Whilst the national stations and networked brands do battle between themselves, join us as we take a look at how local stations are doing in the latest RAJAR figures for Quarter 3, 2013.
All eyes are still on TFM, which has now completed its first full RAJAR period since combining fully with Metro Radio, and the figures are… exactly the same. TFM still has the 190,000 listeners it had before it was merged. Hours and share are down slightly but it is still attracting the same amount of listeners.
Metro Radio meanwhile recorded its best performance for seven years, reaching 444,000 listeners in the quarter.
Also at Bauer, Hallam FM has had its best performance for a decade, now with 459,000 listeners compared with 375,000 last year and 431,000 last quarter.
In Manchester, the two stations still using the strapline “Manchester’s Number One Hit Music Station”, a clear winner is emerging as Key 103 dips to its lowest ever figures of 395,000 listeners and 5.1 average hours compared with Capital‘s 545,000 listeners and 6.3 average hours.
JACK fm’s new sister station JACK 2 is showing early signs of improvement from Glide, up from 18,000 listeners a year ago to 31,000. This is the biggest figure ever achieved on the 107.9fm frequency in its 13 year licence. And JACK fm did OK too, jumping from 55,000 listeners a week to 81,000 in 12 months.
New Content Director Joe Thomas commented: “These fantastic results for 106 JACKfm and the new JACK 2 show Oxfordshire loves the radio we make and expanding on to DAB has proved a real hit. Listeners are enjoying both stems of the JACK brand and we’ve got some really exciting things up our sleeves to make even more ground-breaking radio. Plus, 99,000 listeners along with hours and reach growing significantly year on year is just the excuse we needed to break into the boss’ bar tab.”
JACK fm Swindon is also doing well, with weekly reach up 50% year on year. The station, previously known as More 107.7, has also gone from 3% to 12% weekly reach.
Troubled Sunrise Radio in London has also had a good quarter, gaining an extra 131,000 listeners nationally taking it to over half a million listeners for the first time since 2008.
The Revolution in Oldham has lost half of its hours this quarter. Weekly Reach stays steady but average hours drop from 10.4 to 5.1 this quarter from 7.0 a year ago.
The team at UKRD’s Yorkshire Coast Radio have reason to celebrate with their biggest ever audience figures. The station, which turns 20 next month, now has 44% weekly reach, up from 35% this time last year. Chris Sigsworth, Managing Director told RadioToday: “We have had a fantastic year, and the latest audience figures are an early birthday present for which we are very proud of.”
Rother FM, part of the Lincs FM Group, got its highest ever weekly reach, at 22% this quarter, up from 17% 12 months ago. And Island FM has peaked at 61% weekly reach – up from 56% a year ago.
Also celebrating an all-time high is Dee 106.3 in Chester, up from 17% reach to 23% reach this year. Sister station Silk 106.9 also got its highest ever hours under current ownership. Chief Executive Chris Hurst: “I couldn’t be happier. We operate truly local radio stations broadcast from the area for the area with no national networked programmes. I’m sure it’s this dedicated programming that has brought these all-time high audience figures. They are a credit to the hard work of our team”.
In Scotland, Smooth Radio Glasgow is down 12% weekly reach and 15% average hours whilst Kingdom FM has also taken a hit with 14,000 less listeners than a year ago, although the audience stays the same quarter on quarter.
Former heritage stations in the West Midlands, now known as Free Radio, are slowly recovering from their re-brands. Birmingham, Hereford & Worcester and Shropshire and up, whilst Coventry stays the same. In the East Midlands however, Gem 106 has posted its best ever reach, share and hours. Chief Executive, Phil Riley: “Gem 106 continues to go from strength to strength, with consistently great radio led by our Sony Award-winning Sam & Amy Breakfast show. For Free Radio FM, this is our first set of results we can compare year on year and with reach up 12% and total listening up by 10%, that’s a very encouraging result”.
It’s been a good year for fellow North East UKRD station Sun FM, going back up from 57,000 listeners to 73,000 in a year, although the station had 84,000 listeners two years ago.
New station director Julian Carter told RadioToday: “Sun FM has 62% more total listening than Metro, and 74% more than Capital or Smooth, as measured within our transmission area, and offers incredible value for money to companies wanting to cut through in Sunderland. We are also now 5 times bigger in total listening terms than another well-known regional commercial station.”
At UTV Media, Radio Wave Blackpool is up in all areas, and now has a 33% weekly reach from 28% last year. Sister stations Wish FM in Wigan and St Helens, Wire FM in Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn and Tower FM in Bolton and Bury have increased listeners by 6.9% year on year, and hours have gone up by 5.4% year on year. Wish FM has done particularly well, with the station’s number of listeners up by 22% year on year. Hours are also up 73% year on year and 23% quarter on quarter.
Signal 107, now broadcasting across Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Kidderminster, has achieved a 37.9% year on year rise in the number of listeners and has grown hours by 19.1%.
Iain Fowler, Director of Local Radio for UTV Media (GB), said: “These figures are very pleasing, as they clearly demonstrate the integral part that all UTV local stations play in their communities and we are proud that they continue to be a great prospect for listeners and advertisers alike.”
At Celador Radio, JACK fm Swindon is on a high, as mentioned earlier, and the group, which includes eighteen stations under The Breeze and Jack fm brands, saw increases in most markets.
Jack fm in the South saw reach increase to 16%, which is a 30% year on year improvement, with 273,000 listeners now tuning in each week. The Breeze in the South has almost doubled both its audience and total hours in the past year. The station now reaches 81,000 listeners each week, and has its highest ever total hours at 668,000 weekly. The Breeze in Bristol, Bath and Frome/West Wiltshire published its best ever figures.
Heart Sussex has dropped in both reach and hours, taking it down from 28% reach and 9.9 average hours a year ago to 24% reach and 7.7 average hours today.
At BBC local radio, overall reach in England came in at 7.1m, stable on last quarter’s 7.2m and up compared to last year’s 6.7m. Market share, at 7.9%, has increased this quarter compared to 7.8% last quarter, and is up on last year’s 7.4%. The average hours listened per listener a week came in at 9.24 compared to 9.00 last quarter and 9.02 last year.
David Holdsworth, Controller, English Regions, said: “The latest figures for BBC Local Radio in England for this quarter remain steady, with the overall reach up on this time last year. This is encouraging news in what is a very competitive market. We’ll continue to provide quality local public service broadcasting to our audience to develop listener growth in the long term.”
Noticeable differences for BBC locals include BBC Radio Berkshire losing reach and hours both year on year and quarter on quarter. Total hours are down 32.5% this quarter. BBC Radio Gloucesterhire has also taken a hit with one of its lowest ever weekly reach figures at 18% compared with 23% 12 months ago. Total hours are also down 31.1% year on year.
BBC Radio Lancashire is up 10% in weekly reach year on year, Radio Leeds up 17%, Radio Norfolk 15%, Radio Suffolk 14%, BBC Somerset 17% and BBC Radio Wiltshire/Swindon up 20%.
Radio Newcastle is also up 15% on weekly reach, and has seen a 58% increase in audience share this quarter, taking it back to where it was roughly a year ago.
Finally, BBC Radio Ulster is down 22% in audience share year on year along with BBC Radio York which has lost almost 30% of its audience in a year.