Rajar: BBC Radio 4 nears the 10 million listener mark

BBC Radio 4 has recorded its highest weekly audience in six years – narrowly missing out on returning above the 10 million listener mark for the first time since March 2003.

According to official data from Rajar released this morning, the station has also posted its highest audience share since the current measurement methodology was introduced in 1999, commanding 12.5 per cent of all radio listening in the UK.

Radio 4 added 421,000 listeners in the past year, up from 9.56m in the first quarter of 2008 to 9.98m in the same period this year. This represents a 1.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise and a climb of 4.4 per cent year on year.

The Today programme, which in the last quarter of 2008 posted its best audience levels in seven years, added a further 90,000 listeners in the first three months of this year. Its average weekly audience grew by 4.2 per cent year on year to 6.69m.

Radio 4 remained the most listened-to radio station in London, with 2.73m listeners, up 16.4 per cent on the first quarter of 2008.

Radio 4's results this quarter came as Rajar announced that radio listening had reached an all-time high of 45.8m listeners a week or 90.2 per cent of the UK population.


BBC Radio FiveLive returned above the six million listener mark after a fourth-quarter dip at the end of last year.

Its weekly audience reach, at 6.21m, was up 3.1 per cent year on year and 3.6 per cent on the previous quarter.

But the breakfast show with Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogarty, which was extended by an hour in January, lost 148,000 listeners this quarter, down from 2.56m to 2.41m.

FiveLive's sister station on digital radio, FiveLive Sports Xtra, fell 3.2 per cent on the quarter and 0.9 per cent year on year to 642,000.

There was also an audience drop at FiveLive's commercial rival, TalkSport, which lost almost 100,000 listeners in three months.

The station's average weekly audience of 2.42m in the first quarter of 2009 was down 2.2 per cent year on year and 3.9 per cent on the quarter.

Alan Brazil's breakfast show marginally avoided falling below the 1m listener mark, with an audience of 1,001,000 – down 13 per cent on the first three months of last year.

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