10 facts you didn't know about Virgin Radio

Author Image for Jack Preston


Content Manager


Virgin Radio

Virgin Radio is 20 years old today, having been launched by Richard Bransonat 12.15pm on April 30th, 1993. Since its birth the radio network has travelled to all corners of the earth and has seen some spectacular appointments and acquisitions.

To celebrate two decades of the much loved music station were looking back at some of the highlights from Virgin Radio over the years. So without further ado, did you know that

1. The first voice to be heard on Virgin Radio was none other than Richard Bransons, with the inaugural show coming straight out of the Virgin Megastore in Manchester.

2. The first song to be playedon the station was Born to be Wild by INXS a cover of the Steppenwolf classic.

3. The first interview to be conducted was with Midge Ure.

4. Virgin Radio was the first of its kind. It wasnt until the 1990 Broadcasting Act that independent radio stations were allowed to launch, with Classic FM, Talk Radio and Virgin Radio being handed the first licenses.

5. Richard Branson boarded Concorde to try and persuade Chris Evans to join Virgin Radio. In the wake of Evans falling out with Radio One in 1997, the Virgin Founder decided he would be the perfect man for Virgin Radio. So much so he was even willing to jump on a Concorde flight to New York with Evans, in the height of British Airways dirty tricks campaign against Virgin Atlantic, to try and persuade him to sign provided Evans paid for his ticket.

Despite Bransons best efforts, he wasnt able to convince him on this occasion, as Evans explains: I was witnessing one of Richards infamous 'deals on the back of an envelope', except this time it was on the back of a Concorde dinner menu. I was transfixed with what was happening - his attention to detail was fascinating. The questions, crossings-out and rewriting continued for 30 minutes until, satisfied, Richard declared the agreement complete.

I could now also see there was very clearly a place for my signature. 'There you go,' said Richard, 'why don't you put your name to that?' Although on this occasion he had left empty-handed.

6. Chris Evans paid 87million for Virgin Radio in 1998. Branson neednt have worried that the Concorde episode didnt come up trumps, six months later a far greater deal was struck between the pair at his home in Holland Park.

7. The Advertising Standards Authority banned a nude Virgin Radio breakfast show poster. Featuring hosts Russ Williams and Jono Coleman (pictured above), placed beside the side of the A40 heading into London, the ASA claimed Jonos physical appearance was too much of a gross distraction for drivers.

8. Chris Evans was fired from Virgin Radio in 2001. With the station under new management, following Evans Ginger Media Group selling the station to the Scottish Media Group in 2000, Evans was relieved of his duties after failing to turn up for five consecutive days.

9. Virgin Radio was rebranded as Absolute Radio in 2008, following yet another sale. This time the Scottish Media Group struck up a deal TIML Golden Square Limited.

10. Following Virgins success in UK radio, Virgin Radio International was launched in 2001 and has now established radio stations in Canada, France, Italy, Turkey, Dubai, India and Thailand with many more in the pipeline..

If you'd like to find out more about the Virgin story, why not head over to our Tumblr...

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