RAJARs: BBC Radio 4's Today grows audience by 600,000 during election period

RAJARs: BBC Radio 4's Today grows audience by 600,000 during election period

BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs programme Today grew its weekly audience by almost 600,000 people at the end of last year, during a busy news period that brought a rare December general election.

New RAJAR radio audience data shows the Today programme reached 7.17m listeners between 16 September and 15 December 2019, up from 6.6m in the previous quarter and 6.8m over the same period last year.

The three-month period covered the election campaign and ballot, a number of significant votes on Brexit and the beginning of a ministerial boycott of the programme over accusations of political bias.

It also followed the departure of John Humphrys, often dubbed a “Rottweiler” because of his “attack dog” interviewing style, who left the programme on 19 September after 32 years and 5,000 shows.

But the figures are still behind a peak for the programme in April to June 2017 when it reached a record 7.82m listeners.

Listenership also grew at BBC Radio 4 overall, with a weekly reach of 10.98m, up from 10.34m in the previous quarter and 10.48m over the same period in 2018.

BBC 5 Live grew its audience to 5.41m listeners from 4.98m in the last quarter and 4.97m over the same period last year.

James Purnell, director of BBC radio and education, said the BBC’s speech radio stations showed “strong numbers” during the quarter.

He added that there had been 100m on-demand plays of BBC Sounds content, double the previous quarter, demonstrating “the increasing popularity of our radio programmes outside of our linear schedules”.

Global Radio’s LBC reached a record 2.7m weekly listeners over the three-month period, up 513,000 in the past year.

Three of its presenters celebrated their highest audiences so far. Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show reached more than 1.5m listeners each week, up 263,000 in a year, while James O’Brien added 256,000 listeners year-on-year to reach an audience of 1.3m.

Eddie Mair reached 911,000 listeners at the start of his second year since leaving BBC’s PM.

LBC’s commercial competitor Wireless, owned by News UK, said its flagship station, Talkradio, had grown its listeners by 43 per cent year-on-year to 433,000.

Wireless chief executive Scott Taunton said: “Talkradio has been a natural destination for listeners wanting a punchy perspective on the general election. A new Government with a mandate for change should give plenty of opportunity for Talkradio’s continued growth.

“Wireless now reaches more listeners, for more hours, than ever before. Meanwhile, our recently announced plans to launch Times Radio as a national digital station later this year underlines the commitment of News UK and Wireless to continue leading the way in the UK radio sector.”

Weekly listeners for September-December 2019 (RAJAR):

Radio 4 – 10.98m
Radio 5 Live – 5.41m
BBC World Service (UK) – 1.38m
BBC local radio –7.5m
(Radio 2 – 14.44m)

Talkradio –433,000

LBC – 2.7m

Picture: BBC



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2 thoughts on “RAJARs: BBC Radio 4's Today grows audience by 600,000 during election period”

  1. Listening to James O’brien is a waste of time that you will never be able to get back to spend on more important and rational things.

    I find it impossible to listen to his fourth form debating skills, his ranting and his constant tantrums when a caller has the temerity to disagree with him, even when the counter point is more lucidly voiced and well thought out.

    When challenged he invariably resorts to sarcasm; cynicism; and silly voices, all of which are never used by serious and accomplished debaters and which only serve to expose his immature presentation skills.

    This may sound like the rantings of someone who opposes his opinions, but that is not so, in fact I often agree with his opinion but I cannot abide his contemptuous response to those who disagree with him. I despise his arrogant and incorrect assumption that all of his opinions are facts whereas anyone else’s contrary arguments are just poorly thought out and erroneous opinions.

    He is an opinionated boor who can be, and often is, out debated by callers even though they may not have the advantage of his familiarity with the microphone.

    I love LBC, but 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday are now a no go area for me which is a shame as I have to waste time re-tuning.

  2. I agree entirely l find him fatuous and insulting and avoid his program. However as the tories go from strength to strength it’s interesting to hear his pathetic excuses as to why. Perhaps it’s because of people like him… Champagne socialists…?

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