Virgin puts emphasis on albums

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The Independent Online
A NEW national commercial radio station set up to rival Radio 1 will ban Michael Jackson and Madonna from its playlists. Instead, it will woo record buyers in their twenties and thirties with album tracks, new acts and heavier rock music, writes David Lister.

Virgin Radio, part of Richard Branson's empire, which will pay pounds 1.8m a year for the next eight years to broadcast on the old Radio 3 AM frequency, will launch nationally at the end of March.

It has parted with its founder programme director Andrew Marshall, and appointed the former Radio 1 DJ Richard Skinner and the radio producer John Revell as joint programme directors.

The 24-hour station plans to differ from Radio 1 by broadcasting 80 per cent music with few interviews, weather reports and chats, and having a musical diet akin to the magazine Q, which aims for older rock fans.

Elly Smith, spokeswoman for Virgin Radio which will broadcast from Woking, Surrey, said: 'There will be no rap, no dance music (and) no programmes bound to the singles charts which are so appalling these days.'