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RAJAR reports healthy but changing radio landscape

New research shows how listeners feel about developments   

The latest RAJAR report for Q2 (April-June) reveals a successful yet changing radio landscape with 89% of the UK listening to nearly 21 hours of live radio every week. Virgin Radio has had another great quarter with a 19% rise in listeners. Meanwhile, the BBC’s total share of listening has dipped to just under 50%[1]. 

Global broadcast agency, markettierscommissioned research* to build on RAJAR’s report and examine how listeners really feel about radio todayThe research reveals that as the main commercial players, Global and Bauer, rapidly transform the local audio landscape[2]only three in 10 (31%) UK adults are happy[3] 

Across the UK, three in 10 (30%) listeners in the north east view the centralisation of local breakfast shows as negative move – the highest level of dissatisfaction in the country, followed by Scotland (28%) and the east of England (27%)[3]. 

Howard Kosky, CEO and founder of leading global broadcast agency, markettiers, says, “The face of British radio is changingTrust in local BBC reporting remains high and major commercial players, Global and Bauer, have been strengthening their radio offerings, investing heavily in the industry but also making changes that have had mixed receptions from listeners 

Our research shows only three in 10 (31%) listeners are happy with these recent changes to programming andof those unhappy with the changeshalf (51%) dislike listening to presenters who don’t know the local area[3]. 

People take a great deal of pride in their local radio stationScottish listeners are the most likely to view local radio as a source of pride (53%), followed by Northern Irish listeners (53%) and those in the north east of England (51%)[3]. It’s telling that those least likely to see local radio as a source of pride are Londoners (36%). Listeners in the capital are also among the least likely to agree that regional radio is important for their local communityhowever, at nearly half (49%), this is still a relatively high number[3]. 

Kosky agrees with US based, iHeart Media CEO, Bob Pittman. Earlier this year Bob stated that radio’s niche is companionship, it is not simply “TV without pictures”[4]. This stark insight into the true power of audio is echoed by markettiers’ own research that one in 10 (10%) want to hear more conversation on their local radio station[3]. 

There is an industry-wide hope that the changes Global is driving through will lead to innovation in radio,” added Kosky. “Yet as Global and Bauer quietly flunder the radar to become media heavyweights, the balance of power could be tippedIt’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on. Others may try to follow suit but could find they’re too late. Wireless might compete, or we could see a new kid on the block who wants to cross diversify and reverse into radio. Whatever happens, regional radio in the UK will look very different to how it did 20 years ago.