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August 28, 2014

LOCALS: Round-up of local radio Q3 RAJAR

Radio listening remains strong despite the summer of sport. Some stations enjoyed a large increase whilst others took a hit quarterly and yearly.

Bauer Media’s CFM has had a bad 12 months, dropping from 43% last year to 30%. It now has 74,000 listeners each week (down 33,000) – one of its lowest ever. But listeners aren’t switching to cross-town rival BBC Radio Cumbria because they have lost 41,000 listeners – down from 35% weekly reach to 25%.

At Orion, the regional re-brand is causing predicted problems as Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire has lost 35,000 listeners year-on-year since changing from Mercia and has seen its audience share drop from 9.7% in Q3 2011 to 6.6 in Q3 2012. Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire is also down, along with the station previously known as BRMB.

Orion Media Chief Executive, Phil Riley: ‘We are part the way through our brand-change programme, with significant marketing investment still to some. We have also moved our award-winning football coverage from FM to AM in the course of the change, with inevitable consequences for weekly reach across our network. With a great line up for our Live 2012 event, an amazing £750,000 raised for West Midlands charities; and continued great response from both advertisers and listeners to all we are doing, we are satisfied with progress’.

Over at UKRD, Wessex FM has added an extra 5,000 listeners and a 10% increase in hours in the last 12 months. Programme Manager James O’Neill, who also presents the Breakfast Show, said, “This has been a brilliant year for Wessex FM and proves that the UKRD policy of keeping our radio stations truly local is one that works. We play an active role in the community, we talk about what’s going on in our listeners’ lives, we’re always interactive with listeners, and we have lots of fun doing it.”

William Rogers, group boss: “This is a great RAJAR result for so many of our stations and confirms what we have been shouting about for ages; that genuinely local radio is alive, well, successful and kicking. Whether it’s great results at The Bee, Spire, Spirit, KLFM or Mix 96 or others in our portfolio which have held steady, we’ve seen strong increases in the majority of our stations and the results of locally driven radio with local teams getting out and about in their areas is clear. We will be continuing this strategy as it works really well. This is a great result for genuinely local commercial radio”

Heart North Wales continuing its upward trend, now at 26% reach, whilst Heart West Midlands is down to 690,000 listeners from 839,000 a year ago.

JACK Bristol is down year on year from 19% to 15% reach, following a peak in Q3 2011, and JACK Oxfordshire drops from 18% to 11% weekly reach in the same period. JACK fm South Coast however has doubled its reach in the last 12 months and reports its highest ever figures.

Other station showing a significant year on year increase includes KCFM 99.8 and BBC Radio Humberside. Those losing a large percentage of listeners year on year include Q100.5, Radio Aire, Radio Borders, Real Radio North East, North West and Scotland, Smooth Radio East Midlands, Sun FM, Wish FM, BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Jersey and BBC Radio Stoke. You can see details at radiotoday.co.uk/rajar.

At UTV Radio, Juice FM Liverpool has posted a 20% year on year audience growth to hit 221,000 listeners in the third quarter of 2012. The audience are listening for longer with a 32% year on year increase in hours. Graham Sarath, Station Director, said: “These figures are brilliant and clearly reflect the hard work we’ve put in to create entertaining radio. It’s the eleventh increase in the last twelve surveys and shows our popularity in the city. Staging massive events like the Juice FM Liverpool Style Awards cements our status as the ‘must listen’ station for Liverpool’s youth.”

Elsewhere, UTV’s West Yorkshire stations The Pulse and Pulse 2 posted combined hours to over 1 million. Flagship station Signal 1 across Staffordshire and South Cheshire grew its hours on the last quarter by 10% to push through the 3 million hours mark. Peak FM in Chesterfield increased its audience to just short of the 100,000 mark – the highest for 5 years.

Overall reach for BBC Local Radio in England came in at 6.7m or 15.9% – a reduction compared to last year 7.3 and 17.3% but stable on last quarter. Market share showed a reduction at 7.4% (compared to 7.9% last year and 7.7% last quarter).

David Holdsworth, Controller, English Regions: “The figures are not unexpected given the fantastic summer of Olympics on the BBC which had audiences across the country glued to their television sets watching the action unfold.”

3FM continues to rise – the station now has an all-time high 38% reach, up from 30% 12 months ago.

At Tindle, Ipswich-based Town 102 reports an 8% audience increase quarter on quarter and 11.9% gain in total hours. It has nearly doubled its audience over the past two years.

Neighbouring station The Beach reports its highest ever reach in sixteen years on air. 59,600 listeners tune in weekly. Figures are also up in the Channel Islands as Channel 103 celebrates its 20th birthday this weekend with best-ever reach, hours and share. 47,100 listeners tune in weekly, 58% of Jersey. Island FM is also up across the board with a weekly audience of 30,300, 56% of Guernsey.

Group Programme Director Tom Kay: “Wow! We were celebrating our best ever reach three months ago – so to see even more listeners tuning in across our East Anglian and Channel Island stations is something else. If the content is relevant, the local news is strong and the music is right, local commercial radio remains the first choice for listeners.

“Best ever figures for Channel 103 AND the station’s 20th birthday celebrations this weekend?…think we better get some freelancers on stand-by for Monday…”

Channel 103 has the highest weekly reach of any UK commercial station, followed by Island FM, Manx Radio, 102.5 Radio Pembrokeshire and West Sound.

Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2012 at 10:42 am by .

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  • seenit

    The Free Radio rebrand must now seem like a very bad idea,
    another free falling Rajar may be needed to fully demonstrate the overall
    picture here though.

    However let’s look as the figures as they are today. Now
    they have played with the TSA’s for the purpose of Rajar, so let’s show the
    decline using two fair and comparable figures. So total Orion West Midlands FM
    before and after the rebrand.

    Before (December 2011): 813k weekly reach

    After (today): 587K weekly reach

    So since December last year, they have lost 226k from their
    weekly listening quota of FM listeners within the West Midlands. So they have
    lost 27.8% of their audience in last than 12 months and not gained it anywhere
    else, such as on AM. This is despite using television and outdoor advertising
    throughout this period as well. So what has gone so badly wrong? There is clear
    evidence of cost cutting on air as well (change in evening programming), so
    they must be feeling the strain.

    However this by Orion is classed as satisfactory performance, I wonder if their
    investors are feeling the same. I certainly would not be if I had my money tied
    up in the company, at this moment I would be wondering if I am likely to ever
    see my money again, forget making a gain on my investment.

    • Anon Radio Fan

      Well put seenit, check the total hours for the stations too – the picture’s just as bad. Sorry to say, but I think the rebrand has been a disaster. The one thing brmb had was heritage, but the product was & still is poor – stick a new label/name/logo on it and the “you can’t polish a turd” adage springs to mind… With a bit of luck the investors will drop out, Bauer will buy it and manage it properly with some funding into programming/presenters and make it part of their successful “Place” strand.

    • http://www.axiam-pc.co.uk Darren Forster

      Yeah the re-brand has been really bad – it’s so annoying to get in the car round Shropshire and find that now not only is every single station pumping out the same tunes, it’s also got the same name. At least when they were different names you had a feeling it was regionally produced. Even though I’m in Shropshire BRMB was my most favourite radio brand around here, but since the re-brand to “Free Radio this” and “Free Radio that” I’ve just switched to Sunshine Radio instead. Free Radio certainly lacks the punch that BRMB had, and to re-brand such a famous radio station was such a massive mistake. Hopefully Orion media will bankrupt themselves and someone else will take over these stations and put them back to their original brandings.

  • I love these radio excuses.

    A question for Phil Riley: Why are you only half way through the brand change programme?

    You said all that was changing was the name, that has already happened. So are you talking rubbish now or back then?

    • Seenit

      Half way through completely cocking up :)

  • Radio Man

    I wonder if any of the community radio stations have pick up some of the listenership across the country. We will never know until Rajar charge a reasonable rate for these stations. This could be skewing the figures somewhat.

    • kit

      I wouldn’t be suprised if community radio stations are starting to nibble away at BBC Local radio’s share as the BBC actually becomes less and less local and also if they start to take some of Global’s Audience as their listeners become sick and tired of the same playlist over and over again.

      Yes, I wouldn’t be at all suprised if some of the better Community stations were starting to pass some of the ailing “commecial” stations within their broadcast areas – but without figures we’ll never know – and my guess is – they wouldn’t want you to know!!!

    • http://www.axiam-pc.co.uk Darren Forster

      In the Free Radio area there is very few community stations, actually since moving to Ludlow a few years ago I was very surprised to learn that there is no Ludlow Community Radio considering how independent Ludlow is.

      The closest thing we’ve got to a community radio round here is possibly Sunshine Radio. That is a full commercial station but a lot of the random stuff it plays makes it sound like a community station.

  • smiffy

    The last time BRMB was surveyed as a stand-alone service was
    Q1.2012. Then they had 354,000 Adult listeners in the BRMB TSA only. Now the enlarged Free Birmingham and Black Country (which also includes listeners in the former Beacon 97.2 Wolverhampton TSA)
    has only 331,000 Adult listeners. So the facts speak for themselves: The ‘larger’ Free Birmingham and Black
    Country now have 23,000 LESS listeners than BRMB alone had before the re-brand as Free.

  • Printing Personalised Balloons

    It takes years to create a brand. Best thing orion can do is bring the big brand names back and admit failure.

  • Radio Expert

    Gotta agree with the Free Radio thing. ALL their issues were Programming related. It had nothing to do with the brand. Like you’ve said, all the rebrand’s done is polish a turd. It’s very wrong of Phil Riley to say he’s only halfway through what was a case of “nothing changing but the name.” I remember they went to VERY great lengths to reinforce that point on-air, as well as off.

  • Seenit

    I think Riley and Lloyd have lost the plot, if they think business is as easy as change the name and suddenly everyone will want some of your product, they are majority under a mad illusion.

    If it were that easy, I’m sure Lada Cars would have rebranded back I 1990 and suddenly picked up many customers from Bentley.

    However the fact it is, Lada Cars are not renowned for quality and changing the badge would do nothing to fool potential customers!

    • http://www.axiam-pc.co.uk Darren Forster

      Funny you should mention cars – Datsun changed their name to Nissan and have gone from strength to strength. However Goldstar changed there name to LG (Lucky Goldstar) and they’re still just as bad.