One way of establishing which station is at the top of the UK broadcasting tree is to take a look at the quarterly Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) figures. These offer a snapshot of who’s listening to what and which station pulls in the most listeners. While doing so, remember that popularity isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality or innovation.
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BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 pulled in 15.3 million listeners every week in the three months to March 2013, maintaining its position as the most-listened-to radio station in the country. The station grew its audience 4.9 percent year-on-year thanks to a mix of ex-Radio 1 DJs, such as Jo Whiley, Dave Peace and Mark Radcliffe and long-time station favourites including Ken Bruce and Johnnie Walker.
BBC Radio 4
Radio 4 achieved a weekly audience of 10.8 million listeners in the first quarter of 2013 -- an increase of 4.4 percent year-on-year. The station’s flagship Today programme saw its audience rise from 6.7 million the previous year to 6.9 million.
BBC Radio 1
As a consequence of its bid to drag down the average age of its audience, Radio 1 lost close to one million listeners over the 12 months to March 2013. It came in third in the 2013 Q1 RAJARs, with a total weekly reach of 10.3 million. The listener fall was partly down to the replacement of Chris Moyles with Nick Grimshaw on the station’s Breakfast Show. Despite the overall listener decline, Radio 1 grew its share of 15- to 24-year-olds to 29.2 percent, the since 2010.
Global Radio-owned station Heart pulled in an average of 7.2 million listeners a week at the beginning of 2013, making it the fourth most-listened-to station in the land, and the top commercial radio broadcaster. The station claims its typical listener tunes in for an average of 6.9 hours each week.
Capital FM, another Global Radio concern, came in fifth with an average listenership of 6.9 million a week in the first three months of 2013. Capital claimed the most listeners overall in London over the sample period, but Magic led in London on share.
The remainder of the top ten most-listened-to radio stations in the UK over the first quarter of 2013 were made up of BBC Radio 5, which pulled in a typical weekly audience of 6.4 million; Classic FM with 5.6 million listeners; Kiss on 4.1 million; and Smooth and Magic, with 3.6 million and 3.5 million listeners respectively.
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