1993: Part of the UK's first wave of national commercial radio stations (Classic FM had launched the previous September), Virgin Radio debuts on 30 April 1993 with a special show introduced by the owner, Richard Branson, live from the Virgin Megastore in Manchester. It soon attracts a loyal (and relatively lucrative) audience base among the older rock fans abandoned by Radio 1 in its renewed drive to appeal to a teenage audience.
1997: Chris Evans had begun a turbulent relationship with Virgin, going right back to its earliest days. But not long after rejoining in September 1997, the maverick DJ stuns the media world by announcing he is buying the station from Branson for £83 million.
2001: In 2000, Evans had been made an offer he'd have been silly to refuse and had sold Virgin to SMG for £225 million, though he stayed on to present its breakfast show. But the next year, Evans and SMG have a spectacular falling out when he goes AWOL for five days. Evans sues SMG for unpaid share options; SMG counter-sues for breach of contract. A messy High Court hearing follows - and Evans loses spectacularly.
2006: SMG, which had acquired Virgin under the then chief executive, Andrew Flanagan, makes increasingly desperate attempts to offload its radio asset - but a flotation plan comes to nothing and talks with a number of possible buyers are similarly fruitless.
2008: In June, SMG had at last found a buyer, with The Times of India Group paying £53 million and housing the station in its Absolute Radio subsidiary. In September (having declined an invitation to pay £8 million a year to licence the Virgin brand name), it is relaunched as Absolute Radio with a mission to help listeners "discover new music" and offering "more attitude and naughtiness than a Rolling Stones backstage party".
Fast forward ...
2013: Despite continuing worries (first raised in 2008) that the radio medium is little more than a propaganda conduit for the delights of binge-drinking, the station is sold to Pernod Ricard and handed over to its Absolut Vodka division as the UK's first advertiser-funded media brand. Its managing director, Sir Christopher Moyles, denies being irresponsible when he launches a campaign branding the station a "pure Absolut with added e".
This article was first published on Campaign