RAJAR Q2 2017: London and national headlines

Heart 80s has posted an impressive debut set of listening figures, with Q2/2017 RAJAR data showing the digital station reaches 852,000 listeners each week.

Other headlines this quarter:

– Radio 4 has posted an all-time record reach, with its Today Programme also seeing a decent increase in audience

– Capital London’s reach is at a 13-year high as it remains the biggest commercial station in the city

– LBC has hit a reach of 2 million for the first time across the UK, with good increases across many of its programmes

– Radio X is on the up too – with increases in audience size for the station and for Chris Moyles at breakfast

– talkSPORT’s decline continues, with its lowest reach in 7 years – though talkSPORT 2 and talkRADIO are doing well

– Virgin Radio lost a few listeners – down from 373,000 to 364,000 weekly reach

– And – hold the front page – Nick Grimshaw’s audience has gone UP this quarter!

In this article we take a look at the stations and breakfast shows in the London market, as well as the figures for UK-wide radio stations.


Capital London remains the biggest station in London on reach, growing its audience 2.1% year on year to 2.313m – that’s the London station’s highest reach since 2004!

Year on year in the capital there are good increases for LBC (up 9.2% to 1.411m), and Smooth Radio London (up 12.7% to 881k). Radio X is up 25% quarter on quarter, and 7.7% year on year to a London reach of 476,000 – the highest since Radio X’s first RAJARs in Q4/2015.

The top 5 commercial stations in London based on reach in Q2/2017 are as follows:

1. Capital 2.313m
2. Kiss 2.048m
3. Heart 1.7m
4. Magic 1.547m
5. LBC 1.411m

Top 5 London commercial stations on share in Q2/2017 are:

1. LBC 7.6%
2. Capital 5.1%
3. Heart 4.3%
4. Kiss 4.1%
5. Magic 3.2%

Not so great in the London market for Absolute Radio which falls 16.7% year on year to 637,000 in the capital. Gold London is down 27% from a year ago to 243k reach; while Premier Christian Radio has lost 42.7% of its listeners in the last 12 months – falling from 131,000 to just 75,000 in Q2/17.

Radio 4 remains London’s biggest station, by the way, with a reach in the capital of 2.871m. Radio 2 has 2.214m London listeners and Radio 1 has 1.516m. Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 live all lost audience year on year in the London TSA.

London DAB stations Chris Country and Thames Radio are up – Chris Country has gone from 23,000 to 33,000 quarter on quarter. Thames Radio – which recently dropped all presenters from its schedule and went non-stop music – has quadrupled its audience reach compared with Q1/17, up from 4,000 to 16,000.


Capital London still has the biggest commercial breakfast show in London, with 1.086m (down from the record 1.244m that Dave Berry bowed out with last quarter)

Rickie, Melvin and Charlie on Kiss are a close second on 914,000 listeners a week, followed by LBC’s Nick Ferrari on 906,000 – a massive rise from last quarter’s figure of 678k.

Jamie and Emma on Heart London have 655,000 tuning in each week, while Magic Breakfast – soon to be taken over by Ronan Keating and Harriet Scott – reaches 618,000.

Russ Williams on Smooth Radio London breakfast is up – from 305,000 a year ago to 381,000; while his former colleague Christian O’Connell is losing audience in the capital – he’s down from 428,000 12 months ago to a breakfast reach of 221,000 in Q2/17.

Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London posted a good increase this quarter – up to 307,000 from Q1/2017’s 161,000. It’s also a slight year on year rise from the 293k who listened to the station’s breakfast show in Spring 2016.


Heart 80s debuts with 852,000 listeners per week – around double the reach of Heart Extra which is next along the dial on digital radio sets.

Absolute 80s doesn’t appear to have taken a hit from Heart 80s’ launch though – it’s up 11.3% quarter on quarter to 1.512m listeners. Strong growth from another Bauer station – Kisstory – means Absolute 80s remains the second biggest commercial digital only station. Kisstory added 183,000 listeners this quarter to give a Q2/17 reach of 1.734m.

The Heart brand now reaches 9.557m listeners a week, while the Capital brand gets to 8.620m. Classic FM is third with 5.781m, then Smooth on 5.556m, followed by Bauer’s Kiss (5.393m) and Magic (3.63m) brands.

It’s another good book for LBC, which is up 18% year on year to 2.038m – the first time the station has posted a reach of more than 2 million weekly listeners. Global says James O’Brien has hit a record audience for his show of 905,000 a week, while Nigel Farage’s hour-long show on weeknights is reaching a weekly audience of 436,000.

Good news too for Radio X, up 17% across the UK year on year, giving the station its best ever reach of 1.391m.

Not great for Bauer digital services Heat (down 32.2% year on year), The Hits (down 20.9%) and Kerrang (down 28.3%) – but better results for Mellow Magic (up 10% this quarter to 518k) and Planet Rock (up 9% year on year to 1.075m).

Wireless Group’s talkRADIO records its second best reach of out 5 RAJAR books, of 275,000 (up 22.8% from a year ago), and talkSPORT 2 is up to its highest at 336,000. But the main talkSPORT station continues to lose listeners – its new reach of 2.622m is the lowest it’s been in 7 years. talkSPORT has lost a fifth of its audience in the last 12 months.

Union Jack’s second set of RAJAR figures since it joined the SDL national digital multiplex give it a reach of 80,000 (up from 71,000 last quarter). After a drop last quarter, Jazz FM – on the same multiplex – has tipped back over the half-million mark with 556,000 listeners a week.


At the BBC, the only national service to see significant year-on-year growth is Radio 4 Extra, up 7.3% to a reach of 2.093m (overtaking Radio 3). Radio 4 posts its best reach ever (since 1999), of 11.551m, up from 11.113m last quarter and 11.507m a year ago.

Radio 1’s reach is up nearly half a million this quarter compared with Q1/17, to 9.586m, although the yearly rise is more modest.

Radio 2 drops below the 15 million mark for the first time since quarter 3 of 2013 and its latest reach figure of 14.884m is the lowest in almost 5 years.

5 live and Sports Extra’s combined reach in Q2/17 is 5.631m, up from 5.5m last quarter – but a year on year drop of 8.9% (was 6.181m in Q2/16)

Special mention too for the BBC World Service in the UK, which now reaches 1.593m listeners each week – up nearly 20% compared with last quarter (an extra 250,000 listeners).

Chris Evans’ audience has dropped to 9.007m this quarter (from 9.472m a year ago), while Radio 4’s Today Programme hit a record high of 7.655m (up from 7.348m a year ago).

The third biggest breakfast show in the UK is Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1, who has added listeners this quarter to reach 5.499m – up from 5.141m last quarter and 5.433m this time last year. Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden on 5 live are up quarter on quarter, but down year on year – posting a reach in Q2/17 of 2.274m.

Commercially, Kiss breakfast has 2.037m listeners a weeek; followed by Tim on Classic FM (a good increase to 1.915m), OC on Absolute Radio 1.845m, Alan Brazil on talkSPORT 1.201m, Magic 1.088m and Chris Moyles on 750,000 (up from 694k this time last year).

Though it’s not in the official RAJAR list of national breakfast shows, Global tells us Nick Ferrari has an audience of 1.2m listeners a week on LBC across the UK.


Ashley Tabor, founder & executive president of Global, said: “Exactly 10 years after we founded Global, we have more than 25 million listeners which means almost half the population tune in to one of our radio stations every week. When we started Global we had 6.3 million listeners. Capital continues to grow with 8.6 million listeners, and in London it firmly cements its position as the no. 1 commercial music station with 2.3 million listeners. Just over three months after we launched our new station Heart 80s, it’s already reaching 850,000 people, which demonstrates the popularity of the Heart brand and the music we play. I’m incredibly proud of everyone at Global who has worked so hard to achieve another incredible set of results. Happy Birthday Global!”

Richard Park, group executive director & director of broadcasting at Global, added: “We’ve had another superb set of scores right across the group. We have the top four commercial radio brands nationally and we’ve seen a record high for the Smooth network. As we celebrate 25 years of Classic FM, it’s fantastic to see the UK’s first national commercial station grow its reach to 5.8 million listeners. We have also achieved new records for LBC and Radio X which now reach 2 million and 1.4 million people every week respectively.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Media, said: “Launching and growing exciting and innovative digital radio services that listeners love has kept Bauer ahead of the field again with 60% of our listening now being consumed digitally.”

Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Radio & Music, said: “These figures are fantastic news for radio, illustrating its enduring appeal in a crowded digital marketplace. Radio 4 remains as vital as ever as it approaches its 50th anniversary. Its success highlights the importance of first-class, trusted news in turbulent times, but also the strength the station has across its schedule with a unique mix of programmes. Hats off to all at Radio 1. Their half a million gain is a real boost and owes much to the hard work all the teams have put in to making the listening experience better than ever.”

Ben Cooper, Controller of BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra & Asian Network, said: “These big increases are great for Radio 1, great for Grimmy, and great that they complement the record highs for Radio 1 of 4.7 million subscribers on YouTube, and 9.2 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”

Posted on Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 at 12:02 am by RadioToday UK

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