Radio VIVA! 963AM The launch

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The Independent Culture
Few men, if they're honest about it, understand women. So one of the great services that can be performed by Viva!, London's new station run by women for women, is to give men some idea of what's going on in women's minds. And the first day and a half of transmission has been an eye-opener.

Of course, we always knew that women weren't interested in laddish things like sport and business, which presumably explains the absence of references to either subject in the news bulletins. There have been some surprises, though. For instance, did you know that women were so interested in hearing interviews with pop stars of the late Seventies? Me neither, but yesterday there they were, Toyah Willcox and Chrissie Hynde, occupying prime slots on Tara Newley's late-morning slot and Lynne Franks's lunchtime show.

And surely few of us men can have had any idea just how interested women are in Van Morrison. Normally, you can go weeks without hearing a single Van record, but on Viva! you can't get away from him for five minutes together (even as I write this, Lynne Franks has started playing "Have I told you lately that I love you?").

And then there's the Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Doobie Brothers.

You get the idea that Viva! doesn't have a very high opinion of its audience's taste in music or conversation: soft rock meets banal chat. The saddest part so far has been the breakfast show, in which co-presenters Bill Overton and Annie Webster demonstrate a lack of chemistry rarely achieved without the use of sedatives ("That was marvellous Marvin Gaye with 'Let's Get It On' - sounds like a good idea," Webster says. "Hang on," says Overton, with a giggle, "We've got to do the traffic news first").

Mostly, Viva! offers the risk-taking, ground-breaking editorial style you associate with, say, She magazine, but without the slickness. At its best, it manages a Cosmo-style smuttiness - Monday morning, for instance, had agony aunt Karen Krizanovich on the subject of break-up lines, saying that the worst she had ever had was "You're just too intelligent", which she interpreted as meaning "It's not touching the sides."

On Monday afternoon, Diana Luke was sparring with a (male) psychologist who had produced a feminist-backlash book, complaining about some of things he had written about women: one line that particularly annoyed her was his assertion that women make the best misogynists. If this is what women think other women deserve, he may have had a point.