Heart 106.2 snatches top place from Capital

Chrysalis Radio was celebrating this week after its Heart 106.2 station overtook Capital to become the most-listened-to station in London.

Heart posted its highest-ever share of listening in London of 7.2 per cent, while Capital saw its audience share fall by more than a quarter as Chris Tarrant's breakfast show lost listeners ahead of his replacement by Johnny Vaughan early next year.

The Chrysalis station boasted its highest-ever audience reach of 1.9 million and celebrated reaching number one in reach, hours and share for the 25- to 44-year-old target audience. Listening for its breakfast show, hosted by Jono Coleman, was steady, but it added listeners in other parts of the day.

However, on the measure of total audience reach, Capital continued to top Heart with an average of 2.2 million listeners a week.

Don Thomson, the commercial director at Chrysalis, said: "We've achieved it with consistency and a clear vision of sticking to what we do best.

We certainly haven't peaked, we've always had our sights on Capital since we started and we're capable of continuing the upward trend but I'm sure Capital will come back fighting."

Linda Grant, Capital Radio's managing director for national commercial, said: "We'd rather have the numbers going up than down, but we're in a transition phase."

There was good news for commercial radio as a whole with a growth in share of almost 1 per cent, while the BBC's national network stations fell by 0.5 per cent.

The growth of national digital stations - there are now 17 stations reporting national figures compared with four a year ago - helped to take listeners from the BBC, but also contributed to a fall in local commercial listening.

Of the stations reporting national figures, on the back of launching on the Sky Digital, Freeview, cable and DAB platforms, Emap's boasted the highest listening figures. Magic had an audience of 2.8 million, Kiss 2.6 million and Kerrang! 864,000. Capital's Xfm station produced a national audience of 634,000 via Sky Digital and DAB.

Commercial radio celebrated its 30th anniversary with figures revealing that more than 31 million adults listen to commercial stations each week.

Alison Winter, the research and communications manager of the Commercial Radio Companies Association, said: "The results show commercial radio really knows its audiences, with hours listened every week up more than 3 per cent from last year. Strong performances among our core 15- to 24-year-old listeners and from the many services now available UK-wide indicate a bright future for both for commercial radio and for our advertisers."

RADIO STATIONS RANKED BY SHARE OF LISTENING SEPT 2003

Share of Share of Change

listening % listening % %

Sept 2003 Sept 2002

All commercial 46.2 45.3 0.9

All BBC network 40.9 41.4 -0.5

All local commercial 36.8 38.1 -1.3

Heart 106.2 7.2 6.3 0.9

95.8 Capital FM 7.0 8.8 -1.8

Magic 104.5 5.0 4.0 1.0

Classic FM 4.5 4.5 0.0

Kiss 100 4.1 4.8 -0.8

104.9 Xfm 2.1 2.1 0.0

Jazz FM (London) 2.0 1.9 0.1

TalkSPORT 1.5 1.7 -0.2

Virgin Radio (AM) 1.2 1.1 0.1

Source: Rajar.

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