All shiny and new…
Sweeping The Nation have already discussed the latest advertising push that’s gone on to publicise Virgin Radio’s rebranding/rebirth as Absolute Radio (although no word on the fantastically rushed bus adverts they’re running in London which just read “THE BOSS AND THE KAISER CHIEFS” or “THE POLICE AND THE KILLERS”, as if most music fans choose their radio station based on the station’s familiarity with thesauri), but we need to talk on this topic more.
Having had to deal with this takeover in my day job (finance journalism), here’s some background on it. Virgin Radio was, in June of this year, sold from the Scottish Media Group to India’s TIML Group for £53.3million. For their money TIML didn’t get ownership of the “Virgin Radio” brand (Virgin operate a radio station in India in collaboration with the Hindustan Times that runs in direct opposition to TIML, and Branson will be launching a “new” Virgin radio station in the UK within the next 12 months), but did get ownership of a radio station that’s license expires in 2011. So they’re spent over £50million on a two-and-a-half-year radio licence with no brand attached. Insert your own Mike Ashley gag here. Just for added information, Virgin Radio’s earnings before tax each year come to a massive £4million. I bet you’re kicking yourself right now for not jumping on the TIML bandwagon earlier, huh?
Previous efforts from TIML and Absolute Radio to capture the hearts and souls of the UK radio-listening public amount to Oxford’s Jack FM (at the time we wrote this piece they were playing The Feeling) and Liverpool’s Juice FM (at the time we wrote this, they were playing Scouting for Girls). Being as Absolute Radio seem to be convinced the world isn’t getting its RDA of The Hoosiers, expect more of the same from the Absolute brand’s UK-wide release. Actually, what we can expect is this direct quote from Absolute Radio CEO Donnach O’Driscoll (formerly of Atlantic 252, you know, that radio station that used to play Sash! every four fucking minutes during the 90s) that Absolute Radio has a mission to be: “Unapologetic, cheeky, and infectious”. Like Ivy the Terrible with norovirus.
It’s all a little dispiriting really for someone who, like myself, was a big Virgin Radio listener back as a 12/13 year old, being introduced to all these exciting new underground acts like Del Amitri and crate-digging favourites like Joe Jackson. Of course, every single fucking DJ was dreadful (Chris Evans sinking into alcoholism while randomly berating his “zoo” pack, Russ and Jono being of absolutely no use to anybody whatsoever, Ray Cokes in his fifteen minutes, Robin fucking Banks), but it was nice to hear a pre-career resurrection Jonathan Ross ponder the state of his fame (this was in the aftermath of The Big Big Talent Show) before conducting an interview with They Might Be Giants and announcing Virgin’s playlist policy as “two seconds by Texas and one by Tears for Fears”.
Unfortunately, even those three songs seem like a fucking treat compared to what Absolute is about to serve up.