LOCALS: RAJAR Q4/10 roundup

We take a look at the ups and downs in BBC Local stations around the UK, plus the smaller groups and independents.

This quarter’s big winners in terms of year-on-year reach increases are Jack FM Bristol, Radio Borders and CFM. After a poor book last time out, the audience at Connect FM in Peterborough dropped again.

[b]BBC Local Radio[/b]

The network of local stations added 722,000 listeners year on year and 466,000 quarter on quarter. Overall reach is 7.43m now. If you created a commercial radio style network with them all, it’d be second only to Heart as the biggest national brand being delivered locally!

David Holdsworth, Controller of BBC English Regions said : “This is the second quarter of growth in BBC Local Radio and is encouraging evidence that our renewed focus on high quality local news and information is resonating with audiences.”

BBC Hereford and Worcester’s 90k reach is lowest in a long while and share and total hours are also down. It’s a similar story at BBC Oxford, where reach has dropped to a low of 62k. Radio Cornwall posted its best hours and share for a few years, and Radio Cumbria is up 25k year on year, although the reach isn’t as big as during the bad weather at the start of 2010.

BBC Radio Jersey’s 5 percentage point drop in reach over the 12 months sounds a lot – but it’s only a drop from 31k to 27k because of the small TSA. Most small stations of 27k reach would kill for that to mean 36 percent! Radio Lancashire has recorded its best reach and hours for 2 and a half years, while over the pennines at Radio Leeds the reach of 282k is something they’ve not had for around 5 years – a steady increase across 2010 so up 49k year on year.

Radio Norfolk’s 216k is best reach since Q4/07 but average hours are down as a result. At Radio Nottingham reach, hours and share all up on the quarter and the year – and the size of the audience is the best its been in more than 5 years. Radio Suffolk’s 13.3 ave hours per listener per week could well be their best ever.

There were increases all round at BBC Wiltshire/Swindon, the highlight of which was adding 21k to the audience year on year. BBC Somerset has its highest ever reach and share figures after a good book. And after a bad quarter in Q3/10, BBC Tees is back up to previous levels at 126k reach (was 85k last quarter) but it’s down still year-on-year.

[b]Commercial radio groups highlights and lowlights[/b]

[b]Celador[/b]’s Jack FM in Bristol, acquired last year from Tomahawk is the UK’s fastest growing radio station – increasing its weekly listenership by 331 percent since the same period last year. Hours are up by 430 percent too. Star in Bristol – which this month becomes The Breeze – dipped a little, as did the group’s flagship regional station, The Coast.

It was another good book for [b]3FM[/b], with increases across the board. It’s now listened to by 37 percent of the Isle of Man and posted record total hours, as well as almost hitting 20 percent market share.

[b]Orion Media[/b]’s flagship BRMB had a poor quarter, with the total reach down to 324,000 – that’s a drop of 41,000 listeners year on year. Total hours are now the lowest they’ve been for many years too. Across the West Midlands though, Beacon has grown by 58k in a year and posted its best figures under Orion’s ownership.

For [b]UKRD[/b], Minster and Yorkshire Coast Radio have had great year-on-year increases. Special mention too for Wessex FM who are up five percentage points in reach year on year – from 30 percent to 35 percent, giving the station its biggest audience in four years. Star Radio North East’s Durham area has lost audience since sharing programmes with Darlington, although average hours are up to more than 10 for the first time ever as a result.

[b]Tindle[/b]’s Dream 100 in Colchester was the group’s star performer with total hours nearly doubling in a year. The group says audiences are up 15 percent year on year, and that 7 out of its 9 stations are either number one or commercial number one in their TSAs. Group Programme Director Tom Kay told us: “We’re really chuffed with this further RAJAR gain. In a changing radio market we’ve stayed true to what we’re good at – locally focused radio driven by personality presenters who really know their patch”.

[b]Absolute Radio International[/b]’s stations in Oxford – Jack FM and Glide FM – recorded their highest ever weekly reaches. Jack is up to 66k. Managing Director Ian Walker told RadioToday.co.uk: “JACKfm and our new station glide FM are now the only two radio stations to broadcast local programming from Oxfordshire 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we believe our commitment to strong local content is why people are continuing to switch.”

[b]Adventure Radio[/b]’s move to rebrand Lite FM to Connect FM in Peterborough has meant another disappointing book for the station. Reach has more than halved in a year to just 11,000 listeners (6 percent), while hours are down over 12 months from 122,000 to 44,000. It means the station has a market share of just 1.1 percent, compared with the 7.5 percent it commanded little over two years ago.

[b]This quarter’s RAJAR winners and losers[/b]

Here we take a look at all those stations whose reach or share have changed considerably.

[i]When comparing year-on-year percentage reach:[/i]

Jack FM Bristol +11
Radio Borders +9
CFM +9
Minster +8
Radio Wave +7
Dream 100 +7
Yorkshire Coast Radio +7
Channel 103 +6
Leicester Sound +6
The Bay +6
MFR +6
Kiss 101 +6
BBC Radio Cumbria +6

[b]DOWN [/b]
Connect FM (Peterborough) -6
BBC Radio Jersey -5
Star NE (Durham) -5
107.4 The Quay -5
107.2 Wire FM -5

[i]And when comparing percentage market share, year-on-year:[/i]

Radio Borders +6.9
3FM +6.2
Dream 100 +6

Real Radio Scotland -5.4

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