RAJAR: The ups and downs of local radio

Whilst Moyles and Evans dominate the national RAJAR headlines, we take time out once again to see how our local stations perform each quarter.

In Q1, we see good results for Tindle stations, Dee 106.3 and Jack South Coast, but something strange is going on in Cumbria.

Both commercial station CFM and BBC Radio Cumbria have taken a big fall in reach and share in the last 12 months, whilst Lakeland Radio stays fairly static.

Lancaster-based The Bay is up 7,000 reach year-on-year to 111k (a record 39%), while the station’s 17.8% market share looks like the best Q1 performance for many years and is up from 14.4% this time last year.

New kids on the block Free Radio, as one brand, has 800,000 people tuning in very week in the West Midlands. Chief Executive Phil Riley said “It’s still very early days for Free Radio, but these numbers are really encouraging. Our TV campaign has just launched and we anticipate its impact will be reflected in our audience figures over the coming year”.

Tindle Radio’s portfolio of stations have their biggest ever audience. Total hours of 3,718,000 are 6% up year on year. Share climbs to 12.0%. Town 102 is celebrating it’s eighth consecutive audience increase and Norwich 99.9 is celebrating best ever reach, hours and share. In the Channel Islands, Island FM maintains a 49% reach with listening hours up this quarter and 58% of Jersey tunes in to Channel 103 each week. Share is 31.8%. Group Programme Director Tom Kay said: “We’re over the moon with three years of strong, consistent growth for Tindle Radio and now our biggest ever audience. A fantastic result for our talented, dedicated and passionate teams.”

At Celador Radio, The nine-station Breeze network showed a year on year increase in the south, and a slight decrease in Bristol. Jack fm in Bristol celebrates its largest audience ever with 118,000 weekly listeners and Jack South Coast (previously The Coast/Original) is enjoying an upward trend doubling total hours in 12 months and now up to 10% weekly reach. (Remember it started life with 2% for the first five surveys).

The multi award winning JACK fm Oxfordshire has dropped in reach this time round, but average hours are on the up. I’m sure it won’t stop them winning awards though!

At Quidem, it’s going the wrong way for Touch FM Coventry, with weekly reach down from 11% in Q1 2011, to 6% now. The station has 17,000 listeners compared with 31,000 twelve months ago. However, Touch FM Stratford has its best reach at 19% and Rugby FM is up year on year and quarter on quarter. Oak FM seems to be on a year-on-year downward trend with reach, now at 8%.

Fire Radio’s local Bournemouth & Poole FM service records highest reach since 2004 at 17%. 29% up year on year in Reach and 28% up in hours. The station has had sustained growth since becoming part of the Triple Group in Q3 2009.

CEO Of Fires owners Triple Broadcast told us “Its excellent news for the Fire team, who have delivered fantastic solid growth. We bought the station with 28,000 listeners, we now have 53,000 to the brand in the south coast.

“It’s a very competitive market with Wave, Heart, Digital stations and Jack all chasing the mainstream. Fires continues to increase despite fragmentation and new competition – Jack FM gained elsewhere in the south, but in our market they are down 20% year on year.”

Steve Penk’s Oldham station The Revolution is down to 1.4% share – down from 3.9% last year, The Pulse in Bradford is down to its lowest share at 3.4% (from 7.6% twelve months ago) and now has half the total hours year-on-year and kmfm West take a drop in reach from 14% to 10% (20,000 listeners)

Digital-only Yorkshire Radio a 28% increase in adult listeners and 47% increase in time spent listening year on year and KCFM in East Yorkshire has grown hours quarter on quarter by 41% and weekly reach by 18%.

In Wales, Radio Pembrokeshire is maintaining its weekly reach at around the 50% mark. It was last at that mark in Q3 2008 and I’m sure they are hoping to get back to the 62% weekly reach they enjoyed in 2006.

Dee 106.3 has an impressive 98% increase in total hours year-on-year, something Chris Hurst Chief Executive is pleased about: “Its the local content not only in news and sport but also out and about in the area that sets us apart from the competition. These results are a testament to the commitment and hard work put in by our team”.

At UKRD, Yorkshire Coast Radio’s share of listening is up to a new high, from 13.9% to 18.2%. Chris Sigsworth, Managing Director told us: “All the team are delighted with these figures, which are confirmation that our mix of local news and information, together with great songs, is a huge hit with people in the area”. However, Minster FM is down 17,000 listeners year-on-year taking weekly reach from 28% in Q1 2011 to 22% in Q1 2012.

96.4 The Eagle has seen an increase of 22% in hours since the last reported quarter.

See our easy to view comparative graphs at radiotoday.co.uk/rajar

How did you get on? Email me roy.martin@tmssvr.co.uk and I’ll give you a mention right here.

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 at 12:48 pm by RadioToday UK

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