Radio audiences grow as BBC and commercial register gains

Radio audiences grew by more than 600,000 in the first quarter to hit 47.3 million, driven by gains by both commercial and BBC stations, according to the latest RAJAR figures. 

Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw has lost almost a million listeners since taking over the breakfast show from Chris Moyles last year.

Quarterly radio industry figures released today (16 May) show that on average 47.3 million people tuned into a radio station each week during the three months to 16 May, up from 46.7 million in the same period last year.

Just over 90 per cent of the UK population listened to the radio in the period, up from 89.8 per cent a year ago.


National commercial radio stations’ audience numbers grew to 33.4 million in the period, up from 33.2 million in the first quarter 2012. The total time spent listening to national and local commercial radio stations, however, fell to 4.3 million hours, down from 4.5 million.

Absolute Radio, Jazz FM and Xfm were notable performers among national commercial radio stations with the brands increasing their audience numbers by 4.7 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 18.7 per cent respectively.


Meanwhile, the audience of BBC stations also increased to 35 million from 34.6 million a year earlier. Like commercial stations, the number of hours people listened fell year on year – 575.7 million hours during the period, down from 589.2 million last year.

Radio’s 2, 3 and 4 increased listener numbers in the period but youth-focussed Radio 1 reported a loss. Its breakfast show, presented by Nick Grimshaw, has lost 900,000 listeners since Grimshaw took over from Chris Moyles in September. Grimshaw registered 5.8 million in the quarter, down from the 6.7 million Moyles posted in his final quarter.

In contrast, the Chris Evans-fronted Radio 2 breakfast show saw its audience swell to 9.8 million, up from 9.2 million 12 months earlier.  


Meanwhile, digital radio listening hours continued to rise accounting for 34.3 per cent of all listening hours during the quarter, up 17 per cent year on year.

In total, 26 million people – half the UK population – listened to the radio via digital each week in the period, up 11 per cent year on year, accounting for 22.5 per cent of all radio listening during the period.

Bauer Media’s digital stations performed notably during the period with its recently-acquired, digital-only station Planet Rock reaching 836,000 listeners, up 4.1 per cent year on year.