The roots of Wire FM lie in 1990 when two presenters at Warrington's Hospital Radio Station, Stephen Cooper and Philip Houltby, decided to run an RSL station for Warrington. Stephen had had previous experience of this having been involved with a Special Event Station Waves AM in Peterhead. The station was duly organised and took to the air as Warrington Festival of Music Radio (WFMR) for two weeks in May 1991. The station broadcast from a borrowed portable cabin located behind the Warrington Town Hall Gates on 1602 kHz AM.
The station was successful in both audience response and commercial respects, and further broadcasts were made in the spring of 1992 and 1993. Stephen Armstrong-Smith and David Duffy joined the management team for these broadcasts, and a 14' touring caravan was converted into a mobile studio.
During 1994, the attraction of the caravan had waned. Also, funding for the Warrington Festival of Music had decreased with its main supporter, the Warrington & Runcorn Development Corporation, having reached the end of its life. In the 1994 broadcast presenters were also heard to refer to WFMR as Warrington's Favourite Music Radio not Warrington's Festival of Music Radio anymore. The decision was made to move 'indoors', sever the link with the Festival, and move to FM. This had significant risks, as costs for FM licences were higher, and new transmitters and studio equipment had to be bought. However, the broadcast went ahead during June 1994 from a 'Community House' on Nora street in the Howley Area of Warrington, borrowed from Warrington Borough Council.
The move to FM saw a step change in the popularity of the station with the audience and advertisers. It was decided to repeat the broadcast during November 1994, and the decision was made to change the station name from WFMR to Warrington FM again based at Nora Street. It was renamed Wire FM, to reflect Warrington's wire manufacturing heritage. At the beginning of 1995, Cheshire was added to the Radio Authority's list of locations where 'Sally' (Small Scale Alternative Location Licences) were to be advertised. This brought new impetuous and further RSLs were run in June and November 1995. Throughout this period, programming followed an unashamedly commercial format but with regular community features and with local news supplied by the Warrington Guardian.
During 1995, with the licence application pending, the Wire FM management team had initially formed an alliance with Marcher Group to bid for Warrington. However, Marcher were dropped in favour of the Independent Radio Group PLC (IRG) following their formation and subsequent successful bid for Wigan and St. Helens as Wish FM by Tony Dewhurst and Jeff Graham, who also authored this licence application. By this point Stephen Cooper had left the team, and Stephen Armstrong-Smith had joined IRG as their Regional Engineer.