The RAJAR results for Q4 2015 are in and our team of experts have been analysing them so you don’t have to.

The big headline for commercial radio as a whole is that, with its highest ever audience, it now has more listeners than the BBC.

Overall, more people are listening to radio with total reach now at 48.2 million, up from 47.8 million in Q4 2014, and this additional audience is tuning in to commercial stations.

With nearly 400,000 new listeners in this listening survey and now with 18 national stations soon to launch on DAB 2, the future for radio looks bright for commercial radio.

As usual, there are many interesting stories but here are a few key insights from around the network to give you an independent overview of the market.

Nationals and Networks

In general, the larger networks have put in stable performances with Heart maintaining a steady beat to retain the top spot in both reach and hours.

It’s the smaller and newer networks that are showing more radical changes, and much of this is likely due to the continued growth in digital listening.

Following a high profile rebrand and relaunch, Radio X marked its spot on this quarter’s RAJAR with an increased reach of 1.2 million, up 17% on the quarter with an increase in hours of 43% as well.

Looking back seems to be good for brands to move forward, as nostalgic music stations make a strong showing. Absolute 80’s is still the number one digital-only station but Kisstory is closing the gap with a 33% increase year on year. Magic is also casting its spell across the UK with weekly reach now 21% higher than when it launched nationally a year ago.


Capital 95.8 claims the crown for weekly reach with just over 2 million people tuning in each week. However, LBC 97.3 has talked itself into the top spot for total hours, helped by its average listening hours increasing from 9.7 to 10.5.

Magic is on the up gaining 12% in reach and a whopping 34% in total hours putting it in front of Kiss, Heart and Capital in the fight of the big music stations

All eyes were on Radio X leading up to this survey and the results are interesting. Total hours have increased by 24% but the gains have been made in average listening hours rather than in reach. Only a 2% gain in reach this quarter.

Our special recognition award goes to LYCA 1458. Up a massive 125% in total listening hours.

The Local Picture

In Manchester, Capital is still leading the pack in reach and hours but Key 103 may have found the key to regaining some former glory with a 17% increase in total hours whilst maintaining reach. Real XS Manchester has had excellent results, up an impressive 51% in total hours, and 12% in weekly reach.

In the North West, Heart has pumped up its hours by 23%, but Smooth still remains the biggest station for the region, even after a decrease in both reach and hours this quarter.

Both Signal One and Two are showing signs of growth, with Signal 1 up 12% and Signal 2 up 26% in total hours.

In Bradford, Pulse 2 has picked up the pace with total hours up 121% and up 41% in reach. Pulse 1, however, might need some resuscitation as its hours drop by 32%.

There is a switch up in the West Midlands as Smooth grabs 26% in hours and snatches the lead from Heart. Heart however remains the higher reaching station with 689,000 weekly listeners.

The people of Kent have sent a message and are increasingly tuning in to KMFM, taking it up 24% in hours. Heart Kent reports a drop of 13% and Smooth also takes a hit of 9% in hours.

If you do like to live beside the seaside, listeners on the East Coast have given the Beach an 18% increase in total hours and steady reach figures.

The Jack branded stations think outside box and have seen positive results this quarter. Jack FM Oxford especially continues on up in hours (up 11%) after a good performance in Q3.

Around the UK

U105 is the standout winner in Northern Ireland. The station has built on strong figures last quarter with an 18% hike in hours and a 12% growth in reach. This means reach is up 25% year on year.

Q Radio Belfast also performed well in its first full set of RAJAR figures since its re-brand from Citybeat. The station has shown an 11% increase in reach quarter on quarter.

Heart Scotland’s average listening hours have leapt up from 5.4 to 8.0 this quarter, resulting in a 35% increase in total hours. Heart now has higher total listening hours than its central belt rival Capital Scotland, although Capital is still way out in front in reach with 570,000 weekly listeners compared to Heart’s 427,000.

The Clyde brand is going strong in Glasgow with all three stations recording increases in hours.

Scotland’s biggest story, however, is Central FM which has gained 25% in hours quarter on quarter which helped towards a very impressive 64% increase year on year.

Capital North West & Wales is the only big brand station in Wales to make any significant gains with a 15% increase in reach this quarter.


Commercial has more listeners than the BBC for the first time in 15 years and continues to evolve with new brands, new stations launching with marketing support and new technology driving growth. We’ve got all the data, so if you would like to know more about what the latest RAJAR figures mean for you, contact us today.

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