- Classic FM has broken through the 5 million listeners barrier in the RAJAR results for the 1st quarter of 1998.
The long-standing goal was met when the station recorded its highest-ever weekly reach, total hours and share, and an emerging younger audience was identified. Share rose from 3.3 per cent to 3.6 per cent year-on -year.
Of the other national commercial stations, Virgin also recorded its strongest-yet results, achieving a record 3.9 per cent share for the AM and FM frequencies combined -- rising from last quarter's 3.3 per cent share. Another climber was Talk Radio, which is being sold by its owner, CLT, and has increased its audience by 473,000 listeners year-on-year to a total of 2,267,000. Its sister station, Atlantic 252, has seen a fall in reach quarter-on-quarter from 2,879,000 to 2,264,000.
As a whole, commercial radio's share rose to 50.1 per cent of all listening, increasing its lead over the BBC by 2.4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.
Figures for the BBC show that Radio 2 has maintained its position as having the highest share of the national stations at 13.2 per cent, giving it a weekly reach of 9 million. Radio 1's reach rose quarter-on-quarter by 240,000 to 11.1 million listeners each week, although its reach is still down year-on-year compared to its 11.8 million listeners in the first quarter of 1997. Despite its controversial programming changes, Radio 4 has seen a slight increase in reach this quarter from 8,068,000 to 8,161,000, although its share of listening remained at 10.4 per cent.
In London, Heart 106.2 knocked Capital Gold into third position, attracting 1.35 million listeners per week. However, Capital FM's hold as London's top station remained firm, with the station recording the highest reach (2,836,000) and share (15.5 per cent) in the capital. Melody Radio -- soon to be bought by Emap, pending a public interest test -- chalked up more than a million listeners for the first time, recording 1,010,000 compared to last quarter's 956,000.