Moyles poised to steal Wogan's radio crown

Controversial DJ close to overtaking rival's listener figures

He has offended countless sensibilities with his no-holds-barred irreverence on air, incurred the wrath of media watchdog Ofcom by mocking a gay pop star (amongst other things) and vented his spleen against tabloid reporters.

But none of this has tarnished the rise and rise of the plain-speaking BBC Radio 1 breakfast presenter, Chris Moyles. Yesterday, the latest radio audience figures revealed that Moyles' show has nearly surpassed the milder-mannered king of the breakfast radio slot, Sir Terry Wogan.

Moyles himself appeared on the This Morning breakfast TV show and confirmed that his contract had been extended for what is understood to be at least another year from July. "All my listeners will be watching now! We found out yesterday that the listening figures have gone up, which is funny because two weeks ago I was losing my job, and now I'm as popular as Wogan!" he said.

The Chris Moyles Show now has 7.7 million listeners, an increase from 7.3 million in the last quarter, the radio body, Rajar, showed. Wake up to Wogan has 7.78 million listeners tuning in each week, a surprising drop from 7.96 million last quarter and 8.1 million last year.

Moyles, the recipient of three Sony Radio Awards who took over the flagship slot in January 2004, caused a stir only last month when a flurry of rumours suggested he was on the verge of being axed from the breakfast show slot.

Those reports were strongly denied on air last month by the presenter himself. Yesterday, a Radio 1 spokeswoman said there was no question of Moyles' departure.

Rajar figures also showed that radio listening generally reached an "all time high" of nearly 46 million listeners per week, which equals 90 per cent of the country's population aged 15 and over tuning in. This means listening is at a higher level than any time in the past 10 years.

A third listened via digital radio, the internet or digital television, and the number using mobile phones rose 13 per cent. BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live both saw audiences grow and BBC Radio 2 remained the UK's most popular station.

BBC Radio 4 drew its largest audience since 2003 – 9.98 million – in the first quarter of the year. Its flagship news programme, Today, whose surge in popularity has been linked with its coverage of the economic crisis, now has 6.6 million listeners – up again from 6.4 million last year and 6.6 million last quarter. Radio 1 now draws 11 million listeners per week, up from 10.5 million in the last quarter. Among BBC digital-only networks, BBC 6 Music enjoyed a seventh consecutive record audience and BBC Radio 7's audience edged towards a million with a record 984,000 listeners.

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