Written by Media, Radio

More on the Virgin Radio Sale And Other Radio News

A couple of people have asked me why I haven’t blogged more on the sale of Virgin Radio to TIML that was announced on Friday evening.
The problem is that you have to tread very carefully when blogging about your employer. So I’m not going to say a great deal more, but as ever, what I do say represents my personal thoughts and not necessarily those of my employer.
Anyway, I suggest you go and read James Cridland’s thoughts on the sale which, unsurprisingly, are balanced and fair.
I was slightly amused by this:
A few weeks ago I met someone from Virgin Media, and he noted that Virgin Radio, my previous employer, had rather unhelpfully accepted sponsorship from Sky for their breakfast show just when Virgin Media was launching.
This does highlight the issue that Virgin Radio has always faced – the use of the Virgin brand name can be both a blessing and a curse. The assumption often made by both the public and other businesses is that all the Virgin brands are related, when in fact they’re largely all licencees of the Virgin Group. This has led to problems in the past with some brands not willing to advertise on Virgin Radio because we are considered a partner to one of their brands’ competitors. For example, at times both British Airways and Coca-Cola wouldn’t spend because of the existance of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Cola, despite Virgin Radio having nothing to do with them (Entertainingly, we’ve always had the fridge at work stocked with “the real thing”).
John Plunkett at Media Guardain has a blog on the sale too. Although note to John: in the last year, Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen has been played precisely once on Virgin Radio (Sunday March 9 at 8.50pm – he must have been listening). And I’ve refrained from pointing out to one commentator that at 160kbps, Virgin Radio is second only to Radio 3 as having the highest bitrate of any UK DAB station (alongside Classic FM).
Elsewhere it’s been a busy time for radio in the past few days. Planet Rock has been sold to an entrepreneur named Malcolm Bluemel, much to Brian May’s chagrin. It will continue to be named Planet Rock.
And Xfm South Wales has been sold to Town and Country Broadcasting headed up by Jason Bryant – late of these parts. The issue for GCap with that particular station was that they weren’t going to be able to network its programming as they’re able to on other Xfm services in Manchester, London and Scotland. Since the station only launched at the end of last year, and its format promised lots of local programming, Ofcom rules mean that they’re not able to back out of that promise for a couple of years. If other Town and Country services are anything to go by, making the service truly local will be a key aim for the newly renamed Nation Radio.
Meanwhile Moz Dee at Talksport has been busy signing up people. Stan Collymore has joined for a show and co-commentator work. Despite his, er, eratic private life, he’s actually a really good football summariser. He’ll be missed by Five Live. And today they announced that Danny Kelly’s joining Talksport. He’s going to be sharing presenting duties with Collymore – Talksport having just pulled off a classic “double-dip” piece of PR, by announcing the two halves of the deal separately!
Sadly, this probably means that the Baker and Kelly show probably isn’t going to be returning imminently following the Wippit fiasco of last year. In the meantime, Danny Baker’s back doing 606 on Five Live during Euro 2008.
Finally, NME Radio has begun test transmissions. They’ve got plenty of their own stunt broadcasting through their launch period with Ricky Gervais doing a show, and the first DJs being announced. At time of writing, it’s not on DAB in London, but I’ll keep looking out for it. I note that they’ve got a promotional RSL in NW London due later in the year.
Actually, the list of upcoming RSLs is fascinating. I see that for the Wimbledon tennis tournament, instead of the usual single FM service running in parallel with the fortnight, they’ve got two additional services covering centre court and number one court. The other unmissable service coming soon is surely Watchtower radio – RSLs covering various Jehovah’s Witness conventions. They have a grand total of thirteen services due to come on stream. Also noteworthy is Lune Valley & Barrow Agility FM which will be covering a dog ability show.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough now. But If you’ve stumbled across this blog because you saw Kathryn Jacob’s My Media piece in Media Guardian today, then hello! I hope there’s something of interest here and I’m not too obscure for you.
[UPDATE] This Media Guardian interview with Clive Dickens is well worth a read. And there’s another piece giving some background on Times of India.
If you’re interested, Albion are the people who’ll be coming up with the new brand. When the new brand is announced, you’ll read about it here, er, well, second/third/fifth/something like that. In other words, once it’s public knowledge. They’ve got domains to register after all!