Sir Richard Branson has revealed how he persuaded Chris Evans to join Virgin Radio – during a BBC Radio 2 appearance.
Speaking about Evans on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Branson explained how he coaxed the DJ to leave the station after 13 years while a guest on Evans’ Breakfast show last October.
Explaining how Evans was originally signed to Virgin Radio in 1993, Branson told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid: “Well, 30 years ago I jumped on British Airways Concorde – much against my best wishes – because he [Evans] was travelling to New York, to try to persuade him to come and join Virgin Radio and we ended up being successful then.
“30 years later, I was doing an interview with him on the Beeb,” Branson went on. “And I know I shouldn’t have – maybe it was a slight discourtesy to the Beeb to steal one of their people – but I did suggest that maybe a change of scenery would be good for him.”
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Branson also suggested that it was the “freedom” Virgin offered, rather than any pay rise, that prompted Evans’ movie.
“I have no idea what he was earning at the BBC or even what he’s earning at Virgin. He just wanted a change,” he said. “Virgin gives him more freedom than the BBC and Chris is someone who values freedom over salary. This will put Virgin on the map.”
Evans will take over the Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio in the new year, finishing his Radio 2 show in December.
“In many ways Virgin Radio is my spiritual home,” Evans said in a statement. “I see nothing but exciting and groundbreaking opportunities ahead. In a medium that is changing so quickly on a daily basis, the potential for growth is unprecedented. Our plan is: to give it all we’ve got, see where we can get to and have the most possible fun along the way. It makes me smile every time I think about it.”
He will be replacing Sam Pinkham and Amy Voce, who will remain a “part of the Virgin Radio team” according to Wireless CEO Scott Staunton.