The Week in Radio: Chris Evans on an all-time high but he's still a turn-off


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The Independent Culture

In the past week I have learned that quite a few people listen to the radio. More than a few actually. It appears that more people listen to the radio than do other basic, everyday things such eat cheese or dye their hair or own a dog.

According to the people at Rajar, who have somehow found a way to apply numbers to this thing that we do in the privacy in our homes/offices/cars (and I'm not going to dwell on exactly how they do this lest I start imagining that I'm in an episode of 24), 91 per cent of the population aged 15 and above listen to the radio. That's 48.38m listeners.

I'm still boggling at these figures. I'm also boggling at the thought that there are still those who don't believe this medium is either a valid or significant art form. Then again, these are probably the same people who spend their downtime pondering Zeno's paradoxes by candlelight and would consider In Our Time as the philosophical equivalent of TOWIE.

Anyway, there were further revelations courtesy of those shady characters at Rajar who have very likely inserted surveillance devices into our light fittings to assess our listening habits.

One was that Nick Grimshaw, the presenter of Radio 1's breakfast show who is famed for shedding listeners in roughly the same quantities that the average cat sheds fur, has in fact gathered 700,000 new pairs of ears in the last quarter. Which means that while he's still not on a par with his bafflingly popular predecessor Chris Moyles, he stands a good chance of matching him in the next year.

Certainly, Grimshaw sounded pretty chipper this Monday morning, his voice exuding the joie de vivre of a man who, having been threatened with the scaffold, had been given a stay of execution.

There was talk of going out and celebrating the new listening figures, though it was decided this would have to wait until he had completed his currently unspecified Sport Relief challenge.

There was also some blathering about next week's Brits and a new feature called "American Authors" where Grimshaw and his sidekicks tried to name a US writer, out of which no one emerged with much credit (after John Steinbeck, Hunter S Thompson and Jonathan Franzen, they drew a blank).

Elsewhere, there was a nice skit featuring recordings of assorted famouses, from Kelly Brook to Simon Cowell, barking at listeners to get up.

After the daily assault of stubble and testosterone that was Moyles, Grimshaw has certainly proved a gentler proposition. He has a sweet, understated manner, a whimsical humour and a clear love of music. He is easy to be around, which is important when it's the crack of dawn. Given the choice between the two, I know who I'd rather wake up with.

On Radio 2, Chris Evans was in a similarly buoyant mood, doubtless cheered by the fact that he was both on a jolly to Sochie and is now drawing a record 9.82m listeners, an improvement of just under half a million from the last count. Add that to his audience on The One Show and he basically owns the BBC.

According to what marketing types would probably call my "consumer profile" – ie I'm a woman, I've been around the block once or twice and I like pop music – this is where I'm supposed to be in the mornings. In reality, I'd rather be anywhere else.Evans has the charm and gab all right but all the shouting, the zany humour, the talking over music while swishing the volume up and down, the honking horns – oh God, the horns – this wasn't for me. Of course, 9.82m other listeners would beg to differ.