Today is the most important day in a radio station’s calendar, it’s RAJAR day. Getting RAJAR results is like having a quarterly job appraisal with your boss, it is often bad enough but for those in the radio industry it’s a lot worse as their ultimate bosses are the listeners and they give their job performance review in the form of listening figures every quarter.

I spent 8 years in the radio industry in both community and commercial environments, presenting shows for some of the UK’s biggest commercial networks (Bauer & Wireless Group) and I used to dread RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) day, especially when my boss at the time use to deliver the listening figures to me as though he was hosting The X Factor. I never want to hear a long pause……ever…..again.

Here’s a snapshot of how the biggest stations in the UK have increased their reach in Q1 of 2020 and how we are now as a nation listening to radio (data thanks to )

  • Digital listening share has increased to a new record of 58.6% up from 56.4% in the latest RAJAR figures.
  • Digital reach is also at a new record with 36.9 million adults, or 67% of the population, tuning in via a digital platform, up from 36.3m in Q1 2019.
  • Listening via online and apps now accounts for 14% of all listening and nearly a quarter (24%) of digital listening, having grown by 25.4 million hours (or by 23%) year on year. With 32% of adults now claiming to own a smart speaker, online listening in home was for the fourth consecutive quarter the fastest growing platform and location, increasing by 21 million hours (or by 26.6%) year on year.
  • Listening via DAB now accounts for 40% of all listening and 69% of digital listening, while listening via DTV now accounts for 4% of all listening and 8% of digital listening.

Stand-out year on year successes include:

  • BBC 6 Music which hits a record 2.556m listeners
  • LBC which has seen a reach increase of 23.6% – a rise of more than half a million – to a record 2.78m
  • talkRADIO which is up 25% year on year to 424,000
  • talkSPORT2 with a record reach of 489,000
  • Virgin Radio, up 15% year on year to 1.496 – along with Virgin Anthems doubling its audience in a year and Virgin Chilled adding more than a third more listeners.
  • Radio X up 7.3% from 1.538m to 1.651m
  • Classic FM up 3.7% year on year to a reach of 5.484m
  • Gold up 7% to 1.314m
  • Magic Soul up from 288k to 393k
  • Absolute Radio 70s up nearly 20% to 230k
  • Greatest Hits Radio’s 892k reach helping the Hits Radio Brand to a 9% year on year increase in reach to 6.6m

As we continue on lockdown and attempt to gain as much information as possible about our lives, I’m not surprised to see speech based radio stations increasing numbers in large volumes especially as they dissect every government announcement and eagerly anticipate the next ones.

For the PR and comms industry, offering clients the ability to host radio days has been a tried and tested PR tool. It’s a great way of breaking through on the non-commercial stations such as BBC channels. We’ve had some fantastic successes recently with brands like Ristorante & Magnet. Radio is (ironically) a noisy medium so ensuring the right narrative and brand spokesperson is essential to getting clients at the heart of the conversation and clocking up those radio hours.

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