Key 103 legends unite to launch new radio station in Manchester



A new ‘proudly local’ radio station is launching in Manchester which will bring together a host of well-known local radio and TV personalities, including former Key 103 DJs Chelsea Norris, Steve Penk, Spence Macdonald and Darren Proctor. Happy Radio UK is the brainchild of former Key 103 and Greatest Hits DJ Darren Proctor and festival organizer Max Eden, who teamed up to launch the brand new local radio station.

The presenter lineup sees those old Key 103 favorites like Chelsea, Spence and Steve all back on the same station for the first time in years. Former Key 103 breakfast presenter Spence will appear on Happy Radio’s flagship breakfast show while Steve Penk, famed for his radio remounts, will be on the air in the afternoon. Darren will be mid-morning while Chelsea will put on a weekend show every Saturday.

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Real Housewives of Cheshire star Lauren Simon is also on board to host her own ‘Happy Hour’ each day from 3-4pm. His new radio career is set to feature in the upcoming 15th series of the ITVBe show which is currently filming.

Darren and his business partner Max, who runs the Hale Barns Carnival and Bowdonbury Festival, have teamed up to ‘spearhead the return of local radio‘ and have invested in new radio studios in Sale ahead of the full launch from Happy Radio UK on April 4th. Their aim is to bring “true local radio” back to the region, amid moves by the commercial radio sector to become increasingly national in their approach.

Max Eden and Darren Proctor launch Happy Radio in South Manchester and Cheshire

Darren said: “During the Covid lockdowns we could see there was a huge gap for proper local radio in our area. The way things are going with commercial radio is everything becomes national.

“It suits them to cover the whole of the UK, that’s their business plan, but there’s still a real need for local radio and that’s what people want.

“We wanted a radio station that plays music that makes you feel good, nice up-tempo songs, something that makes you feel good. Put that positivity back in the area.

“It will look like a big national radio station, but it’s local. We’ll stand up for local events and local people.”

Real Housewives star Lauren Simon to host her “Happy Hour” on the radio station

Happy Radio will be broadcast in South Manchester and Cheshire, hoping to spread further as the station progresses, and will be available to listen on Alexa Smart Speaker, via the Happy Radio UK app on iOS / Android and will be broadcast on DAB in a few weeks time.

The all-new radio station will launch on Monday, April 4 at 7:00 a.m. Full weekday programming will see Spence Macdonald from 7am-10am, Darren Proctor from 10am-1pm, Steve Penk from 1pm-3pm, Lauren Simon from 3pm-4pm, Ian Roberts and Michelle Eagleton from 4pm-7pm and Jason Hardy from 7pm-10pm .

Popular former Key 103 and BBC Radio Manchester presenter Chelsea will present her new Saturday show from 10am-12pm. Meanwhile, Paul Crone of Granada TV will present “The Cronezone Show” on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Popular former Key 103 DJ Steve Penk will have his own show on Happy Radio

Darren said bringing everyone together sparked a lot of conversations about the happy years at Key 103 at the time – and they hoped to bring back the best of those times with Happy Radio UK. There are plans for more outside shows and radio roadshows which proved so popular at the time.

Darren, from Bowdon, said: “It was brilliant, I’m not saying the old days were the best times, but when you lived here what fantastic memories we gave to everyone who listened, and I thought just said why not There’s no reason you can’t do it again It’s all about having fun, getting out and being seen in the area We want to have a good time with and make it a credible and well-known brand.

Max, from Wilmslow, added: “You want a local radio station to be out there, on the high street and at events, we want to be really active in the area so it has that presence. We are both of us really passionate about both as local residents ourselves and we want to champion and promote all things local and give local businesses a great local platform to promote their businesses.”

Darren launches Happy Radio

Darren started at Key 103 in 1999 and stayed with the station when it was renamed Hits Radio and Greatest Hits in 2018, but left in December.

He said: “At the start of the new year I started telling people about my arrival, people I’ve worked with over the years. All the people we’ve involved not only do we know them, they’re the people who really want to do it, to bring back that one-to-one connection that people think is missing in commercial radio right now.

“Everyone is saying how much they miss the old Key 103 Days and the response I’ve had is already amazing.”

Happy Radio UK will launch on Monday 4th April 2022, you can download the brand new Happy Radio UK app from

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