If you don’t work in the Radio industry then you won’t ever have felt that slight empty feeling in your stomach that we all feel four times a year, when the audience listening figures are announced. Inevitably, there are downs as well as ups, and when they’re down it’s almost a matter of feeling ashamed, especially if all your colleagues’ figures have shown a rise. That’s only happened once in my seven years on LBC, and I didn’t enjoy it. Rajar is a very curious way of measuring audience. We all know it can be very erratic, yet it’s all we have to go by. One lesson I have learned is that if you have a dramatic rise, it’s probably a blip, just as a dramatic fall is too. What you have to do is look at the trend over a period of time.
The figures out today are truly outstanding for everyone at LBC. For the first time we have broken through the 2 million listener mark. Our previous record was 1.8 million. This really is a landmark for the station and is the culmination of some very hard work by a lot of people. When we went national in February 2014 I think our highest London audience had been around 1.2 million, but the average was around one million. Since then we have doubled the audience.
Nick Ferrari at Breakfast goes from strength to strength, with a national reach of 1.12 million, a massive increase on this time last year. The breakfast show sets the scene for the rest of the day and if your breakfast show isn’t performing it’s likely that will filter down the schedule. Ferrari really is at the top of his game and long may he remain so.
James O’Brien is also performing extremely well, pulling in an audience of more than 900k nationally. He really has demonstrated that if you have a big reach on social media, those watchers/readers will turn into listeners. Shelagh Fogarty has record figures and Nigel Farage has nearly half a million listeners, which is a huge achiement in that 7pm timeslot, especially as his show is only an hour long.
In my own show’s case, when I took over Drive in March 2013 the show had a London audience of around 320,000. The latest figures show a record London audience of 622,000 and a national audience of 815,000. It’s the first time I have ever pulled in more listeners in London than James O’Brien, but he is still ahead on the national measure. Not that I am being competitive! Perish the thought…
So trebles all round. Well, yes, but we do have to remember that we came into our own in this quarter at least in part because Theresa May called an election. We rose to the challenge and further cemented our reputation in the world of politics and current affairs, but in the current quarter we won’t have had that advantage. So yes, we should celebrate our achiement but recognise that there may be a few bumps in the Rajar road before a 2 million audience happens every quarter without fail.