Media Lifeline: Heart

Following its acquisition by Global Radio, Heart has become the UK's biggest commercial radio network.

May 2005: When Heart 106.2 had snatched top spot in the London market in 2003, many analysts considered this an anomaly - and it slipped back. It signals its determination to regain the top spot by hiring Jamie Theakston as its breakfast show presenter and Rajar figures for the first quarter of 2005 confirm it has leapfrogged both Magic and Capital to regain market leadership status with 7 per cent of listening in London.

May 2006: It's a three-way battle as Magic 105.4 takes top slot ahead of Heart and Capital in the first quarter. Progress is founded on the success of Neil Fox's breakfast show, which is giving Theakston and Capital's Johnny Vaughan a run for their money.

November 2006: But Rajar figures for the third quarter show that Heart 106.2 is back on top in London once more, with a share of 6.1 per cent. Magic's management are shocked to find they've fallen behind again (they'd been planning to hike ad rates); and Heart's bosses put the station's success down to the fact that it has been running less advertising, giving more time for uninterrupted segments of music.

October 2008: Heart's strategic thinking has been taking on a national dimension following its acquisition by Global Radio from Chrysalis in July 2007. As stations around the country are rebranded and integrated into a Heart network, it becomes a major UK player, taking 5.4 per cent of national listening in figures for the third quarter. But Magic has displaced it from the top slot in London and Capital is also beginning to show strongly again.

May 2009: The Heart Network is now the UK's largest commercial radio network with 7.26 million listeners tuning in each week for an average of 7.9 hours. But it's a success achieved on a relatively modest share performance - 5.9 per cent. And it's still losing the breakfast show battle in London, with Capital's Vaughan-Lisa Snowdon partnership beating the Theakston-Harriet Scott double-act for the third quarter in a row.

Fast forward ...

October 2009: But Global (which also owns Capital) is determined to build Heart into the UK's pre-eminent commercial radio brand, so it swaps breakfast formats. Theakston and Scott get the Capital gig, and Vaughan and Snowdon move to Heart.

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