VIVA! A TROUBLED HISTORY

July 1995: launched with much trumpeting, to the tune of pounds 1.5m, Viva! 963 hopes to reach 400,000 women between 25 and 45, broadcasting a 50/50 split of music and speech. Non-executive chair Lynne Franks says: "We want to be fun and sexy across all areas - politics, sex, the environment - all from a woman's perspective."

August 1995: departure of managing director, Katy Turner, credited with creating the Viva! concept. Insiders say that the station has not turned out to be what she envisaged. "We are over-stretched," says a freelancer, "and you can hear it in the programming."

September 1995: Richard Wheatly, former chairman of ad agency Leo Burnett, succeeds David Maker as Golden Rose's chief executive.

October 1995: figures reveal that in its first three months on air, the station has built up an audience of fewer than 125,000. Technical problems also meant that listeners in much of east London and the West End could not (and still cannot) receive the signal.

January 1996: station axes three presenters (Bill Overton, Annie Webster and Diana Luke), together with Lynne Franks' own chat show, aiming to reduce the annual budget from pounds 350,000 to pounds 150,000.

March 1996: a relaunch is announced within the year. Only days later audience figures confirm Viva! as London's least popular station, now attracting only 59,000 listeners. Even worse, they only tune in for an average of 20 minutes a day.

April 1996: station is bought for pounds 3m by Mohamed al-Fayed.

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