RAJAR Q4 2016: London and national headlines

It’s a bad quarter for commercial radio, with Wireless Group’s new stations Virgin Radio and talkRADIO losing listeners nationally, and Capital, Heart, Gold and Absolute Radio dropping Reach in London.

At the BBC, Radio 1 is down from 9.8m to 9.5m this quarter, and down 768,000 listeners since 12 months ago, Radio 2 remains the biggest station in the UK with 15m, despite a drop of 414,000 listeners year-on-year, whilst Radio 3, 4 and 5 live have increased their Reach.

1Xtra is down below a million whilst 6 Music is pretty static. BBC Radio London’s Reach meanwhile is down 15% since last quarter to 359,000 listeners – a drop of 32% year on year.

Capital and Heart have experienced major drops in London listeners this quarter, as Kiss gains to become the station with the biggest commercial reach in London.

Capital drops from 2m listeners to 1.7m, whilst Heart goes loses 321,000 listeners going from 1.683m to 1.362m.

Magic has also lost Reach, going from 1.804m to 1.723m but remains in third place amongst commercial stations behind Capital.

Radio X is up this quarter, but down nationally in London, but the opposite is true on a national scale. Chris Moyles is up a small amount nationally from 703,000 to 717,000 Reach.

It means the Top 5 commercial stations in London looks like this:

5. LBC (1m listeners)
4. Heart (1.362m)
3. Magic (1.723m)
2. Capital (1.730m)
1. Kiss (1.860m)

The headlines:

  • Virgin Radio’s second book gives it 324,000 listeners, down from its debut 345,000
  • talkRADIO is now down to 252,000 listeners per week, from its first quarter of 304,000
  • talkSPORT2 is up from 250,000 to 294,000 on its second set of published figures
  • Magic Chilled lost 5,000 listeners (now at 235,000) whilst Mellow Magic up from 424,000 to 446,000
  • Nick Grimshaw is down half a million listeners year on year to 5.367m
  • Chris Evans remains around the 9m listeners mark, up on the quarter but down year on year
  • Planet Rock has dropped below a million listeners – now at 958,000 Reach
  • Capital Brand is down nationally but remains the biggest commercial radio brand with 8.5m listeners
  • Nick Ferrari has the biggest London share of breakfast listening with 5.5%
  • This quarter is a record reach for The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show with growth to 2m listeners across the network
  • Record increases for Absolute Radio 90s with 727,000 listeners and Classic Rock 703,000
  • Record reach and biggest national commercial breakfast show for KISS Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie with 2.2m listeners
  • Kiss now has the number 1 commercial breakfast show in London with 983,000 listeners – overtaking Capital
  • BBC Radio 4 reached its second highest reach with 11.33 million listeners
  • Radio 4’s Today programme has recorded its highest ever audience figures with 7.45m weekly listeners – up from 7.1m last quarter
  • BBC Asian Network drew 632,000 listeners, compared to 662,000 listeners last quarter and 563,000 last year.
  • Fun Kids, now on D2, has almost doubled its London audience to 46,000 (adults 15+ at least)
  • Thames Radio has its first book and is now registering 15,000 weekly listeners
  • Chris Country, operating in London on DAB, has 23,000 weekly reach, down from 35,000



Ashley Tabor, founder & executive president of Global, said: “Global’s brands continue to lead the field, by some considerable distance, collectively reaching 24.4 million listeners across the UK every week.”

Richard Park, group executive director & director of broadcasting at Global, said: “Heart, Capital, Smooth and Classic FM are the nation’s four favourite commercial radio brands winning on all fronts.”

Scott Taunton, Wireless Group’s CEO, said: “This has been a busy period across the board and we’re extremely pleased to see the reach of our national stations growing by over 17% to 3.6 million, as well as strong performances at our local stations. Our sports programming continues to be the backbone of our offering and despite having had the European Football Championship in the previous quarter, talkSPORT recorded higher listening hours than in the third quarter. I’m equally thrilled to see talkSPORT 2 hit its highest ever audience”.

Ben Cooper (Controller Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network) said: “Radio 1’s Listen, Watch, Share strategy means that RAJAR are only part of the story, and alongside the 10.5 million listeners, our YouTube videos have received over 1.4 billion views and we have 8.7 million followers across social media. I’m delighted that young people are listening for longer to our distinctive content and that alongside the 12 million Playground Insult views in this quarter, our young audiences donated over 1 million hours of volunteering to UK charities.”

Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Radio and Music said: “With more competition for people’s time, it is heartening to see the increased relevance of live radio listening in their daily routines, and that the time they spend with us is growing again.

“In an era of fake news, echo chambers and significant shifts in global politics, the role of Radio 4’s Today as the trusted guide to the world around us is more important than ever. As Today celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Radio 4 listeners continue to wake up to world class journalism which scrutinises the headlines, holds those in power to account and enlightens them with stories that shape our society.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “These are fantastic results in both our national and local markets; special recognition must go to Rickie, Melvin, Charlie and Christian O’Connell and their respective breakfast teams. Maintaining the #1 and #2 national commercial breakfast shows reflects our powerful music and personality mix which entertains millions of listeners week in, week out. We look forward to building on the record audiences achieved by Absolute Radio when we welcome Dave Berry later this year.”

We’re adding more quotes here as they arrive. Send you RAJAR news to news@radiotoday.co.uk

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