My comment on the latest radio listening figures – RAJAR Q4 2012

This quarter’s RAJAR results have been a mixed bag as we see losses on some stations, but big gains on others. In London the top five stations all dropped down quarter on quarter, whilst Choice FM, Smooth and XFM all showed really positive increases. In particular, XFM increased their reach almost 20% to deliver 445,000 weekly adults – and with a whole host of new names, including Jon Holmes taking over the Breakfast Show, there is a real positive buzz around the station.

After flat figures last time around, digital radio listening has fared better this quarter, with 33% of all radio listening now via a digital platform. These figures have been helped by strong performances from a number of stations on digital radio including Jazz FM, who delivered their highest ever hours of 3 million. The BBC’s digital only station, 6 Music, added 1.9 million to the digital listening figures. Bauer’s Heat Radio also helped, by increasing their reach 18% year on year to 767,000, whilst the Absolute Radio and Smooth Radio networks delivered 76% and 45% (respectively) of all their listening via digital platforms.

And I have to say a big well done to Absolute Radio who have improved results across both their main station and the network as a whole, helping them achieve an impressive 11-year high of 3.3 million listeners. It’s not easy to pin down the exact reason for the improvement from a programming point of view but listening figures for the Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show have massively improved, whilst their decade stations Absolute Radio 80s, 90s and 00s have also shown year on year improvements. With a potential sale on the horizon, these figures could well increase Absolute’s value.

Here’s a final thought for you: Global Radio’s purchase of Real and Smooth Ltd looks all set to go through later on in the year. When it does, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Real Radio stations rebranded into the Heart network. If that were to happen we could be looking at a reach of almost 10 million weekly listeners!

If you’d like to read my full report on this quarter’s RAJAR it’s available here on the RadioWorks website. And I even got a little bit in MediaWeek / Brand Republic.

Thanks for reading

Simon

Simon Pearce is Head of Insight at radio advertising specialists RadioWorks and Maple Street Studios

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New Year, New Voices on my Radio

It’s the start of a new year and while listening to the radio in London I’ve heard a whole raft of new voices, so I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of a few of them…

Emma Bunton is ‘spicing up’ (please forgive me for that) the Heart London breakfast show alongside Jamie Theakston and after listening in on a few occasions I can report that she is fitting in really well. It’s clear that Emma and Jamie have known each other for a while and there’s good chemistry there. Importantly, Emma doesn’t sound like a pop star who is giving radio a go – unsurprising really as she already has a couple of years of experience from her weekend show. Personally I think getting Emma on board is a great thing for Commercial Radio; she’s a massive name in the world of entertainment and I’m sure advertisers will be clambering to get involved.

XFM have parted company with Danny Wallace and handed the reins of their breakfast show over to Jon Holmes. His name may not be that familiar to some of you, but when I mention he has eight Sony-Awards, two BAFTA’s and three British Comedy awards to his name – as well as co-writing credits on Horrible Histories and Dead Ringers – you’ll probably agree he’s worth trying out. Add in to the mix that he’s also been sacked a couple of times in his career for taking things too far, and it could make for an interesting listening experience!

Also over at XFM, comedian Josh Widdicombe (off TV shows like Mock the Week and 8 out of 10 Cats) started this Saturday 19th January and is on air from 10am-1pm.

If you’ve not heard already, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is bravely/stupidly (delete as appropriate) facing questions from the public on LBC every Thursday morning from 9-9.30am. In The Guardian last week (Thursday 17th January) Steve Bell summed it up like this…

Steve Bell's If ... 17.01.2013

(If you’d like to read more about Clegg on LBC see the RadioWorks news stories)

And finally, a reminder that the next radio listening data results (RAJAR) are being released on Thursday 31st January. RadioWorks will be giving you a full update on the radio marketplace along with any trends or changes that you need to be aware of.

Simon

Simon Pearce is Head of Insight at radio advertising specialists RadioWorks and Maple Street Studios