Radio listening recovered in the final quarter of 1997 after a
disappointing autumn, according to the latest Rajar results, while in
the breakfast show war, Virgin’s Chris Evans enjoyed the biggest
Listening figures for the last quarter of 1997 showed that the battle
for ratings between Virgin, Capital and Radio 1 led to an overall
increase in listeners.
All eyes were on the breakfast shows. Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans
Breakfast Show increased its weekly reach by 153,000 listeners in
London, and 657,000 nationally - up 33 and 41 per cent respectively.
Radio 1’s Zoe Ball and Kevin Greening show held steady in London and
added 280,000 (6 per cent) nationally. Chris Tarrant on London’s Capital
put 16.6 per cent on his audience, increasing it to 1,951,000.
The new London FM station, Xfm, which had a troubled launch during the
week after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, only managed a 2 per
cent weekly reach. Meanwhile, London News Direct was the fastest-growing
station in terms of reach, with a 49 per cent year-on-year increase to
Overall, 624,000 more people tuned in during this quarter than in the
third quarter, which saw a slump of 779,000. Contrary to industry
speculation, the gap between commercial radio and the BBC closed
substantially, with the BBC winning a 47.9 per cent share against
commercial radio’s 49.5 per cent. The 1.6 per cent differential compares
with the previous quarter’s 2.5 per cent.
Nationally, Classic FM achieved its equal best figures, with 4.9 million
weekly listeners. Talk Radio recorded its highest weekly reach with 2.4
million listeners, and its sister station, Atlantic 252, increased its
weekly reach by 32,000 listeners.
The BBC’s run of good figures included Radio 5 Live’s weekly reach
hitting five million, and Radio 2 holding the position of the highest
share of any station at 13 per cent.
David Fletcher, head of radio at CIA Medianetwork, said: ’The general
increase in reach and hours should alleviate the inflationary
Buyers now don’t have to try so hard to get the full campaign, as you
can achieve results in fewer spots.’