RAJAR Q3 2019: Regional and local radio facts and figures

The big stories from the regions are that Heart has increased its audience despite rolling out a national breakfast show, and Greatest Hits Radio stations are taking a beating under their new names.


For the Heart brand, overall, it has seen an increase in listeners since taking its breakfast show national. It now has 9.8m weekly reach compared with 9.7m last quarter and 9.6m last year.

In the regions, seven Hearts went up including Scotland and North East England, nine went down including West Midlands and two stayed the same.

At Capital, the national figure dropped from 7.1m to 7m in the last three months, and down from 7.4m 12 months ago, with all but three of the ‘new’ regional stations losing listeners. Capital North West (Lancashire (2BR) and Manchester), but Yorkshire, Midlands and Scotland lost listeners this quarter. Capital stations are surveyed half-yearly.

The Smooth network is up this quarter – from 5m to 5.1m. Newcomer Smooth Lake District stayed the same, whilst Smooth Scotland, Smooth North West and North East increased. Smooth East Midlands and West Midlands lost listeners this quarter.


One of Bauer’s latest regional brand, Greatest Hits Radio, has seen an overall increase this quarter. The network has 1.2m compared with 1.1m three months ago.

But some frequencies have seen major drops since being rebranded – Greatest Hits Radio (Lancashire) had 75,000 weekly reach a year ago compared with 11,000 this survey. Similarly for Metro 2 Radio (87k to 24k), Hallam 2 (133k to 32k), and Radio Aire 2 (59k to 17k).

At the Hits Radio FM Network, the flagship Manchester station took another hit this survey. Hits Radio Manchester had 325k listeners a year ago, but is now on 246k – another record low. Around the stations, 13 went up, including Clyde 1, Cool FM, Free Wolverhampton and Metro, whilst eight went down, including Radio City, Free Birmingham, Gem and Viking FM.

BBC Locals

The overall figure for BBC Local Radio in England remains mostly the same at 5.5m listeners each week.

Around the network, 16 stations went up including Berkshire and Cumbria, 21 went down including Leicester, Humberside and Leeds, and three stayed the same.

BBC Nation stations are relatively the same – although BBC Radio Scotland lost 78,000 listeners year on year, whilst Radio Wales went up by 51,000.

More observations

The group of radio stations formerly known as Wireless Local in England & Wales has had another solid set of numbers despite the uncertainty in the group.

The group’s market share is up to 8%, with total hours up by 2% and reach up by 2%.

Wire FM increased reach by 92% year on year – it now has 50,000 listeners compared with 26,000 a year ago.

Signal 1 is down this quarter but up year on year to 225,000 weekly reach.

The Wave in Swansea has increased reach from 123,000 to 137,000 and total hours by 16% year on year.

Pulse 2 increasing reach by 16% and total hours by 146% year on year.

Managing Director, Iain Fowler commented: “I’m thrilled with these results in what is a rapidly evolving radio landscape. They are a testament to the hard work of our talented teams who create engaging and entertaining radio every day.”

Group Programme Director, Terry Underhill said; “This is another great day for our group of stations and I’m delighted that the hard work and commitment shown by our presenters, news teams and programmers has once again paid off!”

Total Celador Radio has dropped from 567,000 listeners to 503,000. Most of The Breeze stations are down with the exception of Berkshire and Hampshire, which is up from 70,000 to 82,000 weekly reach.

Fire Radio has dropped from 57,000 to 44,000 quarter on quarter, one of its lowest figures in recent times.

Sam FM Bristol drops from 95,000 reach last quarter to 64,000, whilst Sam FM South Coast, now operated by Nation Broadcasting, is up from 167,000 to 182,000.

Lincs FM is up year on year but down quarter on quarter. It now has 311,000 listeners each week.

Quidem stations, soon to become part of the West Midlands Capital network, have all seen an increase in weekly reach this quarter, with the exception of Touch FM Warks which lost 4,000 listeners.

More Radio has recovered from its bad book last quarter, it now has 49,000 weekly reach compared with 27,000 last quarter.

Chris Country has almost doubled its weekly reach this quarter, going from 23,000 to 44,000 – taking it back to where it was a year ago.

Revolution 96.2 has seen another rise in weekly reach and listening hours this quarter, up from 23,000 to 28,000 year on year.

Connect FM, about to become Smooth Radio, has 44,000 weekly listeners compared to 51,000 last quarter and 52,000 last year.

The team at RadioToday manually look at every RAJAR result, every quarter, comparing quarterly and yearly differences in Weekly reach. If we have missed a significant increase or decrease, let us know and we’ll add an observation here. If you have a press release, send it on over to [email protected].

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  1. Niko says

    Typo: GHR Lancashire down to 77k from 11k?

    1. Radio Geordie says

      It reads that last year they had 77k, now they have 11k, unless its been corrected since your post.


    I note with some pleasure that Community Radio station “The Voice” has consolidated it’s position with a solid 8% reach and 13,000 listeners up another 8% Q on Q and market share also up by 13% Q on Q. A great result for a small station with limited transmitter power….

  3. sj says

    The Heart figures will be troubling for anyone who believed (or hoped) that regional shows on commercial radio were still important to listeners. Seems most people just don’t care about localness and, love or loathe them, Global’s strategy works.

    1. Dan Dean says

      Hello SJ …..what makes a presenter broadcasting from your town local ?. Yes your correct Global’s strategy does work, there will be more cut backs to the local output that remains. It will be gone in a couple of years with all their brands being National. That is the void that community radio should be looking at filling….being what is now Local BBC and old ILR local radio but it must be allowed to sell advertising within its broadcast area to make it viable and so employ people to make it a product that one can sell.

    2. Radio Geordie says

      May have more to do with many areas having little or no local competition.

    3. David says

      Heart figures have moved to every 6 months, so February will be the important book.

  4. Lee says

    Does anyone believe the RAJAR figures? I don’t believe them but if you do believe then Bauers Greatest Hits Network figures are shocking. I wonder how long it will be before they have to change strategy?

    1. Michael Bolton says

      There’s a strategy?
      The heart figures are what I expected. It was a big change and I think even they expected to have some dents in results, as a move for the business the reduction in cost base Vs audience change is a good result. I’m not the biggest Global fan but it’s a slick operation, tight brands, clear strategy and solid performance. I grudgingly salute thier performance and strategy.
      Bauer, Bauer , Bauer – so much talent, so many good brands, so much potential, such opportunity, but where Global it the mark time and again so Bauer miss. The elephant in the room Manchester – The home of the Hits Network – How do you take a brand that dies on its $%^& in its home city nationwide when you can’t prove it in its launch market?

  5. Brandon says

    What about centreforce 883..what are their figures?

    1. Radio Geordie says

      They only list the station’s that pay them.

  6. Ian Scott says

    What is (intentionally?) missing from these RAJAR figures, is the percentage of people who listen to FM.

    There is continual pushing that digital is on the increase – but why no details on FM?

  7. Owen says

    “Seems most people just don’t care about localness and, love or loathe them, Global’s strategy works.”

    Fair point SJ, yet it seems that most of the Bauer’s stations that haven’t fallen are ones still clinging on to local output or their original name…

  8. Michael V says

    Here in South East Wales, we’ve lost multiple local stations to national networking over the last 9 years. Ive kinda adopted The Wave in Swansea, for South West Wales as my daily listening.
    Their coverage is much wider on DAB than their FM coverage. Between DAB & using the TuneIn app.

    I haven’t given Capital any of my time or Kiss anymore. It seems like Bauer didn’t make the best move with creating The Hits.

    1. mb23 says

      The Wave will probably be Hits Radio Swansea next year

  9. John Deykin says

    Global are such a powerhouse. Very impressive. They never seem to miss a beat and stay ahead of the game in all respects. As for Bauer, several strategies seemed to have been badly thought through and implemented. I can’t even see much of a future for the Hits Radio network or Scala. The latter’s assertion that they play ‘classical music for modern life’ is meaningless verbiage: theIr play-out is overall indistinguishable from that of Classic FM.

    1. Joe Smith says

      Says the man from Global’s PR company.

  10. Iven says

    Global doing good bauer doing bad ultimately mean there will merger somewhere down line which has been the plan all a long to have one company to control all local radio as one nation company

  11. Debbie says

    Rubbish… Disappointed that a person who has so much media attention craves for more! Heart you have disappointed a lot of local listeners which has cost you more money! Must say that your choice has given me an opportunity to listen to a great morning show @radioessex x

  12. PopPicker92 says

    GHR Lancashire down from 77k to 11k, could this be anything to do with the fact that no local programming (from Preston) is actually broadcast on this station anymore, apart from local news and traffic information?

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