RAJAR: Local radio round-up for Q1/2015

The first set of RAJAR figures for the renamed Bauer Place 2 stations have seen drops in both reach and hours in all locations where the Magic station changed its name.

Bauer’s AM stations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen however all increased their audience size in the last 12 months – obviously Clyde 2, Forth 2 and Northsound 2 are already established names in those TSAs.

Worst performing of the new Place 2 stations in the North of England was Key 2 (formerly Magic 1152) in Manchester, which has lost 70 percent of its total listening hours and 39 percent of its reach compared with this time last year. Its FM partner Key 103 has lost a third of its reach (now down to 444,000 from 660,000 in Q1/14) and 38% of its total hours.

Across Manchester, Capital 102‘s reach is down 18.5% from 627k to 511k, Gold on 1458AM is down nearly 40% year on year from 90k to 56k and Communicorp’s Real XS loses more a third of its audience to post a 118k reach (down from 186k last year). The winners in the Manchester market are Global’s XFM Manchester (up 17% to a reach of 194k), BBC Radio Manchester (up 14% to a reach of 229k), Heart North West (up 9% to a reach of 550k across the whole region) and Communicorp’s Smooth Radio North West, which posts another record reach of 1,172,000 weekly listeners – up 13% or 137,000 compared with 12 months ago.

In Scotland, star performers this book are Smooth Radio Scotland, which adds 129,000 listeners in the last 12 months to give it a reach of 401k; Original 106 in Aberdeen, up 26% on reach to hit 83,000 listeners. Not doing so well are XFM Scotland in Paisley which has lost almost half its audience (down from 69,000 to 35,000 reach year on year) and Tay 2, which sees the audience size drop nearly a quarter to 63,000.

BBC Radio Scotland remains fairly constant on 931,000 listeners per week. Clyde 1 is still Scotland’s biggest commercial radio station with a reach of 556k, followed by Capital on 514k, Heart on 430k then Smooth on 401k and Forth 1 in fifth place on 354k.

Digital station Radio Yorkshire posted its first ever set of RAJAR results, debuting with 71,000 listeners per week. “We are delighted with our opening set of figures,” said Director of Broadcasting Sam Brydges.“Looking around the rest of Yorkshire, I think that result will turn a few heads.”

Click here to see our charts of the Best 15 and Worst 15 year-on-year performers on reach and total hours.


The group’s total listening is up by 6%, both quarter on quarter and year on year, but Free Radio Birmingham & Black Country is down from 388,000 listeners 12 months ago to 324,000 today. Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire however has its best reach in three years with 118,000 weekly listeners and up 61% in total hours year on year.

Free Radio Shropshire has a record reach of 89,000 listeners, up from 82,000 last quarter and 85,000 last year.

Gem 106 has recorded its lowest reach in a few years, now down at 430,000 listeners.

Orion Media Chief Executive, Adrian Serle, said: “Good news. A solid set of figures, which reflects the hard work and sustained marketing investment across the patch. We have huge ambition to deliver considerably more growth on top of this, and we can’t wait for the next set of results in three months”.


Collectively, the 13 local stations in England and Wales see a 7% increase in reach and 2% increase in total hours year on year, but it’s a mixed picture at individual station level.

Juice FM in Liverpool, rumoured to be about to be sold to Global, posted its highest audience figures ever, up 12% over the year to 257,000. Hours are up 30% too at Juice to 2.2m. (If the deal’s not yet done to sell it, we’re guessing the price just went up!)

There were good increases in reach year on year too for Signal 107 (weekly audience has doubled to 60,000) and Warrington’s Wire FM, which is up 10% to a reach of 54,000 and also recorded an increase in total hours of 87% compared with Q1/14. Wire’s strong performance allows UTV to claim in its press release that the three stations based at Orrell Lodge (Wish, Wire & Tower) “posted a combined increase of 19% in total hours”. In reality, Tower’s hours are down 15% and Wish’s up by 1%.

In Bradford, Pulse 1 has lost more than 25% of its weekly audience since Q1/14 (now at 98k) and hours are down by nearly a third. Sister station Pulse 2‘s audience is up 32% to 37k but hours are down a third too.

Radio Wave in Blackpool sees its reach drop 16% year on year to 78,000, with total hours down 41%.

The biggest station in the UTV local radio group is still Signal 1 in Stoke with a 293,000 weekly reach (down 3% year on year). Signal 1’s average hours of 10.6 per listener per week are beaten in the group only by Peak 107‘s 10.9, though Peak’s reach dropped 13% to 87,000 compared with a year ago.

In Wales, 96.4 The Wave and Swansea Sound posted a combined growth in total hours 10% year on year. The AM station’s hours are up 20% and the FM’s up 7% too.

Iain Fowler, Director of Local Radio for UTV Media (GB), said: “These numbers are very pleasing, as they show what a lucrative and unique proposition these local stations are for both listeners and advertisers alike. The numbers really reflect the hard work that all the programming teams have put in, and further solidified their importance in their local communities.”


UKRD has got the first and joint second places amongst stations in terms of reach in England along with a number of record performances from around their portfolio.

Yorkshire Coast Radio has a 48% reach whilst Wessex FM has recorded a reach of 45%, these two stations sit at the pinnacle of performance across England. The group also saw many of its stations deliver strong quarter on quarter improvements with Spire FM increasing reach from 32% to 38%, Mix 96 up from 36% to 38% (a record for the station) and KLFM moving from 32% to 34%.

Chief Executive Officer, William Rogers comments: “Coupled with the best ever commercial performance delivered by UKRD which we are seeing this year, these RAJAR numbers show yet again that genuinely local radio, well delivered and backed up by community engaged teams can and does deliver great results across the board.”


Top of the class at Anglian this quarter is Ipswich’s Town 102, which sees a year on year reach increase of 9% to 62,000. Total hours at Town 102 are up 46% to over half a million. There’s also a reach increase over the 12 months for The Beach, but Dream 100, North Norfolk Radio and Norwich 99.9fm all lost audience. North Norfolk and Norwich’s total hours are each up 25%. The five stations combined give Anglian Radio Group a weekly reach of 220,000 (up 1% from a year ago) and total hours of just over 2 million (up 10% year on year.


Oxfordshire’s 106 JACKfm heralds in its press release a ratings jump of 5,000 listeners per week, though year on year the station’s reach is down 3% to 69,000. Total hours are up nearly a third in 12 months to 377,000, averaging 5.5 per listener per week. The station says weekday breakfast listening is up 36% to 30,000.

JACK 2 posts a reach of 33,000 (up by more than half from a year ago), while total hours are up 170% to 168,000. It means the two stations combined give OXIS a reach of 91,000 in Oxfordshire, and total hours over half a million.

Programme Director Tim Parker said “Today is a great day for the JACK brand as we see loyalty build across Oxfordshire. Both JACKfm and JACK2 offer very different music based entertainment. It’s clear to see that the people of Oxfordshire are engaging with both JACKfm ‘Playing What WE Want’ and its sister station JACK 2 ‘Playing What YOU Want’ where listeners pick the music 24 hours a day. I’m very proud of the team that operate from the graffiti covered, dumpy building in Oxford as we continue to hold the crown of the most awarded local commercial station in UK radio. We’ve got great plans for the JACK brand and look forward to even bigger and better things in the months ahead.”


BBC Local and Regional radio reached 8.82 million listeners per week in Q1/15 (16% of the population), down from 8.98m last quarter and 9.26m a year ago. A 5% drop in listener numbers in a year also leaves the BBC’s portfolio of Local Radio stations down 10% year on year for total listening hours which now stand at 77 million. Local Radio in England has a reach of 6.6m and 58 million total hours.

Star performer this quarter is BBC Radio Bristol, which sees a 48% increase in reach year on year, to 149,000. Its hours are up 66% to just under 1.5m. Total hours at BBC Radio Derby and BBC Radio Sheffield are up by more than a third in 12 months.

Not doing so well on reach are Radio Berkshire (down 31% to 98,000), Radio Cambridgeshire (down 27% to 104,000), Radio Kent (down 22% to 198,000) and Radio Shropshire (down 22% to 91,000). Total hours were down by around a third compared with this time last year for each of Radio Cambridgeshire, Radio Kent, Radio Humberside, Radio Leicester, BBC Tees, Three Counties Radio and Radio York.


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