RAJAR Q1 2019: Regional and local radio facts and figures

Whilst the national news is all about new radio stations and breakfast shows, the main headlines in the regions are about one of Bauer’s latest brands.

The first results for Greatest Hits Radio in England show a mainly downward trend following the rebrand from City 2 stations last quarter.

  • GHR E.Yorks & N.Lincs (Viking 2) down from 56,000 to 32,000 (was 83,000 a year ago)
  • GHR Lancashire (Rock FM 2) down from 46,000 to 28,000 (was 44,000 a year ago)
  • GHR Liverpool (City 2) down from 218,000 to 160,000 (was 198,000 a year ago)
  • GHR Manchester (Key Radio) down from 58,000 to 30,000 (was 105,000 a year ago)
  • GHR North East (Metro 2) down from 67,000 to 36,000 (was 63,000 a year ago)
  • GHR South Yorks (Hallam 2) down from 108,000 to 46,000 (was 107,000 a year ago)
  • GHR Teesside (TFM2) down from 45,000 to 18,000 (was 36,000 a year ago)
  • GHR West Yorks (Aire 2) down from 42,000 to 28,000 (was 56,000 a year ago)
  • GHR West Midlands (105.2 frequency surveyed as Absolute Radio West Midlands) down from 273,000 to 181,000 (was 226,000 a year ago)

“Greatest Hits Radio” debuts with 556,000 listeners in England.

Observations from Bauer’s Hits Radio network this quarter:

  • Hits Radio Manchester up from 271,000 to 302,000 (was 383,000 a year ago)
  • Radio Aire down from 74,000 to 65,000 (was 83,000 a year ago)
  • Radio City up from 311,000 to 339,000 (was 346,000 a year ago)
  • Downtown Radio down from 243,000 to 194,000 (was 258,000 a year ago)
  • Forth 1 down from 315,000 to 274,000 (was 326,000 a year ago)
  • Free Radio Coventry/Warks down from 141,000 to 87,000 (was 124,000 a year ago)
  • Metro Radio down from 278,000 to 248,000 (was 298,000 a year ago)
  • Rock FM down 202,000 to 171,000 (was 191,000 a year ago)
  • Viking FM up from 134,000 to 161 (was 201,000 a year ago)

At the BBC, the total figure for Local Radio has dropped slightly from 5.9m to 5.8m. Just a few stations have seen a significant quarterly change (+/- 25k), including:

  • BBC Radio Cambridgeshire down from 124,000 to 89,000 (was 72,000 a year ago)
  • BBC Radio Humberside up from 120,000 to 147,000 (was 155,000 a year ago)
  • BBC Radio London down from 565,000 to 435,000 (was 454,000 a year ago)
  • BBC Radio Sheffield down from 260,000 to 214,000 (was 263,000 a year ago)
  • BBC Radio Solent down from 218,000 to 190,000 (was 266,000 a year ago)

Capital stations showing a major change this quarter include:

  • Capital Birmingham up from 393,000 to 469,000 (was 430,000 a year ago)
  • Capital East Midlands up from 473,000 to 516,000 (was 563,000 a year ago)
  • Capital Manchester down from 500,000 to 435,000 (was 511,000 a year ago)
  • Capital Scotland down from 567,000 to 528,000 (was 488,000 a year ago)

Capital Brighton has added an extra 2,000 listeners each week, whilst Capital Liverpool is down 1,000. Capital Lancashire started after this survey ended, with 2BR’s final results standing at 79,000 weekly reach down from 86,000.

Capital London still has the biggest commercial radio weekly reach in London, with 1.766m listeners, down from 1.866m last quarter.

Out of the Heart services, the majority are down this quarter, with the newest, Heart North Lancs and Cumbria, staying the same. Noticable jumps include:

  • Heart North East down from 315,000 to 277,000 (was 320,000 a year ago)
  • Heart North West up from 656,000 to 678,000 (was 626,000 a year ago)
  • Heart Scotland down from 400,000 to 371,000 (was 420,000 a year ago)
  • Heart South Wales down from 463,000 to 410,000 (was 399,000 a year ago)
  • Heart Thames Valley up from 301,000 to 328,000 (was 314,000 a year ago)
  • Heart West Country down from 620,000 to 589,000 (was 540,000 a year ago)

At Smooth, the newest service covering the Lake District has lost a thousand listeners, taking down to 10,000 weekly reach. Smooth Radio North West remains over a million, allowing it to remain the most listened to commercial radio station in the UK outside London. Elsewhere:

  • Smooth East Midlands is up from 436,000 to 455,000 (was 457,000 a year ago)
  • Smooth Radio North East is down from 528,000 to 508,000 (was 519,000 a year ago)
  • Smooth Radio Scotland is up from 337,000 to 357,000 (was 399,000 a year ago)
  • Smooth Radio West Midlands is up from 497,000 to 521,000 (was 519,000 a year ago)

Around the local radio scene, here are a few more significant changes quarter on quarter:

  • Chris Country (London) down from 49,000 to 26,000 (was 34,000 a year ago)
  • Connect FM, soon to be rebranded as Smooth Radio, has increased from 54,000 to 59,000 (was 49,000 a year ago)
  • Fire Radio continues to increase up from 65,000 to 73,000 (was 45,000 a year ago)
  • JACKfm Oxford is up from 52,000 to 68,000 (was 83,000 a year ago)
  • JACK Radio reports 85,000 listeners across the UK
  • kmfm has recorded its highest ever reach with 210,000 listeners, up from 200,000
  • Love Sport Radio’s first figures are out – the London station has 38,000 listeners via AM and DAB
  • Lincs FM is up from 254,000 to 280,000 (was 279,000 a year ago)
  • Minster FM is celebrating its highest Reach since 2011 – with 82,000 listeners, up from 77,000 (was 69,000 a year ago)
  • More Radio down from 49,000 to 37,000 (was 49,000 a year ago)
  • Nation Radio North Wales has a static weekly reach of 1,000 listeners
  • Nation Radio London has 5,000 listeners, up from 4,000 last quarter
  • Panjab Radio is down from 187,000 to 163,000
  • Pulse 1 up from 85,000 to 118,000 (was 109,000 a year ago)
  • Radio Mansfield is up from 26,000 to 32,000 (was 27,000 a year ago)
  • Sam FM South Coast has increased under new owners Nation, up from 167,000 to 182,000 (was 141,000 a year ago)
  • Scottish Sun Hits has almost doubled its reach, going up from 5,000 listeners to 8,000.
  • Scottish Sun 80s and Scottish Sun Hits are also up.
  • Signal One up from 224,000 to 244,000 (was 249,000 a year ago)
  • The Breeze (South West – North) has doubled its hours and increased its reach to its highest ever, now at 110,000 from 98,000
  • The Voice in Devon also reports its first results – it has 11,000 Weekly Reach
  • Tower FM is up from 35,000 to 40,000 (was 22,000 a year ago)
  • Town 102 is down this quarter from 31,000 to 24,000 (was 38,000 a year ago)
  • XS Manchester is up from 90,000 to 94,000 (was 114,000 a year ago)


Group Programme Director for the former Wireless local radio stations, Terry Underhill said; “With competition increasing for listeners every day, it’s a testament to the hard work of our local programmers, presenters, news and production staff that we’ve seen these impressive results today. Overall the stations have increased reach by 6% year on year and added 1.04 million listening hours in the same period, an impressive 16% growth.

“When the groups 80s stations are added, the growth is 8% up in reach and 18% in total hours (over 1.2 million hours increase).”

Minster FM Content Director David Green said the key to the station’s success is simple, “it’s about being the place local people turn to, if it’s happening in York and North Yorkshire, we know about it and we’re already talking about it.

“The news comes shortly after the winner of the station’s Search For A Star Competition, Laura Castle began her role as breakfast co-host alongside established presenter Ben Fry.”

Welcoming the Scottish Sun Radio figures, Richard Bogie, Managing Director of News Scotland and News Ireland, said: “We are delighted with these figures, which show significant growth in the first quarter of the year. The Scottish Sun stations were only launched last year, and we are making excellent progress.

“The demographic reach of the stations is strong – particularly among the 25-34 age group – and they offer advertisers and commercial partners valuable opportunities to reach people in Scotland through our Scottish Sun brands.


Have we missed a significant quarterly or yearly change? Let us know via [email protected]

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  1. Ron Dobbyn says

    BBC Radio London needs a shake up . The 10 hour a week “The Scene” should be cut to 2hrs a week, and the hours used to cater for Londoner’s wide range of listeners interests with new shows.

  2. Danny Rhodes says

    kmfm has achieved it’s biggest ever reach of 210,000 liseners (178,000 a year ago) and posting 1.43 million hours. Don’t forget the guys in the bottom of the country. We are still representing!

  3. t1 says

    Bauer have made a mess of the Midlands since taking over Orion. Free radio stations are all down. Coventry free radio has lost over 50,000 listeners in 3 months. Greatest Hits Radio re-brand is a disaster. Poor logo, poor output and now poor listening figures. What a messy situation your in. Let’s hope you have more success with latest radio purchases.

    1. Andrew Coulson says

      Indeed, Greatest Hits Radio isn’t doing very well (to put it politely).

      It’s great to see that Pulse 1 are doing well and listening figures are on the up. It’s just a shame it’s been purchased by Bauer and will potentially be rebranded and networked with The Hits network down the line, subject to the current “on-hold” situation.

      1. SJ says

        Free Radio Birmingham AND Black Country (two stations combined, remember) now reaches 250,000. This is woeful. If Bauer are going to roll out the Hits brand then the Midlands is surely the place to start.

        1. William says

          Call it how you like but Bauer have performed miserably with the City 2/ Greatest Hits Network since scrapping the local AM Magic Stations. They haven’t performed the same since the heady days of Nick Wright, Dave Campbell, Ray Rose et al. People tuned in to their local breakfast show and stayed listening all day, now they don’t listen at all.

      2. MICHAEL BOLTON says

        The LR Stations of Minster / Pirate / Mix 96 stations and (but maybe lesser so) the ex-Wireless Group stations do pretty well and of course added market share to the Bauer Portfolio BUT they come with a problem. They are very strong in thier local markets because they play local very heavily. Moreso than a lot of the pre-heart GCAP stations or Regionals that became Heart / Smooth did.

        Any strategy for them as part of Bauer must involve being consumed in core brands GHR / Hits and (let’s face it cost synergies MUST be made) poentially losing thier studios (Could Eagle / Mix 96 share a show as Hits South East!!!!??? I think so in the new OFCXOM world) or Signal coming from Manchester or Birmingham!) Essentially it means Bauer wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch in these areas – hard work. Great to have an FM frequency / DAB placement to add to a network but thats one hell of a transition to manage through both internally in the business and fgor the listener!
        So there is a big job to consume all the acquisitions even once all the arms length stuff is out of the way.

        For Bauer to build up brands and evolve into such a well structured business set up (you might not like the current Global move to national shows and station clsures but it’s a well thought through and executed business strategy and machine) is going to be quite a journey. They have so much potential but so much is patchy and badly executed.

        They have amazing people, a great portfolio of stations (both heritage and new) but never seem to get it together. All i see from th above chart is that even if you positioned the stations as in transition they’re pretty poor.

      3. Mark Levy says

        Do they take into account for what people listen to (or aren’t actually listening to) in charity shops?

  4. Stuart says

    Bauer, Lesson 1, Local Identity Counts.
    How to wipe away listeners in 1easy step, out of touch, disconnected, management.
    Truley shocking results for GHR re brand.

  5. Ben Wright says

    We need a blues radio people are missing out on what the blues is. We need a blues show on radio one they are a lot of new blues music around and artists. And a Irish show on radio 2. If the radio stations want more listens they need to listen to what people want

  6. Lee says

    Not good news for the Greatest Hits network, but then watch the figures at the end of the next quarter as this is Rajar we are talking sbout. I’m always suspecious of the figures Im sure it will be suggested that a radio station has lost an audience this quater but will regain them back atvge end of the next quater. No one seems to be quite sure how audience’s are measured and Rajar very secretive about it. A radio station will lose an audience during one quarter and regain the next. Remember Rajar figures support the selling of commercials, and radio stations subscribe to Rajar. Vested interest? Watch this space I guess.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      Rajar have been using an outdated system for years.

  7. Radio Geordie says

    So basically, everything that operates under a brand name or network has hemorraged listeners whilst those that don’t have seen increases.
    Funny isn’t it?

    Would be interesting to know how many are listening to community radio & for how long. Unfortunately, as these stations can’t afford to pay for it, we’ll never know – and its in the big boys best interest that we don’t either.

    1. mb23 says

      There is a box in RAJAR for this called “other stations”. The market share of other stations is 2.8%.

      The Voice in North Devon is in RAJAR and has a 1.8% market share (Heart North Devon has a 10.9% share).

      1. Radio Geordie says

        But that doesn’t give an accurate number as ‘others’ also include commercial stations which don’t take part (or pay to be included) in Rajar as well as internet-based services, DAB only services and Community Radio. Most of the independent stations in Northern Scotland would be lumped under ‘others’ because they don’t pay to be surveyed and barely break-even.
        The Voice North Devon are only there because they’ve paid to be included.
        As I said earlier, its not in the big boys interest to let the public know that they’re losing listeners to community or internet only services.

  8. Michael Burke says

    Here’s hoping that someone starts to look at all local BBC stations. The listening figures are truly shocking. Cambs has seen a downward trend over the last few years. Unfortunately it seems a lack of budget means a lack of quality presenters and production.

  9. Andy says

    I have put on Greatest Hits Radio and like the fab tunes. As a courier i tune in sometimes on local DAB in P’boro/Cambs but there is plenty of room to have them in stereo. Use fm in the areas when i travel into them

  10. Radio Geordie says

    The next 3 quarters are going to be interesting after the nationalised breakfast shows of Capital, Heart & Smooth have started.

    The one thing that makes me laugh about the Rajars is that every station which takes part all claim (& have always claim) that they’ve more listeners than ever.
    Somewhat impossible isn’t it?

  11. Kev says

    A Bauer Media spokesman said: “Losing 70 per cent of the audience for our AM station in Manchester is a huge achievement for our management team. Of course, we’re hugely indebted to OFCOM for allowing us to help kill independent local radio.”

  12. Dave says

    Community radio is covered well in Birmingham by big city radio give everyone a go

  13. Chris says

    Free Radio was a disaster started by Orion, they re-branded Beacon Radio which was well known and listened to.
    Bauer need a miracle to get it all off the ground again.

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