Move over Moyles ... John Humphrys closes in on Radio 1's biggest star

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The Independent Online

They share an abrasive broadcasting style but only one is a Mastermind regular. Now Chris Moyles is in danger of being overtaken in the radio popularity stakes by John Humphrys, according to audience figures.

An increase in the last quarter of 2011 has lifted Humphrys' Radio 4 Today programme to an audience of 7.1 million listeners – just behind Moyles' Radio 1 breakfast show which had an audience of 7.2 million. A busy news agenda of economic crises and the phone-hacking scandal helped the Today programme record a 400,000 increase in listeners, measurement body Rajar said.

The high-brow broadcast may be proving an attractive alternative to the raucous mix of celebrity chat and chart hits pumped out by "Moylsey", right, for younger listeners. Both Moyles and Humphrys have their critics. The laddish Radio 1 DJ, 37, was reprimanded by his bosses for condoning negative stereotypes about homosexuality on air. Critics accuse Humphrys, 68, who also presents the BBC2 Mastermind quiz, of a "rottweiler" interview technique, marked by persistent interruptions of his subjects.

Moyles and Humphrys must also bow to the undisputed king of breakfast radio. Chris Evans has proved a worthy successor to Terry Wogan and his Radio 2 show is now enjoyed by 8.8 million listeners each week.

Moyles has signed a contract which will keep him at the BBC until 2014, the 10th anniversary of his show. Whilst Radio 1 has been told to appeal to more younger, teenage listeners, the average age of his audience has risen to 33.

The BBC said that Moyles actually enjoyed 7.8 million listeners, if the number of those aged 10 and above was included.

Overall, Radio 4's audience increased by 300,000 to 10.8 million, with Radio 1's falling to 11.6 million. Radio 3 also recorded an increase, with Radio 2 the most popular station with 14.2 million listeners.