There was an Alan Partridgesque moment on Chris Evans' breakfast show yesterday when he declared: "I am the son of God."
But you had to forgive the 31-year-old broadcaster his hubris. He had just pulled off an pounds 83m deal to become owner of Virgin Radio. Even American stars such as Bill Cosby have failed in their efforts to become media moguls - yet here is Evans, a man with an adventurous attitude to broadcasting regulations and a colourful social life, in the driving seat.
But can this putative messiah pull it off? Apax Partners, his backers, obviously think so, as must Richard Branson, who retains a 45 per cent stake in the station.
The City thinks the business plan is to float the radio station on the Stock Exchange in three to five years so that the backers can get their money back. But there is a long way to go before they get there.
In the entertainment industry, business conservatism goes against having the talent in charge of the money: "Running a radio station is a complicated business," says Paul Robinson, programming director of rival station Talk Radio.
"Creativity is important, but you also need a position in the market, you have to market to advertisers and listeners and crucially you have got to generate revenues."
But Evans is no stranger to business. His company Ginger Productions is valued at pounds 30m. He sells his own and other people's programmes to Channel 4 and Talk Radio. He is negotiating to keep his television programme, TFI Friday, on Channel 4 for two years with a price tag reported to be pounds 20m.
Yet some say this is all down to friend and partner John Revell. Revell, a former programming director at Virgin Radio, claims he keeps Evans calm and knows how to run the business side. Others are not so sure.
"John is certainly not a classic businessman," says one media executive. "He is disorganised, he can't keep a diary and I'm not sure he's got a natural financial brain."
Revell, like Evans, is applauded for being a great talent spotter and people manager: "They have a light touch," says client and rival Paul Robinson. "They get the best out of people by creating this melting pot of creativity."
The other candidate for the role of Svengali is Michael Foster. He is the agent at global talent agency ICM who looks after Evans and Ginger property Danny Baker. It is Foster who is credited with being Ginger's tough negotiator on programme deals. His talent is people management and programming.
Someone still needs to be nice to advertising agencies and advertisers: "Kellogg pulled out their sponsorship of the breakfast show when Evans arrived," says one media buyer. "The backers will worry if the maverick quality drives advertisers away."
Yet the prediction that Evans would be rude about Virgin's advertisers has not come true, and with his ratings going up - by an estimated 26 per cent in his first month - there will always be someone to fill a worried advertiser's place.
There is already a team at Virgin to do the nuts and bolts work. They were threatened with redundancy if Capital took over and are euphoric about Evans' purchase. Evans is keeping them all on board and has appointed Virgin chief executive David Campbell to chief executive - potentially the business brain - of Ginger Media Group.
The only other worry is the nuts and bolts of Evans himself. He had a well-publicised "rest" from the limelight last year when he admitted he was off the rails. His drinking can be prodigious. Yesterday on air he was joking regretfully about having signed away his mornings for the next five years as part of the deal.
Virgin sources say the pressure on the presenter has eased since he left the BBC, where management worried about his antics while simultaneously wanting him to rescue Radio 1.
The insiders say that contrary to reports, Radio 1 is not the station's target. Evans will steal listeners wherever he can.
Mr Branson and the venture capitalists must hope that the pressure to make back their money does not outweigh their biggest asset's happiness at being his own boss.Reuse content