BBC 6 Music celebrates tenth birthday with record listeners

Latest figures show an average of 1.44 million weekly listeners tuned in to the once-threatened station

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In February 2010 reports first began to circulate that the BBC Trust was considering closing 6 Music. Now, two years to the month later, the digital alternative music station prepares to celebrate its tenth birthday with the announcement of a record number of listeners.

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An average of 1.44 million people tuned in each week to listen to DJs such as Lauren Laverne (pictured), Shaun Keaveny, Jarvis Cocker, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie and Huey Morgan during the final three month period of 2011, according to figures released today by industry research body Rajar.

The station’s audience was up a quarter compared with the same period in 2010 and has more than doubled since BBC director general Mark Thompson announced plans to axe it in March of that year. 

Following that announcement, a massive online campaign was launched by fans Jon and Tracy Morter, who mobilised 180,000 Facebook users to lobby the BBC Trust and protest against the move, eliciting support from celebrities including Davie Bowie, Lily Allen and the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

In July 2012 the announcement came that the BBC Trust had shelved plans to axe 6 Music, with the campaign described as “the best marketing 6 Music has ever had.”

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Now, as the station celebrates its record figures, there’s more good news for digital radio. Its overall reach extended by 10 per cent year on year, with 23.1 million listeners using a digital device to listen, while the BBC’s urban station, 1Xtra, broke the 1 million mark for the first time, with an average 1.02 million listeners tuning in each week.