Virgin Radio carves younger niche with new digital station

LONDON – Virgin Radio is taking on Xfm with a digital-only station, Virgin Radio Xtreme, targeting young, contemporary rock listeners on DAB in London and on Sky and the internet, from September 5.

The launch is the brand's third digital station spin-off from Virgin Radio, its nationwide AM and DAB and London FM station. Its website will be virginradioxtreme.co.uk.

Virgin Radio Classic Rock and Virgin Radio Groove also broadcast on DAB in London, Sky and the internet, and attract 127,000 and 74,000 weekly listeners respectively.

According to Paul Jackson, acting chief executive of Virgin Radio, the station will be "on the edge of the best new music". Listeners are likely to hear new bands such as Bloc Party, along with recent successes The Killers and established artists such as Blur.

The station will not initially offer any live programming. A spokesman for Virgin Radio said that the station would take the same approach as Virgin Radio Classic Rock has done, building from a jukebox to add specialist shows and then live DJs.

GCap's Planet Rock has only just hired its first live DJ Nicky Horne after six years of operation and having grown its audience to 382,000.

The station will also compete with BBC digital station 6Music, which does have presenters including Steve Lamacq and Mark Riley.

It will be marketed through online partnerships with iTunes and Real Network as well as PR and events activity.

There will be further digital spin-offs from Virgin Radio Groove including an R&B station for young listeners and a classic soul station for older listeners.

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