Thursday 4 February 2010, 11:51
It's RAJAR day. It happens four times a year. We get figures for the previous quarter's listening - in this case Oct- Dec 2009. And although not quite as vertiginous as the previous quarter - the figures are pretty decent. The headlines are that 9.84 million of you listen to at least 15 minutes a week - and you listen on average to 12 hours 34 minutes - which is up from the previous lot of RAJARs - and more than any other station. Radio 4's share of the total radio market is 12.5% - which is also up. And we have slightly more listeners than at this stage last year. So all in all we're happy enough.
What causes change in listening figures ? In television it's easy to track. There are overnight figures for every programme and you can predict what sort of programme will get a huge audience (Strictly, X Factor) and what will harvest fewer viewers. There are no overnight figures for radio, and in the case of Radio 4, there is quite a lot of stability in listening patterns. We know that almost all that we do at 0900, say, will get an audience hovering around the 2 million mark - or that the Afternoon Play will get about 800,000. We would have to do something violent to change that hugely.
But over a period of time I hope that the quality of the programmes and some changes here and there persuade more people to try Radio 4 - or to stay with Radio 4 longer. Our success is for you to judge.
Sometimes - but rarely - a big event influences listening. Thus 9/11 and the Iraq war in 2003 both boosted the RAJARs - with programmes like Today, The World at One, PM and The World Tonight attracting a larger audience wanting the depth and analysis we hope we provide.
It is possible that the recession has had an impact on our figures. It's not easy, though, to isolate the effect.
And as I always say - RAJARs are relevant. Quality and range matter more.
Mark Damazer is Controller of BBC Radio 4
Join the discussion...
Thursday 28 January 2010, 16:00
Monday 8 February 2010, 15:05