RAJAR Q3 2018: Regional and local radio round-up

Manchester is once again our focus on the local radio round-up, where the station previously known as Key 103 has lost more listeners.

Hits Radio (Manchester) is reporting 325,000 weekly reach, compared with 374,000 last quarter. This is half the amount of listeners it had four years ago. Newly rebranded Key Radio (previously Key 2) has 53,000 listeners compared with 81,000 three months ago. Hits Radio’s Market Share has dropped from 5.2% to 3.9% and hours are down by 561,000 in three months.

Other headlines and observations from around the UK include:

Capital Brighton’s second RAJAR is up compared with its first, from 33,000 to 36,000 weekly reach but the average hours are down from 5.2 to 4.2

Pulse 1 has increased listening hours by 23.3% in the last three months and 61.2% year-on-year. The breakfast show with Mylo & Rosie, winner of best music show at breakfast in last weeks ARIA awards, now beats both Heart and Capital in its TSA

Cheshire’s Silk 106.9 has recorded its lowest ever reach with 9,000 weekly listeners compared with 16,000 a year ago

Guernsey’s Island FM gains 2,000 listeners year-on-year to deliver 60% weekly reach – and now delivers highest weekly reach percentage in British Isles. Sister station Channel 103 in Jersey grows market share and scores second highest reach percentage in British Isles

Yorkshire Coast Radio is reporting its biggest audience ever, with increases in reach, hours and share. Every week 59,400 adults tune in to the station, giving it a Weekly Reach of 53%

Tower FM continues to grow: reach has increased by 36% quarter-on-quarter and 17.2% year-on-year. Hours have also grown 10.5% quarter-on-quarter and 4% year-on-year

Some of Bauer’s local stations showing an increase this quarter include Clyde 1 with 553,000 listeners – growing 2% YoY, Rock FM growing 10% year on year with 230,000 listeners, and Radio City 2 growing 25% in 12 months, now with 218,000 listeners

BBC Local Radio reached 7.84 million listeners per week, from 7.87 m last quarter and 8.25m last year

Wireless Group’s Scottish Sun radio stations double to 27,000 weekly listeners between them – Scottish Sun Hits, Scottish Sun 80s, and Scottish Sun Greatest Hits

Peak FM has seen reach increase by 15.7% quarter-on-quarter and 32.8% year-on-year. Total hours have also increased 15.5% quarter-on-quarter and a staggering 72.6% year-on-year.

Minster FM now has 80,000 people tuning in each week across North Yorkshire, the highest figure for the UKRD station since 2011

Star Radio (Cambridge & Ely) is up 50% from 6% reach to 9% reach in its 2nd survey – now with 26,000 listeners

At Buckinghamshire’s Mix96, the station has 9,000 more listeners than last quarter, taking them to 51,000 weekly reach

kmfm is up 26% this quarter, giving the station 189,000 listeners across Kent – one of its best

Smooth Radio West Country (formerly Gold) is posting its highest ever reach, with 129,000 compared with 103,000 a year ago

Free Radio Birmingham, originally BRMB, has recorded its lowest ever reach with 254,000, down from 286,000 last year

Capital Yorkshire, previously consistently reporting over a million listeners, is down again at 934,000

Capital North Wales is also at an all-time low weekly reach, with 116,000 down from 176,000 year on year

Lakeland Radio’s switch to Smooth isn’t off to a good start; down 25% reach year on year to 12,000 listeners

And a similar scene at The Bay as it surveys as Heart – its lowest ever weekly reach of 74,000 and 26% share has been recorded

Chris County has recorded a big jump to its highest ever London weekly reach at 42,000 (from 30,000 last quarter)

Dragon Radio Wales is up (31,000 to 35,000) whilst Nation Radio London is down (15,000 to 9,000)

For the sixth time in its relatively short history, M-Soul Radio (launched in 2015 by the founders of Kiss FM) has posted a double-figure percentage increase in Total Weekly Hours, which grew from 847,000 (Q2 2018) to 1,160,000 (Q3 2018) an increase of 37%


Richard Bogie, Managing Director of News Scotland, said: “We are delighted with these figures, which show that we have built on the early success we enjoyed in the first half of the year, and this gives us momentum as we press ahead with exciting plans for its future. We are focused on delivering entertaining content for listeners and ensuring that we entice more and more people to tune in and enjoy all that our stations have to offer.

“The Scottish Sun radio stations are a strong addition to our print and digital offering for readers, listeners and advertisers and are a growing part of our strategy. The increasing reach of our brands across platforms is creating excellent new opportunities for commercial partners.”

Terry Underhill, Group Programme Director for Wireless, added: “What a great day for radio in Scotland. “We always knew that the there was a gap in the market for some new and exciting radio stations, and the results we’ve received today confirm how popular our Scottish Sun stations are. To see these stations doubling in audience in just 12 weeks gives us great confidence to grow still further. Whether it’s the fantastic breadth of music on Scottish Sun Greatest Hits, the newest music on Scottish Sun Hits or the hugely popular Scottish Sun 80s, all stations are performing spectacularly well.”

Chris Sigsworth, Managing Director of Yorkshire Coast Radio, and one of the original launch team says “We couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate 25 years. To achieve our highest audience ever, at a time when the choice of listening is greater than ever before, is proof that the appetite for proper local radio is as great now as it has ever been.”

Content Manager, Matthew Pells, adds “There is a strong sense of community on the Yorkshire Coast, we aim to reflect that in our output by providing strong news content, by talking about what is happening in the local area and by being accessible to local people, it’s great to see that in this increasingly digital world there is still a massive appetite for local radio.”

Channel 103 and Island FM Station Director James Keen says: “These numbers are a testament to the hard work shown by our teams who daily combine great radio with a real focus on what makes the islands’ communities tick.”

Minster FM’s David Green says: “We’re delighted with today’s audience figures. Since taking over the Thirsk and Northallerton frequencies we’ve committed ourselves to run separate locally relevant content in those towns wherever possible. Now we’re seeing the returns as listeners in our new extended area turn to Minster FM for the same great mix of locally relevant news, travel, entertainment and music as neighbouring areas have been doing for over a quarter of a century.”

Max Hailey, the Mix96 MD said: “Everyone here at Mix96 is absolutely delighted by these incredible results. We’ve got more people listening now than at any point in Mix96’s history – 51,000 people tune in every week.

“We work hard to deliver proper local radio, bringing you the local news, travel information and weather alongside Bucks best mix of music and fantastic presenters like Ben & Nia at breakfast, Nathan Cooper and Wes Venn. Thank you to everyone who’s listening and all of our great advertisers. Mix96 turns 25 next year so this set of audience figures is a fantastic early birthday present!”

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  1. Chris says

    Utterly shocking but completely unsurprising set of figures for Hits Radio, terrible output.

    Bauer’s local station’s 7-8 years ago had it right, all this networking along with bland presenters/ crap imaging & branding is killing them. Really quite sad to see.

  2. Dan Dean says

    What a meaningless embarrassment these so called listener figures are , the samples are so minute and hit and miss that they are irrelevant.
    Anyone with any common sense and knowledge of these things will tell you that, and worst still the comments of these so called programmers with their meaningless drivel about the meaningless drivel they produce.

    1. Adrian says

      Yeah,maybe it’s just me but that proper local radio phrase always gets to me,it’s a turn-off every time I hear it together with all these repeated phrases between each song on many commercial stations but obviously i’m In the minority as people seem to love constant repetition.

  3. Len Groat says

    What a sad day for UK radio when the mighty Piccadilly’s descendant ‘Hits’ has such awful audience figures. Founded by EX ‘Big L 266’ man Philip Birch, he was THE force behind it and EVERYONE in Manchester knew it or listened to it…

    I count myself lucky I had 9 months there in ’76 working with Steve England, and even sat-in for THE Roger Day on breakfast.

    If I am a ‘radio dinosaur’ I’m glad to be one – it’s preferable to trying to do a breakfast show with a ‘gang’ talking all over the main DJ…

    But it’s not just ‘Hits’ that is on a terminal decline – behind these figures is the inescapable trend that the ‘young’ do not need/use radio as previous generations did.

    It’s time commercial radio started to focus on the meat, not the gravy! They need to aim for audiences 30-65 , as they had far better and more real ‘music’ ( ! ) are home owners, and have spare income to spend on the products these stations need to sell via their adverts to survive!!

    1. mb23 says

      Piccadilly didn’t have to compete with 40 national digital stations, plus several other local stations in Manchester. The figures are always going to reduce with that level of competition. What Bauer lose with Hits they gain with their other brands (mainly Absolute & Kiss).

      For the record Hits is aimed at 25-45 year olds.

    2. rob charles says

      Well said, kids, listen to Spotify, Apple music & can’t stand the drivel that comes out of some jocks. Concentrate on programming for the older population. WCBS in New York 7 Radio City 2 in Liverpool shows that the older listener still enjoys good radio.

  4. Tony Barker says

    For correct English: “This is half the amount of listeners it had four years ago” should be amended to read: “This is half the number of listeners”. I do encourage Radio Today to set a good example.

  5. Joe Smith says

    What a farce. The standard of radio in this country continues to decline so loads of listeners get fed up listening to rubbish and switch to different stations in a futile hope that they will be better which of course they aren’t so a few weeks later they switch again.

    Then every three months these entirely meaningless figures are produced showing that some stations have increased listeners and their management say that this is because they are wonderful whilst other stations have lost listeners and their management say it is a temporary blip.

    Meanwhile things continue as bad as ever and three months later we have the next set of RAJAR’s meaningless nonsense.



    It’s nice to see Mix96 mentioned – on what must be a small staff and tight budgets they are all over Aylesbury and local events in a small TSA working hard to be local, relevant and a good listen Vs the bigger national brands.
    I’m assuming BAUER is going to talk of playing the long game with Hits Radio and early days but Hits (Key) and Free (Birmingham) are near neading intensive care. I’m not thier biggest fan but at least Global have a clear powerful strategy.

  7. Lee says

    Where are there no comments from Global managememt relating to the big decreases in their listenership to Capital in many of the northern regions, and their replacements for Lakeland Radio and the Bay which have seen a 25 per cent drop. Odd that they have not commented perhaps as they can’t spin this bad news. But I doubt they will change tact!!! Good to see some local radio stations with local content doing well like Minster FM, Yorkshire Coast Radio and Mix 96. Perhaps a lesson for Global?

    1. mb23 says

      You have cherry-picked a few examples of local stations that have had a good quarter, but there are others that have had a bad one. Wave 105 is live and local and they have had three poor RAJAR books in a row.

  8. Stuart says

    I’ve listened to commercial radio since 1975. I’ve heard a lot of changes, mostly for the worse. Most stations are so bland now and rotate such a narrow amount of tracks. The individuality has all but disappeared with the advent of large groups of same-old stations. When you finally find a station you like, it changes or closes (eg Jack 3 uk), something fresh and different replaced with dull mediocrity. Bring back stations like the original Power fm, Beacon Radio, Galaxy 101, Red Dragon fm etc.

  9. Jeza says

    Fire 107.6 share of listening in Bournemouth has increased from 3% to 3.6 % and it’s in Southampton

  10. sam says

    A 1% listener increase for 107.6 same as 107.2 Brighton

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