'Classic' Virgin takes on Radio 1: National commercial pop station launched

BRITAIN'S first national commercial pop station, Virgin 1215, was launched by Richard Branson yesterday. The first two tracks were announced by Richard Skinner as world exclusives: a specially recorded version of Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild' by INXS, and a specially recorded cover of Jimi Hendrix's 'Hey Joe' by The Cure. This was a double world exclusive - the station's first mistake. The track was actually Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'.

With the exclusives over it was into 'A Day In The Life' by The Beatles and then a new a cappella release from the Royal Mail extolling the virtues of conventional correspondence.

Traditionally, national pop radio, being the preserve of BBC Radio 1, has not had anything as tacky as adverts but yesterday Virgin was offering its 10 founder advertisers - including Carlsberg, Ambre Solaire and Kleenex - an hour each, broken up by its 'classic' records.

Danny Kelly, editor of Q Magazine, said he thought Radio 1 was not as vulnerable as some suggested. 'In the daytime Radio 1 is actually rather good - Steve Wright is probably the best radio broadcaster in the country - but Virgin should find an audience, even if it's just bits and pieces from lots of other stations.'

More than one-third of the population is between 25 and 45, the station's target audience, and Mr Branson wants to attract 4 million of them a week.

Stuart Bailie, assistant editor of the New Musical Express, was also grudgingly optimistic. Virgin 1215, he said, is for 'people who have nearly stopped listening to music, people on their way to the paddock. But just because millions of people buy Dire Straits albums doesn't mean their music is any good.

'But there are a lot of people out there with very sad taste, so the station could succeed.'

Mike Soutar, editor of Smash Hits, said: 'If it's a feel-good station, which Radio 1 is not, then it will succeed. But my readers won't be listening to it. They're all at school.'

The first hour on

Virgin 1215

Born to be Wild INXS

Purple Haze The Cure

A Day in the Life The Beatles

Commercial Break Royal Mail

A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall Bob Dylan

A Kind of Magic Queen

A New Flame Simply Red

Commercial Break Royal Mail

A Sort of Homecoming U2

Abacab Genesis

Commercial Break Royal Mail

News Headlines

Abracadabra Steve Miller

Accidents Will Happen Elvis Costello

Across The Universe The Beatles

The same hour on

Radio 1 FM

Fever Madonna

That's The Way Love Goes Janet Jackson

Shout Louchie Lou

The Proud One The Osmonds

Newsbeat (quarter hour news)

Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana

Two Princes The Spin Doctors

Oh Carolina] Shaggy

Tennessee Arrested Development

I Hate Everything About You Ugly Kid Joe

Ain't No Love Sub Sub

Blue Hotel Chris Isaak