Radio 4 on the rise

Rajar figures show record audiences for BBC Radio 4 – but Chris Evans and Chris Moyles lose listeners

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BBC Radio 4 saw an impressive set of results in the latest report from research agency Rajar. Figures released today show 10.85 million people per week tuned in between April and June 2011, helping the station to its highest ever ratings. 

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The channel’s flagship current affairs show Today also saw an increase in listeners. Its new weekly audience of 7.18 million beats the record of 7.03 million set in the previous quarter, and is up from 6.98 million year on year.

And, in a result that might surprise many RadioTimes.com users, sister channel Radio 4 Extra came out on top as the most popular digital-only radio network. Since its launch on 2 April 2011, the rebranded BBC Radio 7 averaged 1.61 million listeners a week – 500,000 more than its predecessor managed.

Tim Davie, director of BBC Audio and Music, said: “Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra play a unique role in the country’s cultural and news agenda, so I am delighted to see listeners tuning in to them in record numbers.”

BBC Radio 3 and the World Service also notched up increases year on year.

Radio 2 saw overall gains of 240,000 people compared to the same period in 2010. While presenters such as Vanessa Feltz and Zoë Ball added listeners, Chris Evans’s Breakfast Show dipped from an audience of 8.74 million to 8.67 million each week. However, he may not lose too much sleep over that – he is still the most popular breakfast host across the networks.

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Listeners also deserted Chris Moyles, Evans’s opposite number at Radio 1. From 7.72 million last year, figures dropped to 7.52 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 7.44 million per week now. Radio 1’s sister station, 1Xtra, continues to increase its audience figures and now reaches almost one million listeners every week.