The diaries have been filled in, the entries collated and the results compiled. We’ve been carefully analysing the Q3 2016 RAJAR report to bring you the highlights – keeping you up to date with the latest radio industry audience data.

The good news is that the UK is still in love with radio. 48.2 million adults, or 89.1% of the population, tuned in to radio each week. This is up by approximately 320,000 on the same quarter last year.

The major radio bands are consolidating their positions, growing their audiences and reaching further than ever before, thanks in part to the vast array of platforms that are now available such as analogue, DAB, online and DTV.

Here are some of the main highlights from Q3 2016…

Nationals and Networks

Heart has retained its crown as the largest network, with an increase of nearly 150,000 listeners; however the Capital network is close on its tail having broken the 8million mark in weekly reach – a year on year increase of 8.1%. Although it’s lagging behind in reach at nearly 7 million, Bauer’s City Network boasts much longer average listening hours (8.6 per week) than Heart or Capital and so is competing well with Heart in terms of total listening hours.

Absolute Radio has had an absolutely cracking quarter. The decade stations are steady so the network as a whole has only gained 2% in total hours, however the original Absolute has added nearly half a million listeners so is 22% up quarter on quarter in  total hours.

Kisstory and Kiss Fresh have placed a couple of smackers on this RAJAR with significant gains in total hours compared to the last quarter at 59% and 29% respectively, this has mainly been a result of much longer average hours per listener.

We’ve been keeping a careful eye on Radio X. Global Radio has invested in substantial on-air talent and promotional activity so it’s interesting to see this quarter’s results. It appears that Radio X has built on its audience outside of the analogue broadcast areas (London and Manchester), as reach is up 6% quarter on quarter across the network, but it’s down in London and Manchester. Reach is also up 21% year on year from 1.05million to 1.26million so overall the station is going strong and building audience steadily.

One last thing on the networks; we were fascinated to see that the Gold Network is doing surprisingly well with over 1.1million listeners each week, up 16.3% compared to this time last year.


Everyone’s talking about Digital. It offers brands the chance to expand their networks and provides greater listener choice. With over 85% of new cars being fitted with DAB and more listening via smartphone, digital is becoming increasingly important.

Almost six in ten adults are listening to radio via a digital platform, in terms of weekly reach. Following the launch of the second national DAB commercial network broadcasting 18 national commercial stations earlier this year, digital listening hours to national commercial radio has grown by 25% year-on-year. Overall digital listening to commercial stations is now at 45.9% (up from 41.2% in Q3 2015), ahead of digital listening to BBC stations which is at 44.9% (up from 42.4% in Q3 2015).

Kisstory took the top spot for the first time as most popular digital-only commercial station, delivering a weekly reach of 1.61 million listeners, a growth of 23% year on year, following its national expansion in March this year.


The big story in London is that Capital London is now the largest reaching station with an average weekly reach of just over 2 million. Capital has dipped quarter on quarter in terms of reach but because Kiss has also seen a drop Capital has been able to secure that top spot. This quarter has been an interesting one for Bauer in London. In the last quarter, Kiss London was reaching nearly half a million more listeners each week than Magic. Magic has closed right up to almost a position of parity – both reaching just over 1.8 million each week in the city.

The vote for Brexit and the change of Prime Minister could have helped LBC 97.3 remain the talk of the town in terms of total listening hours. Quarter on quarter the number is down but thanks to its incredible achievement in average hours of 10.6 it still manages 10.5 million total hours. As a comparison it’s worth remembering that most of the music stations in London have average hours of between 4.5 and 6, so this is a stellar performance.

Capital Extra has been delivering…extra, with an increase in total listening hours of 16.8% – an excellent set of figures.

As mentioned earlier, Radio X in London has stayed pretty stable overall with a drop in reach but an increase in average hours keeping the total hours pretty level. As a network, it has seen good solid growth this quarter.

Top 3 stations by Weekly Reach

Capital London – 2,013,000
Kiss 100 – 1,818.000
Magic 105.4 – 1,804,000

Top 3 stations by Total Listening Hours

LBC 97.3 – 10,518,000
Heart London – 9,179,000
Kiss 100 – 9,177,000

The Local Picture … in England

This quarter has shown that listeners across the UK are continuing to back their local stations and choosing to stick with their beloved local brands.

Bauer’s City 1 stations are still very popular with Clyde 1, Radio City, Hallam FM, Metro Radio, Moray Firth, NorthSound 1 and TFM all showing strong growth in total hours in Q3. TFM 2 is the bell of the ball with a further 65% increase in hours compared to the last quarter after its previous stunning performance. Radio City 2 is up 27% in total hours breaking through the one million mark from 933,000 to 1,189,000 total hours.

The Capital Network has capitalised on its place with listeners with an increase in weekly reach for Capital Manchester, Capital Liverpool and Capital Birmingham. Capital Liverpool also saw an impressive increase in total listening hours by 14% compared to the previous quarter.

The Heart Network hasn’t missed a beat with slight increases in both weekly reach and total listening hours, seeing no major losses this quarter. The beat goes on with Heart stations in the south showing an increase in total listening hours for Heart South West and Heart Solent. The audience in Devon, in particular, is listening for significantly longer with a 21% increase of total hours for the Heart North Devon transmitter.

Heart Wiltshire saw a 27% increase in weekly listeners and 41% in total hours and heading up north, Heart Yorkshire also saw an equally impressive increase of 29% in total listening hours.

The Smooth brand has also performed well locally. Highlights include Smooth Radio Cambridgeshire and Smooth Radio Thames Valley, both seeing an impressive surge in weekly reach and total listening hours.

Looking to the North West – listeners in Macclesfield and North Cheshire are really getting behind their local station – Cheshire’s Silk seeing an increase of 62% on the last quarter in terms of total hours from 74,000 to 120,000. A little further up in Manchester City Centre, XS Manchester is rocking out and enjoying an up-lift of 78% in total hours and 42% in weekly listeners. However, Capital Manchester is still the highest reaching station with 498,000 weekly listeners, followed by Key 103 with 356,000 listeners each week.

There is an uprising in Oldham with a 62% increase in total hours for local independent station 96.2 The Revolution from 125,000 to 202,000 compared to last quarter. This station has also seen a 16% increase in reach at 22,000 listeners each week.

Shooting along the M62 to Bradford, Pulse 1 and Pulse 2 keep our hearts racing with another positive result for Q3. Q2 saw Pulse 1 up by 43% in hours and is up a further 3% in Q3, its sister station is the golden child with a 90% increase in total hours and up 13% in reach compared to the last quarter.

Moving down to the Midlands, listeners are rather fond of the 80s vibe from Free Radio 80s in Coventry & Warwickshire. Maybe it’s the return of BROS or maybe it’s due to their love for the one and only Bruce Springsteen, which ever it is Free Radio 80’s (Coventry & Warwickshire) has seen an increase of 90% in total hours from 106,000 to 201,000 and also up 19% in reach.

In the South East the Jack stations in Oxford have refused to go back into their box after a triumphant Q2 and see another positive surge in total hours for their AM and FM stations:
– Jack FM Oxford up 16% in total hours, up 11% in reach.
– Jack 2 Oxford up 24% in total hours, up 28% in reach.

And our whistle-stop tour of local stations ends with one of the top performers. Still flying high from their results in the last quarter, The Breeze Solent has made an impressive 101% jump in total hours from 370,000 to 742,000 quarter on quarter.

… in Northern Ireland

The Q Network has built on its strong figures last quarter, gaining a further 18% in total hours. Unfortunately, the Q brand hasn’t seen the same gains in Belfast this quarter with Q Belfast seeing a marginal increase in reach of 3% and a slight drop in its hours. However, year on year this station’s total hours are up an impressive 24.38%.

Downtown has gone up-town with a pretty good set of results this RAJAR with a 14% growth in listening hours. This solid performance has helped the station increase its total hours by 29.74% year on year.

… in Scotland

Big drum-roll… the award for the standout Scottish station this quarter goes to Moray Firth which has reported an impressive 22% increase in total listening hours. This station has also upped its reach figure by 7% and now 49% of the Inverness population tune in each week.

Over in Aberdeen, listeners have tuned into Northsound One for an average of 10.2 hours per week this quarter, which means the station has managed to boost its total hours by 11%.

Glasgow stalwart, Clyde One is still going strong, cementing its position as the market leading station in the City. This station has seen a 16% rise in hours compared to last quarter. The station now has 14.58% more listeners tuning in each week compared to this time last year.

Capital Scotland has shown a steady set of results when compared to last quarter (up 2% in reach and 1% in hours). But compared to Q3 2015 the station has achieved strong growth with total hours up 14.13% year on year.

… in Wales

The Capital brand is flying the Welsh flag this quarter with both Capital South Wales and Capital North West and Wales posting increases in reach and hours. This is made all the more impressive in light of both stations’ strong results in Q2.

This proud nation loves Nation Radio. It has had a storming set of results – the station is up 19% in reach and a jaw-dropping 53% in hours.

A special mention goes to the newly re-branded Nation Gold (now Dragon Radio). It’s seen massive percentage increases in reach and hours (175% and 913%) – jumping from 4000 to 11,000 listeners.

And finally for our round-up of nations, we can report a solid set of figures for the largest station in Wales, Heart South Wales. This station has managed to boost its already strong reach by 5% and increase its hours by 6% – a very accomplished performance.


Commercial radio is maintaining its strong position in the hearts and minds of the UK population. It’s holding its own against the publicly funded BBC and the investment made by many of the big commercial radio brands will help ensure they continue to reach new audiences via new platforms.

Contact us if you have any questions about how this latest RAJAR will affect the current radio advertising and sponsorship opportunities available.

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