Radio 4 discovers its `lost' audience found

RADIO 4 has seen its audience leap an extra 1.5m listeners a week thanks to a more accurate type of listener research.

Rajar, the radio industry's audience measurement system, has been overhauled and the key beneficiary is Radio 4, a network badly buffeted by fluctuating audiences last year when its schedule was re-launched. The station's weekly audience has risen from just under 8 million a week at the end of 1998 to 9.5 million in the first three months of this year.

Under the new measurement system listeners no longer fill in diaries for a whole household's listening. Instead they keep diaries of just their own habits. It is thought that listeners of Radio 4 and other big stations, including Classic FM and Virgin, were being "lost" under the old measurement system because they were tuning in together.

The new study also shows that Radio 4's Today programme, which has been criticised since it became longer in April last year, has captured the biggest share of morning listeners. The new figures put Today's share of the morning audience at 15 per cent, which is one percentage point above the 14 per cent who tune into Terry Wogan on Radio 2. Zoe Ball on Radio 1 has 9.8 per cent of the morning audience.

Today is also the biggest breakfast show in pure listener numbers: over 6 million people tune in every week, compared with 5.5 million for Terry Wogan and for Zoe Ball on Radio 1. Chris Evans' Virgin Radio show, which is weak across the country but strong in London, gets 2.7 million listeners in the mornings, up 380,000 on the previous period. Radio 5 Live's breakfast show, which won the Sony breakfast show award this year, gets 2 million listeners. In all, the BBC takes 44 per cent of the nation's listeners in the morning.

Every part of Radio 4's schedule has done well in the research, but the afternoon dramas are particularly healthy. Over 2 million people tune in to some dramas - a higher figure than the television audience for many of the dramas on BBC 2 and Channel 4.

John Peel's multi-award winning Home Truths programme on Saturday mornings has doubled its audience to 1.9 million in under a year and takes a 12 per cent share of the radio audience on Saturday mornings.

Jenny Abramski, the BBC's director of radio, said yesterday that she was unable to compare listening figures from the period before the methodology changed, but she said the new system showed the strength of radio. "I am pleased that the new methodology has confirmed what we've always believed - that radio listening is extremely healthy in this country and is essential to people's lives. Over 89 per cent of the population listens each week, a total of 46.2 million people, and I am delighted that the BBC accounts for half of that success."

Commercial channels that did well in the new survey include Classic FM, which increased its weekly audience to 6 million from 5.1 million, and Virgin, which had its highest number of listeners with 4.6 million tuning in a week.

The Listeners

Weekly Audience Breakfast Show

Radio 1 10.8m 5.5m

Radio 2 9.7m 5.5m

Radio 4 9.5m 6.2m

Classic FM 6m 2.9m

Radio 5 Live 5.8m 2m

Virgin Radio 4.6m 2.7m

Capital Radio 2.9m 2m

Talk Radio 2.3m 0.75m

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before