Entertainment & Arts

Chris Evans enjoys record audience on BBC Radio 2

Chris Evans
Chris Evans presents the nation's most popular breakfast radio show

BBC Radio 2 breakfast presenter Chris Evans pulled in a record weekly audience over the last three months, according to new figures.

The broadcaster, who has hosted early mornings for four years, pulled in 9.85m listeners - compared to 9.35m during the previous quarter.

His Radio 1 counterpart Nick Grimshaw added 700,000 to his weekly audience, after suffering declining ratings.

Rajar's latest research reveals radio listening is at a 15-year high.

It says that 91% of the population aged over 15 listen to the radio each week, the highest level since records began in 1999.

"At a time when we've just become the first radio station in the world to reach one million subscribers on YouTube, we're delighted to be reaching 42% of all 15 to 24-year-olds," said Ben Cooper, controller of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.

The BBC's principal networks - Radios 1, 2 and 4 - all saw their audiences rise in the last three months, with Radio 2 substantially ahead with 15.5 million listeners each week.

But classical network Radio 3 saw its listenership dip to below two million.

Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said the station's audience had remained "stable" since Rajar figures first began, adding that it was "good to see our Breakfast audience build on last quarter's figure".

Radio 4 extended its reach to just over 11 million weekly listeners, while Today, its flagship early morning current affairs programme, edged beyond the seven million mark.

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams hailed the station's "distinctive and rich mix of programming which appeals to our discerning listeners and attracts extraordinary talent to our airwaves".

Digital-only broadcaster 6 Music saw its audience come close to two million listeners each week, a record high for a station that was saved from the axe in 2010.

BBC Asian Network, another digital-only offering, also attracted a high of 668,000 weekly listeners, up from 555,000 last quarter.

Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Asian Network, called the results "outstanding".

"Congratulations to Chris Evans and his team who have built a phenomenal foundation for the rest of the Radio 2 daytime team, all of whom have broken previous best records," said Shennan.

"Graham Norton's reach of 4m for a single weekly programme is nothing short of astonishing and testament to his enduring appeal and personality," he added.

In the last three months of 2013, ownership of digital radios climbed to more than 45% of all adults. A decade ago, the figure was 5.3%.

The number of listeners who tune into radio via their mobile phones has also climbed to nearly 25%, which rises to 45% for young listeners in their teens and early twenties.

"Britain's love affair with radio shows no signs of cooling," said Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of radio.

"We are a nation of audiophiles and so, despite the ever-increasing competition for people's time and the growing range of online audio providers, radio is thriving in the digital age."

She also applauded the "enduring popularity" of the BBC's portfolio of stations.

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