Launching Virgin Radio UK

Richard Branson with Virgin Radio UK DJs
Image from Virgin Radio UK
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 30 March 2016

From the railways to the airwaves, it’s great to have Virgin Radio UK back. Yesterday we became the first ever national radio station to launch from a moving train.

A Virgin Train with We're Back on the side
Image from Virgin Radio UK

Virgin Trains newly-named Virgin Radio Star left Manchester Piccadilly and journeyed across the country jam-packed with brilliant bands and our new hosts, led by Edith Bowman and Matt Richardson.

Video from Virgin Radio UK

I dialed in to speak to Edith and Matt at 2:05, and got a bit of a surprise. Edith said I might recognise the next voice, and it was my son Sam sitting next to her on the train. With all of the great bands performing around him, I reminded Sam he is a very talented musician too, but he resisted grabbing a guitar.

Sam Branson on a Virgin Train with Virgin Radio UK DJs for the launch of Virgin Radio UK in 2016
Image from Virgin Radio UK

There was a fantastic jam session though, with Travis, Mystery Jets, Walking On Cars, Gavin James and The Feeling joining together to perform – you guessed it – Like A Virgin on the moving train.

A band performs on a Virgin Train for the launch of Virgin Radio UK in 2016
Image from Virgin Radio UK

When it was time to request a song, the first band that came to mind were the Stereophonics, who were the first band we signed to our V2 Records label. I was so keen to sign them that I called up Kelly’s house. His mum answered the phone. When I told her it was Richard Branson, she replied: “If you’re Richard Branson, then I’m Mrs Elvis Presley!” and promptly hung up! Thankfully, I called back and we signed the band, and they’ve gone on to great things. When I signed the band in 1996, I told the media: “"I heard a tape of the Stereophonics and knew they were going to be a band for the future. I think they could still be around in 20 years or more." That’s one prediction I got right!

The Stereophonics perform with the Virgin logo in the background
Image from Getty Images

When the train arrived in Euston, it was met by a raucous crowd of Virgin staff – welcome to the family Virgin Radio!   

Sam Branson posing with Virgin Radio UK employees
Image from Virgin Radio UK

To join the fun, retune your digital radio, download the app, and listen now.