Radio figures reveal Evans' ratings fell ahead of his sacking by Virgin

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Chris Evans' breakfast show lost 90,000 listeners in the three months before he was sacked from Virgin Radio in June, radio audience figures revealed yesterday.

But despite the loss of about 5 per cent of the morning slot's average weekly audience – cutting his following to 1.6 million – Virgin Radio's listenership between April and June rose by 200,000 or nearly 6 per cent compared with the previous three-months period.

The stations success was echoed across the commercial network as the combined listening figures for the sector exceeded 500 million listening hours a week for the first time. The quarterly figures from a the radio audience research bureau Rajar, shows 92 per cent of the adult population now regularly tunes in for more than 24 hours a week – a record figure.

And there are signs that radio is overtaking television as the medium of choice, partly because of new ways of listening, such as via the internet. For the second time in a year, daily hours for listening to the radio have beaten those for watching television, with an average of 3.48 compared with 3.46.

Radio 2's position as Britain's favourite station has been consolidated, with strong showings by stalwarts including Terry Wogan contributing to a 1.5 million rise in listeners to 11.8 million. Radio 2's success was echoed by a recovery for Radio 1, which added nearly one million listeners, taking it to 11.25 million. Jenny Abramsky, the BBC's director of radio, said: "It's good to see BBC Radio continuing to perform so strongly, but these figures are good news for the whole industry. They show a genuine growth in radio listening."

Classic FM has more than seven million listeners, a 25 per cent increase on the last three years. TalkSport, the only national commercial sports radio station, registered a 10.7 per cent increase in its listeners from last year, to 2.2 million people a week.

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