Radio listening slumped to an all-time low during the third quarter
of this year, according to the latest Rajar figures.
However, speech radio enjoyed a surge in popularity as listeners tuned
in in the wake of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on 31 August,
an event that also partly explains the overall drop in listeners. As the
coverage continued in the weeks following the incident, many people
turned to television for information and deserted the radio stations
which were, in many cases, playing music entirely outside their
Among speech services, London News Radio’s two stations performed well
locally. News Direct’s reach leaped 22 per cent from the last quarter to
406,000, and its total listening hours rose by 54 per cent in the same
period, from 963,000 to 1,483,000. Talk Radio also turned in an increase
in hours and reach nationally, while in London it achieved a 42 per cent
rise in share year on year.
The gap between commercial radio and the BBC closed slightly, with
commercial radio 2.5 per cent ahead, compared with 2.6 per cent last
The beleaguered Radio 1 continued to decline in reach but it showed a
healthy increase in all other areas. Its share climbed slightly from 9.7
per cent to 10.1 per cent quarter on quarter. Capital - which some
pundits believe is suffering from the Monopolies and Mergers
Commission’s enquiry into its proposed takeover of Virgin Radio - saw a
decline in reach, hours and share.
Justin Sampson, director of operations at the Radio Advertising Bureau,
said he was delighted commercial radio had maintained ’a healthy lead’
over the BBC.