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.