Absolute Radio

Absolute Radio

Infobox Radio station
name = Absolute Radio

city =
area = UK:
National (AM);
London (FM)
branding =
slogan = "Discover REAL music"
airdate = As Virgin Radio
April 30, 1993
As Absolute Radio
September 29, 2008
frequency = 1215 kHz, AM Variants 105.8 MHz (G. London) DAB - (Digital One)
- 11D (England & Wales) - 12A (Scotland) Sky Digital: 0107 Virgin Media: 915 Freeview: 727 Freesat: 724 Tiscali TV: 620 WightCable: 851/9 Orbit Network: 127 Usen (Japan): CG3
share = 0.8% (National) 2.8% (London)
share as of =
June 2008
share source = [http://www.rajar.co.uk/listening/quarterly_listening.php]
format = Classic & Current Rock
power =
erp =
class =
callsign_meaning =
former_callsigns =
owner = TIML Golden Square Limited
sister_stations =
webcast =
website = [http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk www.absoluteradio.co.uk]
affiliations =

Absolute Radio, (originally known as Virgin Radio), is one of the UK's three Independent National Radio stations. The station rebranded to its current name at 7.45am on 29 September 2008.cite web|url=http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=62526&d=254&h=5&f=3/|title=Absolute Radio signs exclusive Sony Ericsson ad deal|last=Parry|first=Coroline|date=2008-09-18|accessdate=2008-09-18|publisher=Marketing Week] cite web|url=http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/842893/Plans-revealed-rebrand-Virgin-Radio-Absolute/|title=Plans revealed to rebrand Virgin Radio as Absolute|last=Barnett|first=Emma|date=2008-09-01|accessdate=2008-09-01|publisher=Brand Republic]

The station is based in London and plays popular rock music. It currently broadcasts on mediumwave and DAB across the UK, on 105.8 FM in London, Sky Digital (channel 0107), Virgin Media (channel 915), Freeview (channel 727) and Tiscali TV (channel 620). The station also recently launched on the new free to air satellite service Freesat (channel 724). It is also available in other parts of the world via satellite, cable, and on the Internet.


Originally called Virgin 1215, it was launched nationally on 1215 kHz (although some regional transmitters used other frequencies) at 12.15pm on 30 April 1993.

The first song was a special version of the Steppenwolf song "Born to be Wild", recorded by Australian group INXS. Richard Branson was the first voice to-air, live from the Virgin Megastore in Manchester. The first voice in the studio was Richard Skinner.

Some months later after the station launched, it also began broadcasting in stereo on satellite via Sky Television. This has continued with the switchover to digital broadcasting. Virgin Radio later acquired a local FM franchise for London, allowing it to broadcast on 105.8 FM in that area. This service launched on 10 April 1995 and initially carried regional programming for the London area, although this has now ceased.

Ginger Media Group, SMG & Times Group

The station was then sold to Ginger Media, owned by Chris Evans, who was a mainstay on the station, presenting a breakfast show from 1997 until 2001. Evans sold Ginger Media to SMG plc (now "STV Group plc") for £225 million GBP in March 2000 and was subsequently fired by his new employer in 2001 for failing to report into work for 5 consecutive days while reportedly partying with his then wife Billie Piper. [cite news
title = Virgin axes DJ Evans
publisher = BBC News
date = 28 June 2001
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/showbiz/1412225.stm
accessdate = 2007-11-27
] [cite news
title = Tuned in to Virgin
publisher = The Guardian
date = 25 September 2006
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/showbiz/1412225.stm
accessdate = 2007-11-27

On June 13, 2006 SMG plc signed a deal with YooMedia to make Virgin Radio available on Freeview. It has always placed a great emphasis on other methods of transmission than medium wave, as the 1215 kHz frequency suffers from considerable interference, particularly after dark - BBC Radio 1, which used 1215 kHz for its first eleven years on air, moved to higher-quality medium wave frequencies (now used by talkSport) in 1978 mainly for this reason.

On June 1, Bennett, Coleman & Co. aka Times Group (an Indian media conglomerate) agreed to buy Virgin Radio (sans the Virgin brand) for $104 million with British radio consultancy firm and radio operator Absolute Radio UK as its British partner, although the financial backing for the deal comes from Bennet, Coleman & Co. The deal was expected to be formalised at a meeting of shareholders of owners STV Group plc (formerly "SMG plc") in July.

Sale to TIML Golden Square ltd

On 12 April 2007, it was announced that SMG plc are to sell Virgin Radio, to enable the company to focus on its television station, STV. [cite news
title = SMG strategy was 'flawed'
publisher = The Guardian
date = 12 April 2007
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/apr/12/smg.radio
accessdate = 2007-11-27
] On May 30, 2008 SMG sold Virgin Radio to TIML Golden Square Limited, a subsidiary of the Times of India Group for £53.2 million with £15 million set aside for rebranding. TIML were given 90 days grace in which to rebrand the station. [cite web|url=http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/telecoms/article4036887.ece|title=Virgin Radio is sold to Absolute for £53.2m|last=Andrews|first=Amanda|date=2008-05-30|accessdate=2008-05-30|publisher=The Times] [cite web|url=http://www.radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.3454.2|title=Virgin Radio sold for £53million|date=2008-05-30|accessdate=2008-05-30|publisher=Radio Today]

On 1 September 2008 it was announced that Virgin Radio would be rebranded as Absolute Radio on 28 September 2008. It was also announced that JK and Joel, Robin Burke, Tony Hadley & John Osbourne would be leaving the station and that Allan Lake, Jo Russell (Jo and Twiggy) and Tim Shaw would be joining the new Absolute Radio. [cite web|url=http://www.virginradio.co.uk/about/questions.html|title=Listeners' Questions about Absolute Radio|date=2008-09-01|accessdate=2008-09-01|publisher=VirginRadio.co.uk]


* Christian O'Connell - Weekdays 6-10am and Sunday 12-2pm
* Russ Williams - Weekdays 10am-1pm
* Nick Jackson - Weekdays 1-5pm and Sunday 6-9am
* Geoff Lloyd - Monday-Thursday 5pm-8pm, Friday 5pm-7pm, Saturday 12-3pm
* Ben Jones - Monday-Thursday 8pm-12am, Sunday 6pm-10pm
* Tim Lichfield - Monday 1-4am; Tuesday - Thursday 12-4am
* Allan Lake - Thursdays and Fridays 4-6am, Saturdays 1-6am
* Sarah Champion - Friday 12 - 4am
* Jo Russell - Coming Soon
* Tim Shaw - Friday and Saturday 10pm -1am
* Neil Francis - Fridays 7-10pm, Saturdays 6 - 9am
* John Osborne - Leaving Soon
* Leona Graham - Saturday 6-10pm, Sunday 2-6pm
* Iain Lee - Sunday Night Show Sunday 10pm-1am
* Graeme Smith - Sunday 1-6am
* JK and Joel - Saturday and Sunday Lunchtimes, Thursday & Friday Early Breakfast


* Tony Hadley - Party Classics
* Suggs - Afternoon Tea
* Holly Samos - Breakfast Show
* Robin Burke - Early Breakfast

Cover presenters

Cover presenters have included many notable people.These have included:
* Shane Richie bank holiday Monday show
* Keith Chegwin Cheggers plays rock
* Jon Culshaw The Sunday night show
* Peter Jarrod (aka Peter Poulton and Bam Bam) The Sunday night show, The Geoff Show

Virgin Radio's original line-up included Russ Williams, Richard Skinner, Mitch Johnson, Tommy Vance, Jonathan Coleman, Nick Abbot and Wendy Lloyd. Other past presenters on the network include Danny Baker, Robin Banks, Greg Burns, Martin Collins, Gary Davies, Daryl Denham, Chris Evans (who also owned the station), Mark Fox, Alan Freeman, Nicky Horne, Janey Lee Grace, Gary King, Jezza (aka Jeremy Kyle), Tim Lovejoy, Kevin Greening, Pete Mitchell, Al Murray, James Merritt, Lynn Parsons, Vic Reeves, Richard Skinner, Suggs, Clive Warren, Sandy Beech and many others.

The Station, its audience and playlist

Before the relaunch, Virgin Radio's former chief executive Fru Hazlitt, when interviewed for "The Guardian" (September 25, 2006), described what type of music the station champions. When told of comparisons between Virgin and other MOR, or "Middle-of-the-road" music radio stations, such as BBC Radio 2, she remarked that "that was [during] the Chris Evans era. Now, it's pretty much mainstream rock festival type music. Razorlight, Keane. These bands are becoming some of the biggest in the world."

The station's output does mainly consist of contemporary British-based guitar "MOR" rock-pop bands, such as the aforementioned Keane and Razorlight but also artists like Coldplay, Snow Patrol and The Feeling. It also plays various other "Adult album alternative" artists from Britain, Ireland and America, like Oasis, U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M. and The Killers, as well as "Golden Oldies" such as The Beatles, Queen, The Clash and The Who to name a few.

Absolute Radio's target audience is predominantly those aged 25-44. [cite news
title = Tuned in to Virgin
publisher = The Guardian
date = 25 September 2006
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/sep/25/commercialradio.radio
accessdate = 2007-11-27
] Its "spin-off" digital radio stations (see below) exploit the 'niche' musical tastes of this target audience, and leans on a particular rock sub-genre that is played on Absolute Radio, or to cater for an audience that is within its target demographic but are not served properly by the flagship station.

However, despite its popularity, the station has received criticisms for its seldom rotating playlists. The criticisms focus around the playing of the same songs throughout the day, for example more than once on each radio "show". [ [http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2007/04/digital_rock_radio_on_a_roll_1.html Digital rock radio on a roll? | Organgrinder | guardian.co.uk ] ] [ [http://www.ciao.co.uk/Drivetime_with_Harriet_Scott_Virgin_Radio__52060 Drivetime with Harriet Scott (Virgin Radio) : Read reviews and compare prices at Ciao.co.uk ] ] [ [http://www.madcomments.co.uk/can-xfm-have-an-indie-summer/ Marketing Advertising Design Blog - Insight, News & Views of the mad.co.uk news » Can Xfm have an indie summer? ] ]


In a number of areas, particularly in areas where the signal from the main 1215 transmitters overlap with each other, Virgin Radio operates a number of filler transmitters on different frequencies :-

* 1197 kHz - Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, South Devon, Dorset, South Essex, Gloucester, Oxford, South Nottinghamshire, Medway, Merseyside
* 1233 kHz - Berkshire, North Essex, Northampton, Sheffield, Swindon, Gatwick
* 1242 kHz - Cleveland, Dundee, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire
* 1260 kHz - Guildford, East Kent

=Spin-off stations=

During SMG plc's running of the station, the company launched a number of spin-off stations within its then called Virgin Radio Network. These are:

Absolute Classic Rock

A radio station on DAB, Virgin Media, Sky Digital and the Internet playing classic rock from the sixties to the nineties.Absolute Classic Rock launched as Virgin Radio Classic Rock, with live presenters (Richard Skinner, Gordon Loncaster and Alice Cooper) by Lali Parikh.

Absolute Xtreme

A radio station on DAB, Virgin Media, Sky and the Internet which plays rock music, and is aimed at teenage males.Absolute Xtreme was launched as Virgin Radio Xtreme on September 5, 2005, by Lali Parikh (Station Manager) with Steve Harris being the main on air talent.

All 'Absolute' branded channels broadcast on DAB in London, the Internet, Virgin Media cable television and Sky Digital.

=Ex-Virgin Radio Spin-off stations=

During the last year of Virgin Radio being owned by SMG plc's they removed some of Virgin Radio Network by closing them down. These were:

Virgin Radio Viva

Virgin Radio Viva, which was due to launch on the new Channel 4 platform in 2009, aimed at 15- to 29-year-old women, will now not go ahead. [cite news
title = Virgin Radio cuts back digital operation
publisher = VirginRadioWorld.com
date = November 2007
url = http://www.bnnnews.it/virginsite.asp?MyVar=cuts
accessdate = 2007-11-27

Virgin Radio Groove

A radio station on DAB, Virgin Media, Sky and the Internet which played motown, soul and disco music. Virgin Radio Groove closed at the end of 2007. [cite news
title = Virgin Radio cuts back digital operation
publisher = VirginRadioWorld.com
date = November 2007
url = http://www.bnnnews.it/virginsite.asp?MyVar=cuts
accessdate = 2007-11-27

Virgin Radio Party Classics

Launched on Thursday 15 June 2006, Virgin Radio Party Classics played party pop music. The radio station was based on Suggs' "Virgin Party Classics" show broadcast on Virgin Radio. The station closed down on Friday 13 October 2006.

All 'Virgin' branded channels broadcast was on DAB in London, the Internet, Virgin Media cable television and Sky Digital.


External links

* [http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk AbsoluteRadio.co.uk]
* [http://network.absoluteradio.co.uk Absolute Radio Player]
* [http://www.virginradio.com Virgin Radio International]
* [http://intervalsignals.net/files/ukg-z-virgin_radio_am_300493.m3u The launch of Virgin 1215 (audio file)]

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