Rajar figures: Radio news listeners fall but boost for music shows

Image caption,
Mishal Husain of Radio 4's Today and Nicky Campbell from 5 Live Breakfast

BBC Radio 4's Today programme and 5 Live Breakfast lost listeners this spring, industry figures show.

Today's audience dropped by 839,000 year-on-year, while 5 Live Breakfast was down 337,000, according to Rajar, which monitors UK radio listening.

The BBC said a quieter news agenda in the second quarter of this year was partly to blame.

Last spring saw a snap general election, the Grenfell Tower fire and three terrorist attacks in the UK.

The BBC said: "There were record figures (7.82 million) last year as the nation turned to Today during significant news events.

"Audience figures fluctuate for news programmes across TV and radio in line with news events and the latest Today figures show a sustained loyal listenership and an overall increase since 2014."

While news and speech programmes may have recorded a loss, many music and entertainment shows went up.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Rickie (left), Charlie (centre) and Melvin (right) present the Kiss breakfast show

Compared with spring 2017, Absolute's breakfast show - presented until recently by Christian O'Connell - added 306,000 listeners, while Kiss Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie went up by 42,000.

Capital saw listener figures fall compared to last year, with Roman Kemp's breakfast show losing 53,000 listeners, but the show was up on the quarter and held its title as the most listened to breakfast radio show in London.

Away from breakfast, LBC attracted 2.1 million listeners across the UK, an increase of 62,000 listeners on the same period last year.

Capital Xtra, the urban music station which rebranded from Choice FM in 2013, recorded its highest ever audience of 1.8 million.

Other specialist music stations to record an annual increase included Radio X, which went up to 1.7 million weekly listeners.

BBC specialist stations also recorded healthy figures, including R&B and hip hop station BBC Radio 1Xtra, which reached 1.03 million listeners - up on both the year and the quarter.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Roman Kemp presents the Capital breakfast show

The BBC's Asian Network recorded 672,000 listeners - also up on both the year and the quarter - while BBC 6Music reached 2.4 million - a drop on the previous quarter but an increase year-on-year.

BBC Radio 1 recorded its highest ever audience across digital platforms, but the station was down overall on both the quarter and the year - reaching 9.24 million weekly listeners.

Controller Ben Cooper said: "At a time of huge change for Radio 1, I'm delighted to see us bringing in 10 million weekly listeners, 10 million social followers, and a record 16 million weekly viewers of our YouTube content."

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