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Do the latest Rajar figures suggest radio still rules?

The latest Rajar stats released shows our love of radio is still as strong as ever, and in some areas is growing.

One only has to look at the glowing tributes that were paid to Sir Terry upon his passing to be reminded at the power of a strong broadcaster. And on that note what makes a good broadcaster, someone who links the latest track that’s been pre-programmed, or someone who can have a conversation with the listener – or perhaps it’s the both and more? And when we reference “broadcaster” do we mean the individual or the output channel?

It would be interesting to compare the latest podcast download and listening figures with that of the more traditional listening figures, but what we do know now is that radio is still doing it. The good news is that 48m million adults listen to radio each week; 56% tune in to via DAB, television or online; 26% of adults listen via a mobile phone or tablet at least once per month; and a listener tunes into 21 hours and 4 minutes of live radio per week. More platforms mean more listening opportunities, and more impact for PR.

I heard in passing (not that I’m a regular listener) Heart’s Jamie Theakston thanking listeners for keeping him in a job and his kids in clothes as Heart’s listening figures increased (Heart has won a record amount of listeners, reaching a weekly audience of 9.2 million, its largest posting to date) and whilst said in jest, the truth is for many presenters and producers the numbers are what they are measured on.

For those who havent seen the latest Rajar figures, some of the headlines and those clearly keeping their jobs will be Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Nick Grimshaw who has attracted 200,000 more listeners and now attracts 6.37 million listeners per week aged 10+. Sir Terry’s old broadcaster BBC Radio 2 had the biggest weekly reach for any UK radio station with 15.47 million listeners, up from 15.38 million the previous quarter with Chris Evans Breakfast Show attracting 9.44 million listeners per week.

BBC Radio 4’s The Today programme has 7.03 million listeners each week, up from 6.76m last quarter and the introduction of Nick Robinson to the presenting line-up last year proving popular. BBC Radio 6 Music is the most listened-to digital-only station in the UK. The station had 2.2 million listeners a week from October to December, having had 2.19 million the previous quarter. BBC World Service posted a weekly UK audience of 1.51 million.

With many eyes (and ears) on Radio X, the corks should be popping or pints flowing as it gains 10,000 listeners in London since rebranding from XFM. The much-hyped return of Chris Moyles to radio provided a 39% boost in listeners and gave Radio X its best breakfast show figures in London in almost a decade.

LBC, which used to be known as the Cabbies’ favourite, also posted an average of 695,000 listeners.

A medium so powerful and popular with audiences is surely good news for PROs. Whilst I declare a vested interested in radio, I actually have a vested interest in all broadcast, including video. My challenge to the PR industry therefore, is with the huge demand for video, how many videos do we as an industry produce that can compete with the audience-reach of say a Gem or Lincs FM, both of which you may not have heard of, but still deliver audiences in excess of 500,000? So whilst video hasn’t killed the radio star, is it having a negative effect on PR?

Article written by Howard Kosky, founder of broadcast agency markettiers4dc

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