Radio 3 has seen its audience fall below 6 Music for the first time ever.
The classical music station's audience dropped by 120,000 weekly listeners to 1.88 million, according to the latest Rajar figures for the second quarter of 2014 which have been published today. This pushes it below 6 Music which recorded a listenership of 1.87m between April and June, 10,000 more than Radio 3.
Specialist music station 6 Music – which launched in 2002 and had been lined up for closure by the BBC – has seen its audience triple since a successful campaign was launched to prevent its demise in 2010.
Under the latest set of figures, key presenters saw their audiences increase with Shaun Keaveny (823,000), Steve Lamacq (882,000) and Liz Kershaw (239,000) achieving record audiences.
There was also good news for Radio 2 breakfast host Chris Evans who has hit a new audience high, with 9.91 million listeners a week for his morning show. This gives it the biggest audience for a radio programme since the current Rajar measurement system was launched in 1999.
The Radio 2 man now gets 4 million more listeners a week than his Radio 1 breakfast rival Nick Grimshaw, whose audience improved slightly with 5.97 million – up from 5.89 million this time last year.
Evans' figures also mean that his audience has increased by almost two million listeners since his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan bid an emotional farewell to the station with 8.1 million listeners in 2009. As a whole, Radio 2 now has 15.5 million listeners, up slightly from the 15.44 million a year ago.
Radio 3, whose controller Roger Wright has just departed for a new job at the Aldeburgh Music Festival after 16 years in charge, issued a statement which read: “Since Rajar records began, BBC Radio 3 has retained its audience whilst traditionally fluctuating around the 2 million mark – we’re pleased to bring so many people to our distinctive blend of Classical, Jazz, World and Cultural programming which is a model of public service broadcasting.”
BBC Music director Bob Shennan said: “I’m delighted that Radio 6 Music continues to perform well in the digital space, and that Shaun Keaveny [pictured above] and Steve Lamacq are reaching record audiences.”
Helen Boaden, the director of BBC Radio, said of Evans: “Chris is a brilliant presenter and a unique talent.
“The Radio 2 breakfast show is unlike anything else on radio, with great music, news, sports updates and Pause for Thought alongside features like the 500 Words children’s writing competition, and shows that utterly distinctive, high-quality programmes can also attract large audiences.”