In Depth

Radio nation: 90% of Brits still tune in every week

And commercial radio attracts more listeners than the BBC for the first time ever

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Despite the popularity of podcasts, music streaming services and digital downloads, 90 per cent of adults in the UK still listen to the radio every week.

That's one of the surprising takeaways from the latest report from Radio Joint Audience Research, (Rajar) the body responsible for monitoring station audiences. Their survey, conducted in conjunction with the polling company Ipsos Mori and market researcher RSMB, investigated the listening habits of UK residents aged 15 and over during the second quarter of 2017.

The quantity of radio consumed by UK audiences is also encouraging for fans of the medium - the average listener takes in 21 hours of live radio broadcasting per week.

Technology has had some impact, however - nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they used digital platforms such as phone apps, webstreams or DAB radio sets to tune in, while 44 per cent of those aged 15-24 used social media to follow their favourite presenters or stations.

When it comes to the most popular station, BBC Radio 2 remains untouched as the nation's number one, although its audience dipped below the 15 million mark for the first time since 2013. Radio 4 and Radio 1 come next, with 11.55 million and 9.59 million listeners respectively.

Days after his astronomical salary became public knowledge, Chris Evans was once again crowned king of the breakfast shows, drawing in an average of 9 million listeners every morning for BBC Radio 2 - although this does represent a 400,000 drop from this time last year.

Radio 4's Today programme has increased its audience by more than 300,000 since last year to grab the number two spot, with 7.65 million people regularly tuning in.

BBC Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw came in third place with just under 5.5 million listeners, while Kiss FM was the only commercial radio station to break the 2 million listener threshold for its breakfast programme.

Nonetheless, it was a good quarter for commercial radio - 35.8 million people said they listened to stations such as Smooth, Kiss and Absolute, outstripping total BBC listenership for the first time.

The Heart brand now reaches 9.557m listeners a week, putting it just below Radio 1 in terms of popularity, followed by London station Capital and Classic FM.

BBC director of radio and music Bob Shennan said the new figures were "fantastic news for radio", and proof of the medium's "enduring appeal in a crowded digital marketplace".

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