Virgin audience up 20 per cent

The remarkable ability of Chris Evans to attract listeners to Virgin Radio shows no sign of slowing down, with the station’s audience growing by 20 per cent across its AM and FM channels for the second quarter running, according to the latest Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar).

The station, owned by an Evans-led consortium, now claims 4.2 million listeners. Evans himself attracted 234,000 new listeners to his breakfast show over the last quarter.

In comparison, Radio 1’s breakfast show with Zoe Ball and Kevin Greening lost almost 100,000 listeners, although it still pulls in 4.7 million people while Evans’ breakfast show audience stands at 2.4 million.

Overall, every national commercial radio network shows audience gains, with the most significant being Classic FM’s rise to just over 5 million listeners, the first time a commercial station has crossed this threshold.

Commercial radio not only held its lead over the BBC radio network, but increased it from 1.6 per cent to 2.4 per cent in this quarter. Commercial radio has a 50.1 per cent share of listening compared with BBC’s 47.7 per cent. The remaining 2.2 per cent of listening is made up of stations too small to be included in Rajar’s research sample.

A spokeswoman for the commercial radio marketing body Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) says: “Commercial radio has stayed in front [of the BBC] for the fifth quarter in a row and validates the confidence shown in it by advertisers.”

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