He has lost listeners, but it’s not all grim for Radio 1’s Grimmy

The numbers do not lie, but they also do not show the whole truth or the bigger picture, says Mark Jefferies

Good Evans! This morning there will be lots of smiling faces at Radio 2 as Chris Evans celebrates a record breaking set of Rajar figures that show he has a record 9.8million listeners.

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And over at Radio 1, Nick “Grimmy” Grimshaw has lost close to a million and is down to 5.8m, creating a gap of four million.

The knives are out in some quarters, and even the Press Association who are normally the most neutral of media outlets seemed to take delight in his falling figures.

They wrote paragraphs and paragraphs about the drop and stated it was the lowest figure since Sara Cox hosted the Radio 1 breakfast show in 2003, whilst Evans’ huge figure was barely mentioned in the article.

The numbers do not lie, but they also do not show the whole truth or the bigger picture.

Radio 1 moved aside successful DJ Chris Moyles for a reason.

They were criticised by the BBC Trust for several years and told to find a younger audience after a report in June last year showed the average age of their listeners was 30.

They were told they needed to focus on serving 15-29 year olds and what they have done is quite extreme.

Out goes megagob Moyles and in comes Grimmy, playing lots more music and aiming the playlist and content at teenagers and twenty somethings.

Grimmy’s new figures, although disappointing, include the highest proportion of listeners aged 15-24 in any Radio 1 breakfast ratings for three years.

The other thing they DON’T include are his new listeners aged 12,13 and 14 years old, because Rajars only measure those 15 and over.

So at an estimate, BBC insiders tell me there are hundreds of thousands of his listeners – the very kind of young people the BBC Trust want tuning in – that are not in the results.

Now I must admit I have a soft spot for Grimmy and did spend some time with him this week ahead of the Rajars.

He told me then that Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper had really stressed the importance of making the show young.

“Figures weren’t a worry for Ben. They just said the aim is to get the average age lower and get more teenagers listening, that was the plan. It wasn’t ‘we need more listeners’.”

Grimmy went on a live tour in the last few weeks, he attended schools and played his show live across the country in front of secondary school kids.

I saw some of these in Derry, Northern Ireland and girls (and a few boys) screamed as if he was Justin Bieber or One Direction.

Some girls even asked to marry him and dozens of others hung around outside his hotel.

They are all avid listeners but aren’t in the Rajar figures until they get a bit older.

So whilst Radio 1 HQ might be a bit gloomy this morning compared to Radio 2, I do not expect any knee-jerk reaction. Grimmy’s breakfast show was introduced as part of a long term plan which they hope will send Radio 1’s average age tumbling down.

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Mark Jefferies is Deputy Showbiz editor at the Daily Mirror