MEDIA: VIRGIN RADIO BREAKFAST SHOW - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Paul Burke finds himself stuck in a time warp as Virgin's early morning offer fails to impress

Older readers will remember that Radio 1, in its heyday, could be found on 247 metres medium wave. This morning, I tuned my old 70s transistor back to 247 metres and found that this now translates as 1215 AM. It was like entering a time warp. There, at the exact spot on the dial from which the Hairy Cornflake once entertained the nation, we now find another bland and predictably "zany


Welcome to the Daryl Denham Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio. Like its late and unlamented forerunner, this is the place to hear the hits of the day plus a safe selection of "oldies

that are all too depressingly familiar. The music is interspersed with some dismally unoriginal "satire

involving spoof news stories and celebrity trivia. Put it this way, it's not exactly Brass Eye.

That said, the new programme is a huge improvement on the old one. Denham is a natural and likeable broadcaster, considerably more talented than his predecessor, the truly execrable Steve Penk. What's more, you get the impression that Daryl could be a hell of a lot better if only his bosses would let him. The poor bloke clearly has to work under the most awful strictures of format, having to repeat, ironically enough, "Virgin - no repeat nine to five

approximately every 12 seconds.

And that wasn't the only repetitive part of the show. The spoof news stories were trotted out at least three times but the real irritation that will have listeners tuning out in their droves was hearing the same four or five ads repeated time after time after time.

The impression you get, which Virgin will no doubt deny, is that the station seems unable to attract more than a handful of advertisers, even on its flagship breakfast show. It's not difficult to see why.

On TV and particularly in the press, editors and programme-makers know that the best way to pull in advertising revenue is to improve the quality of their output. Make advertisers desperate to be part of that output.

You would think that Virgin and particularly Capital Radio would take some heed of this, but their indolence and complacency is breathtaking.

And all the time the BBC, by investing in talented presenters and giving them all a freer rein, increases its market share at the expense of the commercial sector.

This is a pity since commercial radio was always the fresh alternative to the stale bland old BBC. Now it's the other way round.

Virgin's Breakfast Show, through no fault of its presenter, simply isn't good enough. In the days of "247 - Radio 1", this wouldn't really have mattered, because we didn't have much choice.

Nowadays, thankfully, we have.

- Paul Burke, a copywriter at BMP DDB, usually prefers to listen to Danny Baker or Terry Wogan in the morning.