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February 3, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:00am

RAJAR: Times Radio audience falls by a fifth as Talkradio and LBC growth continues

By Aisha Majid

Times Radio’s audience fell by over a fifth quarter-on-quarter, according to the latest RAJAR radio listening figures.

The national digital station, which is owned by News UK’s radio division Wireless, reached a weekly audience of 502,000 people in the final quarter of 2021 in its second set of RAJAR results – a quarter-on quarter fall of 21%.

Fewer people (255,000) also tuned in for the station’s breakfast show hosted by Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell (pictured), compared to the three months to September (273,000 listeners).

However News UK argued Times Radio had grown its average weekly listening time from 5.5 hours per week per person to 6.2 hours, which it said demonstrated loyalty. It also said its own internal connected listening data, which includes online, apps and smart speakers, showed growth on the previous quarter.

Times Radio, which launched in June 2020 as an alternative to Radio 4 and LBC, continues to attract high-profile names. It recently appointed former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson who is set to take over Giles Coren’s Friday afternoon show on 18 February.

She will join fellow former Tory MP Michael Portillo and arts journalist Mariella Frostrup who also present Times Radio shows. The station's political chief political commentator Tom Newton Dunn is about to move to News UK's upcoming TalkTV to host a primetime evening show.

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The Murdoch-owned station’s RAJAR decline came in the context of an unchanged overall radio audience size compared to Q3 (49.5m people).

Fellow Wireless station Talkradio fared better, continuing its pattern of growth to rise by 20% on the previous quarter from 450,000 weekly listeners to 542,000.

News UK said: "The home of common sense continues to attract audiences across radio, while its polished visualisation is driving more and more people to watch via social channels including Youtube and its growing connected TV platforms."

LBC, owned by media and entertainment group Global, beat its own record for the eighth time in a row to reach an all-time high of 3.2m weekly listeners in Q4. The commercial talk station, which has signed up former BBC journalist Andrew Marr (who is also set to join the New Statesman), recorded 151,000 more listeners in the latest quarter.

The brand’s dedicated news channel LBC News, which presents 24-hour news updates, also grew listener numbers, reaching 882,000 people weekly (up 2% quarter-on-quarter).

Ashley Tabor-King, Global's executive president, said: “With RAJAR now fully back with enhanced measurement, I’m delighted this has translated into record audiences for our brands and shows.

"It’s a great privilege to know that millions are turning to us for news and analysis, feel good entertainment, hit music, relaxation, whatever it may be, and it’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly."

LBC’s breakfast show with Nick Ferrari however saw a drop in audience, reaching 1.3m people compared to 1.4m in Q4.

The latest RAJAR results present listening data for the quarter from 20 September to 19 December 2021. It is the second data release since the radio listening survey was reinstated after being suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Due to the suspension, year-on-year comparisons are not available.

While the BBC maintained its position as the number one radio broadcaster in the UK and reached over six in ten people aged over 15 in the UK, Radio 4 saw a small quarter-on-quarter drop in listeners. The BBC talk radio station reached 10.5m people in the three months to 19 December - slightly fewer than the 10.8m people who tuned in each week in Q3.

Some 6.6m people tuned in for Radio 4's flagship Today programme, Monday to Saturday - slightly more than in the third quarter (6.5m).

The BBC World Service was listened to by 1.24m people, while BBC Nations radio and Local BBC Radio in England had a combined audience of 9.04m.

BBC Radio 5 Live reached 6.3m people while Wireless' Talksport reached 3.1m people - a 4% increase quarter-on-quarter.

From Q3 2021, RAJAR adopted a new approach that relies on a broader group of data sources and includes panellist and MediaCell technology for the first time, alongside face-to-face interviewing.

Previous RAJAR stories:

Picture: Times Radio/Youtube

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