Heart regains top spot in the capital

Rajar figures reveal a strong first quarter of 2005 boosted Heart 106.2's audience share and reach in the London market.

Heart 106.2, the Chrysalis-owned station, had a strong first quarter of 2005, regaining the lead in the London radio market.

It stole the top spot from 95.8 Capital FM, which led in both the first quarter of 2004 and the final quarter of 2004. As well as increasing its percentage share of listening, Heart also increased its audience reach by 4.1 per cent to 1.86 million listeners.

However, there was good news for Capital. Its breakfast show, hosted by Johnny Vaughan, added 100,000 listeners to take his audience to 1.24 million, ahead of all competitors in London. However, the impact of Jamie Theakston, who replaced Jono Coleman on Heart's breakfast show, has yet to be felt.

The audience figures, issued last week by Rajar, coincided with the release of bad news from GCap, the group created by the merger of Capital and GWR, indicating that ad revenue for April was down 17 per cent year on year.

Magic 105.4, which had moved up to second place in the London market in the final quarter of 2004 after displacing Heart, slipped back to third.

However, its share was down only slightly period on period and rose by 1.4 per cent year on year.

Virgin Radio's breakfast duo, Pete and Geoff, added 90,000 London listeners, a 17 per cent rise to 600,000.

Commenting on Heart's performance, Phil Riley, the chief executive of Chrysalis Radio, said: "This is the first tangible result of Heart's rebrand and refresh strategy, which has seen the station update its music policy and daytime presenter line-up, and invest in new imaging and marketing for the station."

Keith Pringle, the managing director of Capital FM, said: "The share result is frustrating but we're still ahead of our competitors in terms of how many listeners we have. This provides an active, focused vision.

It's vital advertising sits in this type of environment."

LONDON COMMERCIAL STATIONS

Station Share of Quarter 4 Quarter 1

listening (%) 2004 (%) 2005 (%)

Heart 106.2 7.0 5.3 5.8

95.8 Capital FM 6.1 6.2 7.9

Magic 105.4 6.0 6.1 4.6

Kiss 100 FM 3.9 3.9 4.2

Virgin London (AM/FM) 3.7 3.3 3.0

Source: Rajar

NATIONAL COMMERCIAL STATIONS

Station Share of Quarter 4 Quarter 1

listening (%) 2004 (%) 2005 (%)

Classic FM 4.1 4.4 4.5

Total Heart 2.2 1.8 2.2

TalkSPORT 1.9 1.6 1.9

Century Radio (Network) 1.6 1.6 -

Total Virgin Radio 1.5 1.4 1.4

Source: Rajar