Stressed-out listeners turn to classical

Radio audiences are turning to the soothing properties of classical music as a means of coping with the traumas brought on by the economic downturn, gloomy weather and summer exams, according to official listening statistics released yesterday.

The national commercial station Classic FM and BBC Radio 3 have both apparently benefited from the desire of audiences to find some respite from the pressures associated with the recession. Classic, which is part of the national Global radio group, increased its listenership by 303,000 over the past three months, according to figures from the industry body Rajar.

Radio 3, which was recently named Station of the Year at the Sony awards, the radio industry Oscars, increased its reach to more than two million, giving the network its biggest audience in two years. During this period, Radio 3 showcased the work of Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn, three of its designated composers of the year.

Classic FM has grown to a weekly reach of 6.14 million, including children. The station is popular with students and schoolchildren at examination time and it saw the number of under-18s tuning in rise to 573,000 per week during the quarter, an increase of 70 per cent. "The exciting increase in the number of children tuning in shows that we're helping to grow a brand new generation of classical music listeners," said Darren Henley, the station's managing director.

Among the most successful of its presenters is Myleene Klass, whose breakfast show audience has increased by 100,000 over the past three months to almost one million.