-reading service and having a very progressive outlook on social integration – a factor influenced by the stations very close links with the Manchester clubbing scene.

Helping to prolong and grow dance music in Manchester, Kiss were extremely generous with giving over vast swathes of airtime to club DJs, artists and music producers – many of whom had little to no experience of radio but used the station as a stepping off point to launch their own careers and future endeavours.

It managed to put some key Manchester players on the map including Mark Rae, Mr Scruff, Kath McDermott and Da Intalex, with regular spots also hosted by local legends like Graeme Park and 808 State. Kiss looked to break the rules and get down and dirty with the music, culture and spirit of Manchester’s club scene – and it succeeded.

For 3 glorious years it reigned supreme in Manchester’s dance scene – dominating the airwaves with new and exciting acts, promoting nights and providing often anarchic transmissions that truly captured the spirit of the city.

Ultimately though the money men won, as is usually the case, and Kiss was sold and re-badged as Galaxy 102 in 1997. An era was over, but so too was the house and dance scene in Manchester.

The Hacienda had closed and it seemed like the city was heading towards a Brit Pop insurgence in the clubs and pubs, one that continued for many years before evolving into the indie scene dominated by newer stations such as XFM.

Well, for one night only the Kiss 102 gang are getting back together to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the first transmission, as well as hopefully raise money for ex-DJ Chris Jam’s seven-year-old son Blaise Alexis Nelson.

Blaise was diagnosed with a brain tumour Chris describes as the ‘size of a satsuma’. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed, but the Nelson family are now dealing with the reality that there is no treatment that can ultimately cure Blaise’s condition.

Blaise’s condition requires regular (and expensive) treatment, support and care, and they therefore need Manchester to do what it does best: to come together… to celebrate with music… and to raise funds to help Blaise.

Saturday 19th October will see a host of DJs head to The Pen & Pencil for this FREE 25th Anniversary reunion, complete with Andy Barker (808 State), David Dunne, Graeme Park, Jam MCs (Chris Jam & Tomlin), Kath McDermott (Homoelectric/Flesh), Mark Hogg (Slammin’ Boys), MarkXTC (Da Intalex) and Nev Johnson.


Kiss 102FM – 25th Anniversary Reunion

Venue: Pen & Pencil
Date: Saturday 19th October
Time: 7pm – 2am
Cost: FREE

More Info


The Pen & Pencil, Fourways House, 57 Hilton St, Manchester M1 2EJ