Listeners re-tune dial from revamped Radio 1

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THE POPULARITY of Radio 1 dropped sharply during 1993, with audience losses accelerating as the changes in schedules and presenters, which started on 25 October, began to take effect.

About 2.2 million people stopped listening to Radio 1, Britain's most popular radio channel, as its weekly audience fell to 14.3 million from 16.5 million. Its share of total radio listening fell from 22.4 per cent to 17.1 per cent. This drop, recorded by joint radio audience figures published yesterday by Rajar, was in marked contrast to all the other BBC radio services, which either held their own, or even rose a little.

The biggest gain was recorded by BBC local and regional radio which saw its share of listening jump from 9.5 per cent to 10.9 per cent.

Matthew Bannister, Radio 1 controller, said the drop was expected; that Radio 1 had been declining anyway before he arrived and that, as a publicly-funded channel, it had to be the patron of new music and new talent, and not simply copy the commercial sector. He denied the changes he had made had been too radical or extreme and anticipated audiences would stabilise in 1994.

The research figures show that commercial radio's share of total listening rose above 40 per cent for the first time, achieving 42.8 per cent, compared with 37.8 per cent.

Classic FM saw its weekly audience figures rise to 4.7 million per week, while its share rose to 2.9 per cent from 2.8 per cent. Virgin 1215 recorded a 2.2 per cent share with 3 million listeners per week, while Atlantic 252 dropped to a 3 per cent share (from 3.7 per cent) - about 3.9 million listeners per week. The BBC's share fell to 54.9 per cent from 58.4 per cent, largely because of Radio 1's poor showing.

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