Virgin Radio UK

Virgin Radio UK is a national Hot Adult Contemporary radio station in the United Kingdom that launched on 30 March 2016, owned by Wireless Group[1] which is itself a subsidiary of News Corp.[2] It is the second incarnation of Virgin Radio in the UK: the original station launched in 1993 before being rebranded as Absolute Radio in 2008.

Virgin Radio UK
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
FormatHot Adult Contemporary
OwnerWireless Group
First air date
30 March 2016 (2016-03-30)

As of September 2022, the station has a weekly audience of 1.3 million listeners according to RAJAR.[3]


The station launched at 11:00 on 30 March 2016 on a Virgin Trains service from Manchester to London by Edith Bowman and Matt Richardson and the first song played was a live cover version of David Bowie's song "Changes" by Gavin James.[4]

At launch, Virgin Radio UK broadcast to about 75% of the UK population via the Sound Digital DAB ensemble, and also broadcasts via online streaming to computers, mobile device applications and internet radios. It cannot be received outside of the UK.

The broadcasts are presented live from 04:00 to 01:00, and then music is played back-to-back overnight with pre-recorded announcements from rotating presenters from the day.

On 3 September 2018, Chris Evans announced that from January 2019 he would be moving to Virgin Radio after 13 years of broadcasting on BBC Radio 2.[5] He launched his new breakfast show on 21 January 2019.[6]

On 7 January 2019, Virgin Radio joined the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms.[7]

In January 2021[8] Graham Norton started a weekend show after 10 years at Radio 2. As with Chris Evans' show, it is distinguished by not having advertisements due to being wholly sponsored.

Sister stations

Wireless launched two new Virgin-branded DAB+ spin-off stations on 21 December 2018. Virgin Radio Anthems plays guitar-based classics from the 1980s and 1990s. Virgin Radio Chilled features acoustic singer-songwriters and is designed to unwind and relax.[9] Both stations broadcast The Chris Evans Breakfast Show. When Virgin Anthems launched in December 2018, the station changed its slogan to "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show and Classic Tracks".

On 30 December 2019, Virgin Radio UK launched a third digital spin-off station  Virgin Radio Groove  on DAB+. It consists of motown, soul and disco music and broadcasts The Chris Evans Breakfast Show at breakfast.

In June 2021[10] a temporary station launched for the LGBTQ+ community, Virgin Radio Pride; It featured many different programmes and documentaries presented by a wide variety of presenters. Virgin Radio Pride returned for a second run during summer 2022.

On 1 September 2022, the sister station Virgin Radio 80s Plus was launched, which play the artists from the 1980s, plus the best music from the late 1970s and early 1990s. Virgin Radio 80s Plus can be heard online, on smart speakers across the UK and on DAB in Greater London and the Central Belt of Scotland. It replaces Virgin Radio Pride on DAB radio.[11]

Notable presenters

Current presenters

Former presenters


  1. "18 radio stations confirmed for new DAB multiplex". Radio Today. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  2. Gallivan, Rory (25 June 2016). "News Corp Buys Wireless Group for $296 Million". The Wall Street Journal. New York. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  3. "RAJAR". Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  4. Clarkson, Natalie (16 March 2016). "Virgin Radio UK reveals launch plans" (Press release). Virgin Radio. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016.
  5. Savage, Mark (3 September 2018). "Chris Evans to leave Radio 2 breakfast". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  6. "Chris Evans launches new Virgin Radio breakfast show". BBC News. 22 January 2019.
  7. "Virgin Radio added to Freesat and Sky platforms". Radio Today. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. "Graham Norton joins Virgin Radio UK for weekends". RadioToday. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  9. "Virgin Radio UK launches two new digital spin-offs". Radio Today. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  10. "Wireless launches LGBTQ+ station Virgin Radio Pride UK". RadioToday. 3 June 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  11. Collins, Steve (31 August 2022). "Virgin Radio UK to launch new station Virgin Radio 80s Plus". RadioToday. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
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