Commercial radio still growing in Rajar audit

Commercial radio is continuing to grow its number of listeners but

this growth has slowed, according to the latest Rajar figures.



An average weekly audience of 32.07 million listened to commercial radio

between July and September, up from 31.14 million year on year. However,

the year-on-year growth of just over 1 per cent is well below the growth

of 2 per cent posted last quarter and, quarter on quarter, commercial

radio reach is down by 1 per cent.



Stations seeing increases in listeners included Classic FM, Heart 106.2

FM, talkSPORT and Jazz FM. Atlantic 252, however, suffered a

year-on-year drop in reach of 21.6 per cent, down to 1.23 million.



Classic FM posted one of the most significant increases in listeners,

adding more than 400,000 to move up to 6.43 million. In the process its

share of total radio listening was up by 1 per cent to 4.3 per cent.

Jazz FM increased its reach by 8 per cent to 963,000. TalkSPORT added

200,000 listeners to gain a total reach of 2.2 million.



In London, the battle for listeners intensified with Heart 106.2 FM and

Emap's Kiss and Magic offering strong challenges to Capital 95.8 FM,

which also increased its reach slightly. Virgin also had a better Rajar

with Steve Penk, who replaced Chris Evans as presenter of the Breakfast

Show earlier this year, adding 300,000 listeners to take his audience to

two million. Evans' audience had slipped to 1.7 million in the weeks

before his departure.



Heart 106.2 FM added more than 250,000 listeners a week to attain its

best ever reach of 1.8 million listeners. Emap Performance's Kiss 100 FM

increased its listenership to 1.54 million, up from 1.51 million last

year, and Magic 105.4 was up from 1.34 million to 1.42 million.



Capital Radio 95.8 FM, Capital's London station, added 100,000 listeners

with a reach of 2.9 million. Chris Tarrant increased his breakfast

audience to close to two million listeners, up year on year by 134,000.

Capital's alternative music station, Xfm, continued its impressive

growth record with an increase year on year of 50,000 listeners to

443,000.



However, the news was not all good for commercial radio as its share of

total listening fell from 46.7 per cent last year to 46.5 per cent in

the third quarter this year. The fall came as BBC channels recorded a

small increase in their share of listening.



The Rajar figures showed that listening hours among children aged four

to 14 grew by 9.6 per cent with commercial radio winning a 72.3 per cent

share in this age group.



Justin Sampson, the managing director of the Radio Advertising Bureau,

said: "The evidence of commercial radio's vibrancy continues to pile up.

The success in growing audiences among the younger age groups is of

particular importance, given the increasing difficulty that advertisers

have in reaching this sector of the population through television."