RAJAR Q1 2018: Regional and local radio round-up

Here’s our regular look at which local stations around the UK are up, which are down, and other interesting talking points.

BBC Local Radio in England had a mixed quarter, with 18 losing reach and 20 adding listeners (the other – Radio Oxford – stayed the same!). Overall reach for BBC Local in England is down 106,000 quarter on quarter though, not helped by the 120k drop at BBC Radio London which has gone from 574,000 to 454,000.

BBC Radio Manchester is up year on year and quarter on quarter. Kate Squire, managing editor told RadioToday: “It’s great to see the hard work of everybody at Radio Manchester paying off with an increase in our listening figures. It’s especially lovely to see the success of our mid-morning show with local legend Mike Sweeney who has recorded his highest audience numbers since the end of 2016.

At Global, the Heart Brand is now bigger than BBC Radio 1, helped by most of the regional stations recording an increase in reach this quarter.

Bauer meanwhile saw over half of its regional/local City stations lose listeners, including Key 103 which lost 2,000 ahead of its rebrand to Hits Radio in June.

Here are some more observations so far:

Yorkshire Coast Radio has recorded its biggest ever audience. 54,200 adults its biggest weekly reach ever, and with a 48% weekly reach, its the highest of all stations in England. “To achieve our biggest audience ever is a testament to the hard work the team put in every day,” said Managing Director Chris Sigsworth.

Sister UKRD station 2BR has increased its audience to its highest ever 82,000 weekly reach from 58,000 three months ago.

Sun FM, recently bought by Nation Broadcasting, has lost 3,000 listeners but at 59,000, it is the lowest weekly reach in six years.

Eagle Radio has suffered a dip – down to its lowest figure of 108,000 weekly listeners compared with 134,000 a year ago.

Lakeland Radio (Smooth Lake District) stayed fairly static during the quarter it changed names. From 16,000 listeners last year to 15,000 today. Meanwhile, The Bay (Heart North Lancashire and Cumbria) added 13,000 listeners in quarter 1 of 2018.

Central FM is on a downward trend at the moment – from 50,000 listeners 12 months ago to 38,000 today. Share is also down, at one of its lowest of 5.7%.

Tower FM in Bolton and Bury has recorded its lowest reach – 22,000 listeners in Q1, 2018 compared with 38,000 in Q1, 2017.

The Breeze South Devon had added 10,000 listeners in the last 12 months. It was previously known as Palm FM before Celador rebranded the station. It now has 38,000 weekly reach.

Q Radio Belfast is down to 113,000 weekly reach – also its lowest since 2012. Last year it recorded 135,000 listeners.

Touch FM Coventry has more than twice the audience it had 12 months ago – going from 10,000 listeners in Q1, 2017 to 23,000 this time round.

Rathergood Radio is another station with its lowest ever reach, audience share and hours this quarter. It has lost 27% of its audience in the last 12 months since changing from Star Radio North East.

Dragon Radio has recorded its highest ever reach at 29,000. The service used to be known as Nation Gold and is on DAB in Wales.

Around the Capital Network, here’s how the weekly reach has changed in the last three months (remembering these stations, apart from London report half yearly). 6 out of the 10 stations have lost listeners this quarter. Capital Liverpool welcomes 30,000 new listeners – as does Capital London. In key markets including Manchester, the North East and Scotland though the Capital brand’s reach is now smaller than three months ago.

Capital Birmingham 425,000 -> 430,000
Capital East Midlands 555,000 -> 563,000
Capital Liverpool 181,000 -> 211,000
Capital London 2,108,000 -> 2,138,000
Capital Manchester 521,000 -> 511,000
Capital North East 470,000 -> 445,000
Capital NW & North Wales 158,000 -> 131,000
Capital Scotland 495,000 -> 488,000
Capital South Coast 256,000 -> 204,000
Capital Yorkshire 1,000,000 -> 1,050,000

And at Heart, 13 of the 18 main services have added reach this quarter:

Heart Cambridgeshire 206,000 -> 212,000
Heart East Anglia 231,000 -> 239,000
Heart Essex 343,000 -> 350,000
Heart Four Counties 487,000 -> 432,000
Heart Kent 329,000 -> 341,000
Heart London 1,559,000 -> 1,493,000
Heart North East 299,000 -> 320,000
Heart North Wales 135,000 -> 142,000
Heart North West 612,000 -> 626,000
Heart Scotland 379,000 -> 420,000
Heart Solent 305,000 -> 273,000
Heart South Wales 416,000 -> 399,000
Heart South West 391,000 -> 396,000
Heart Sussex 290,000 -> 298,000
Heart Thames Valley 290,000 -> 314,000
Heart West Country 582,000 -> 540,000
Heart West Midlands 608,000 -> 617,000
Heart Yorkshire 427,000 -> 451,000

And for Bauer’s City 1 Network of 24 stations (quarter on quarter), ahead of the upcoming changes to the network shows when Hits Radio starts saw 15 of them lose reach and 9 of them add listeners in the last three months. Notable stories include Gem 106, Radio City, Clyde 1 and Forth 1 all losing around 30,000 listeners each. Those increasing audience include Metro, Radio Aire, Free Radio Birmingham, Northsound 1, MFR and West Sound.

Radio Aire 77,000 -> 83,000
Radio Borders 57,000 -> 52,000
C.F.M 111,000 -> 108,000
Radio City 377,000 -> 346,000
Clyde 1 514,000 -> 486,000
Cool FM 503,000 -> 482,000
Downtown Radio (DTR) 266,000 -> 258,000
Forth 1 351,000 -> 326,000
Free Radio FM (Birmingham & Black Country) 262,000 -> 289,000
Free Radio FM (Coventry & Warwickshire) 122,000 -> 124,000
Free Radio FM (Herefordshire & Worcestershire) 86,000 -> 85,000
Free Radio FM (Shropshire) 66,000 -> 71,000
Gem 106 561,000 -> 524,000
Hallam FM 348,000 -> 340,000
Key 103 385,000 -> 383,000
Metro Radio 274,000 -> 298,000
Moray Firth Radio 114,000 -> 116,000
Northsound 1 125,000 -> 138,000
Rock FM 197,000 -> 191,000
Tay FM 139,000 -> 128,000
TFM Radio 96,000 -> 97,000
Viking FM 204,000 -> 201,000
Wave 105 FM 422,000 -> 407,000
West Sound 166,000 -> 175,000

BBC Local Radio now reaches a total 8.57 million listeners per week, up from 8.30m last quarter and 8.26m this time last year. Local Radio in England has an audience of 6.191m, down from 6.297m in Q4/2017.

BBC Radio London’s audience drops this quarter by 120,000 listeners (574k to 454k).

Services in York, Sussex & Surrey, Coventry & Warwickshire and Cambridgeshire have all lost around 20,000 listeners quarter on quarter.

The best increases were seen at Bristol (up 19,000), Leeds (up 21,000), Manchester (up 38,000) and Berkshire (up 43,000).

The main BBC nations services for Wales, Ulster and Scotland all added audience – Radio Wales is up 30,000; Radio Ulster up 44,000 and Radio Scotland up 71,000 compared with Q4/2017. BBC Radio Cymru dropped 5,000 listeners though.

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1 Comment
  1. Mr Boltar says

    Not surprised BBC London is losing listeners, its an appalling listen. The breakfast show is dire and the rest of it sounds like Geriatric FM. I live in London but I listen to 3CR in preference. I suspect if it wasn’t for people trying to escape from the tedious hard news format of LBC they’d hardly have any listeners at all.

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