Bigger numbers, better connections

a woman using a laptop and a smart speaker
Rajar Q1 2024 radio audience survey analysis

Welcome to the first RAJAR release of 2024 which covers listening for January to March this year and Commercial Radio is sitting pretty yet again… Reaching 39,670m listeners a week up 2.6% which is another listening record and the sector is well on course to break the 40m listening barrier…hence ‘bigger numbers’.

The increase in audience size, channel choice and a rise in listening via connected devices such as smart speakers benefits advertisers large and small….hence ‘better connections’  The growth of connected device listening provides you so many ways to target your customers.  Digital Audio campaigns can be tracked, providing you with attribution metrics, and new ad formats allow you to interact with them dynamically.

Connecting with your customers

Commercial Radio online listening is up to 32.1% from 28.3% a year ago. The beauty of online listening for advertisers is knowledge. Because online listeners are connected via phones, tablets, cars and smart speakers, we know more about them: for instance their location, their age and interests. This makes Digital Audio perfect for reaching a specific location, for enhanced audience targeting, and for interactive campaigns.

Furthermore, the share of radio listening via smart speakers (20.7%) surpassed analogue AM/FM listening, which stands at 19.3%.  Smart Speakers allow for actionable ads – “Ask your smart speaker to…” making responding to an audio ad simpler than ever.

What you’re waking up to

Well, in the national commercial sector it’s Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden, which is way ahead of the competition with an audience reach of 4,166m.  The closest competitor, Greatest Hits Radio, gets second place with 2,939m, and third spot is taken by Capital at 2,547m. Capital Breakfast has had a change of host recently; Jordan North is now hosting in place of Roman Kemp, but we’ll have to wait for the next RAJAR to see how he’s doing because his tenure isn’t covered in this survey.

Capital’s Jordan North

It’s all kicking off

At least at that’s what the team at talKSPORT will be hoping for with the upcoming Euro 24 tournament.  talkSPORT’s audience stands at 3,390m (up 2.9% YonY) but a more impressive increase of 10% QonQ. The Euros will span the next two RAJAR survey periods so it’ s a key time for the station to build audience in what otherwise would have been a fallow period for football.

Of the news stations, the newest on the block, GB News, was the only station to grow YonY with an audience of 455,000, showing significant growth of 42.6%. As we near the election, GB News (as well as other stations in the sector) will be aiming and hoping to attract new listeners.

Greatest Hits etc.

Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio is still in the news with its highest profile presenter Ken Bruce popping up everywhere and being named checked as the BBC Radio 2  debate about their listener priorities continue. The Greatest Hits Network is now the second largest station network with 7,798m listeners, up 46.9%.  Global’s Heart is the largest network with an audience of 9,442m, up 6.1%. 

We need to bear in mind, though, that Greatest Hits Radio’s exponential YonY growth is due also to existing Bauer-owned stations being absorbed under the Greatest Hits banner.  This consolidation will eventually end, and when that happens we’ll have an more realistic organic growth audience benchmark. To evidence this, QonQ the network is up 13.8% (an extra 948,000 listeners) with around 405,000 of them coming from the South Coast regional station Wave 105, which is now branded as a Greatest Hits station.

In our last release with noted the growth of the Smooth Radio Network which targets the 35/40 audience, and it’s a rollover in this survey: the Smooth audience now stands at 5,804m, up 10.5% YonY and 6% QonQ.


It’s great news all round for the Commercial Radio sector and advertisers alike. For large advertisers who want to reach their customers at scale; well, that scale just got bigger. For SMEs, there are now more ways to enter the audio market with a meningful campaign on a tighter budget.

We’ll be back on Thursday 1st August with the Q2 2024 results.

National StationsReach 000sYonY Change %National NetworksReach 000sYonY change %London StationsReach 000sYonY change %
Classic FM4,440-2.3Heart Network UK9,4426.1Heart1,9062.8
talkSPORT3,3902.9Greatest Radio Hits Network7,79846.9Capital1,486-9.7
Magic3,0697.7Hits Radio Network6,716-0.5Magic1,4218.1
LBC2,547-2.5Capital Network UK6,2431.5LBC 1,287-11.4
Kiss2,293-8.4Smooth Radio Network UK5,80410.5Greatest Hits Radio1,1259.9