Moyles threatens to depose Wogan as king of the airwaves

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The Independent Online

The relentless march of BBC Radio 1's most celebrated loudmouth, Chris Moyles, towards the title of breakfast show king continued yesterday as the DJ posted a record-breaking audience of 7.31 million listeners.

Moyles' Radio 1 show is swiftly eating up what remains of his BBC rival Terry Wogan's slim lead in listener numbers, which is now down to less than 500,000.

According to the latest figures for the fourth quarter of last year, published yesterday by the industry body Rajar, the audience for Wogan's BBC Radio 2 show has slipped to 7.73 million, the narrowest lead it has ever held over its main rival. Moyles' show has added 490,000 listeners year on year, whereas Wogan has lost 250,000. Moyles' show has recently been extended by half an hour, and now runs from 6.30am to 10am. Wogan's show runs for only two hours, from 7.30am to 9.30am.

The latest figures show BBC Radio's resilience in the face of growing commercial pressure. The corporation's overall share of radio audience was 55.4 per cent, up marginally from 54.4 per cent in the previous quarter. Total BBC listener numbers were recorded at 33.14 million, up from 32.81 million the year before.

With commercial radio's share falling for the third successive quarter, to 42.4 per cent, the BBC's lead of 13 per cent over commercial radio, up from 11.1 per cent in the previous quarter, is the second highest ever. Commercial radio audiences fell overall to 30.72m, down from 31.35m a year ago. Though it is the most popular radio station in the country, Radio 2 lost nearly half a million listeners over a year, down to 12.82 million from 13.27 million at the end of 2006.