Why Chris Evans’ move to Virgin Radio adds up

Chris Evans’ announcement this week sent shockwaves through, not only the world of radio and the media, but also through his huge and devoted breakfast audience. Chris and other radio stalwarts before him including Terry Wogan, Chris Moyles and John Peel spent years keeping audiences across the UK and the world tuned in every day. That isn’t a simple feat, presenters need to keep being creative. They need to be a voice that resonates with their listeners and, when they’re as prolific as Chris Evans, become influencers in their own right. 

Presenters have become the voice of a nation, the person listeners turn to for opinion on politics, entertainment and lifestyle. It’s no surprise Virgin have snapped Chris Evans up to present Virgin Radio’s breakfast show. A huge coup that could see significant numbers of Chris’ devoted audience of over nine million make the move with him, giving Virgin a substantial lift to the digital only stations 413,000 weekly listeners. 

It’s been a week of interesting changes on the radio waves - Eddie Mair left his post at Radio 4 to join LBC, a direct competitor for drivetime listeners. Matthew Wright has also joined talkRADIO making the move to radio following his departure from Channel 5 show - The Wright Stuff. This goes to prove that radio is still a magnet for charismatic talent that help drive conversation, audience numbers and news coverage. 

There may be naysayers who disparage the power of radio, especially when reporting on declining listener figures for a handful of stations and shows. However, the latest RAJAR figures revealed 48.8 million adults in the UK are tuning in to an average of more than 20 hours a week. This means radio is reaching as many people as it ever has, which is in stark contrast against the continued demise of the national newspapers. 

You only have to look to BBC Radio One’s Greg James, the newest breakfast show host, to recognise the power and importance radio plays in everyone’s lives. He summed it up perfectly at the start of his new show – “My name is Greg James and I love radio more than anything else in the whole world. It is the best thing. It is there when you're happy, it's there when you're sad. It cheers you up, it makes you laugh, it sums up moments in your life. This is the most famous radio show in the world and it's a privilege to share it with you every morning."

Radio has hugely progressed in line with the digital age and it’s thanks to the continued development of the digital radio offering across DAB and television that listener figures are positive. Shows are branching out with podcasts and spin-offs including highlights and exclusives to keep up with the constant demand for content. They’re also enabling audiences to be part of experiences they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be part of including festivals, concerts and sport. This helps to entice listeners back and gives further opportunity to integrate the platform’s brands into their everyday lives. 

Time will tell how these new moves pan out across BBC Radio One and Two, Virgin, LBC and talkRadio. What I can say is that it’s an incredibly exciting time in radio as stations, presenters and producers continue to be resourceful, adaptable to the modern world and a voice of the people. They will no doubt continue to bring in huge audiences and build devoted communities who stick with them for the long-haul. 

Article written by Howard Kosky, CEO & founder of Markettiers