Radio 4’s flaghip current affairs programme Today reached a record 7,655,000 listeners a week in the second quarter of this year according to RAJAR.
This compares to 7,340,000 this time last year, when figures would have been boosted by the referendum on leaving the European Union.
The data, which is based on a survey of radio listeners, suggests that heightened interest in current affairs around the general election and its aftermath may have benefited the programme.
It is only beaten by Chris Evans’ breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 which reached 907,000 listeners in the second half of the year, down from 9,472,000 at the same time a year earlier.
Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show, fronted by Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden, lost listeners year on year with 2,274,000 in the second quarter versus 2,398,000 in the same period a year earlier.
The high numbers help explain why breakfast show presenters are among the best paid staff at the BBC.
Radio 4 Today’s star presenter John Humphrys is paid £600,000-£649,000, according to BBC salary disclosures.
His colleagues on the show also feature on the high-pay list:
- Nick Robinson: £250,000-£299,999
- Mishal Husain: £200,000-£249,999
- Justin Webb: £150,000-£199,999.Radio 5’s Nicky Campbell was paid £400,000-£449,000 last year by the BBC and Chris Evans was paid £2.2m.
In many cases these salaries also include other TV and radio work for the BBC.
In the commercial sector, Alan Brazil’s breakfast programme on Talksport lost listeners year on year with 1,201,000 in the second quarter, compared with 1,570,000 in the same period a year ago (when it may have been boosted by the Euro 2016 football tournament).
Nick Ferrari on LBC 97.3 saw his audience grow year on year to 906,000 (versus 741,000 a year ago).
Ferrari has been boosted by some high-profile political interviews including a notable encounter in May with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott when she struggled to recall the cost of Labour’s pledge to increase police numbers.