Talk Radio sales controller quits

Talk Radio UK sales controller Tracey Dollimore has left, along with sales executive Geoff Smith, new sales director David Lees confirmed this week.

The news emerged as Talk Radio defended its first listening figures published by Rajar on Monday, which showed audiences of 1.6 million adults during its first five weeks, well below the pre-launch target of 3 million.

Lees, who has been in the job for only one week, says the station is conducting extensive qualitative research into listeners’ likes and dislikes, and will “shortly” visit agencies with a new sales presentation.

He is working closely with GMTV Sunday programme editor Jeremy Thomas, who officially joins the station on May 9 as director of programming. Thomas replaces Jeremy Scott, who left the station last week.

Talk Radio managing director John Aumonier has ruled out a relaunch. He says the station’s performance in its first five weeks was better than he feared.

Commercial radio as a whole fairs well in the first quarter Rajar figures, although recent advances made against BBC radio in terms of listening hours and share have slowed. Commercial stations achieved a 48.4 per cent share of radio listening, against the BBC’s 48.7 per cent.

Local commercial stations’ share of weekly listening rose from 38 to 38.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Capital Radio’s London FM service gained nearly 250,000 listeners a week – giving a weekly total of 3.2 million. Melody 105.4FM increased its adult listening by 35 per cent, despite changing frequency during the research period. It now has 1 million listeners each week.

Of the national stations, Atlantic 252, Classic FM and Virgin 1215 saw a slight decrease in their share of listening hours compared with the last quarter.

However, Atlantic 252 and Virgin’s share rose year-on-year. Classic’s remained constant. Atlantic enjoyed a rise of just under 500,000 listeners to 4.4 million; Virgin increased its listening hours by 30 per cent year-on-year.

Classic’s average weekly listening hours rose from 5.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent year-on-year.

BBC Radio fared well, although Radio 1 suffered further loses – 495,000 listeners – giving it an adult audience of 10.51 million. Radio 5 Live’s share rose 15 per cent to 3.1 per cent of all radio listening, bringing its audience to 5.1 million.

Commercial radio advertising revenue was 55.3m for the first quarter of 1995. Significant growth came from national advertising revenue – up 48.5 per cent year-on-year; local revenue rose by seven per cent.

National advertisers’ attitude to radio is becoming steadily more sympathetic, says a Client Benchmark Survey for the Radio Advertising Bureau. It shows a halving of the number of clients who believe radio has limited value other than for local advertisers.

Renault has moved 1m from local press to commercial radio.