Humphrys closes in on Moyles

Posted on February 4, 2012

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written by Rob Pollard for New Statesman 

Increase in listeners for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

According to the latest batch of audience figures released by Rajar, the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 has had a surge in listeners.

The influential news programme presented by John Humphrys now commands an audience close to its highest ever, with an average weekly listenership of 7.15m. It is also just 90,000 listeners less than Chris Moyles gets on his Radio 1 breakfast show.

The increase in Today’s popularity has been attributed to growing concerns of the UK economy, with listeners’ fears of another recession cited as an important factor.

There was also excellent news for BBC 6 Music, a station threatened with closure in 2010 before an online campaign saved the station. On the eve of its 10th birthday, 1.5m listeners tuned in, an impressive number for a digital station dedicated to alternative music. 6 Music has seen its listenership double since the threat to axe it from the BBC’s portfolio, something which has turned out to be one of the most effective marketing campaigns in recent memory.

5 Live saw the largest decrease in listeners, with a weekly audience of 6.23m, almost 1m less than they commanded during the same period in 2010.

Radio 2 is still, by some distance, the most popular radio station in the UK, with an average weekly reach of 14.27m. The Chris Evans breakfast show commands 8.86m listeners, making it the most popular radio show in the country.

The importance of the Rajar audience figures is evermore significant in light of the BBC’s decision to reduce its radio spend. Proposals to remove £15m from the local radio budget have been touted, with 280 jobs set to be lost if the plans go ahead. Local radio figures did increase by 45,000 compared to the previous quarter but this figure is still less than in 2010.

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Posted in: Music