We have another record. The media juggernaut that is Commercial Radio rolls on, now reaching 38,690m (69%) of adults each week – an increase of 4.1% Year on Year. The gap between BBC and Commercial Radio audiences continues to widen.  BBC Radio reach now stands at 32.201m – 6.489m shy of Commercial Radio. 

Media owners continue to invest heavily in programming, new stations, on air talent and marketing, and their business strategies have largely continued to pay dividends.  The increase in audience size and channel choice benefits advertisers large and small.  For large advertisers who want to reach their customers at scale; well, that scale just got bigger.  For SMEs, there are now more ways they can enter the audio market with a meaningful campaign on a tighter budget.

It’s time to to get connected

The percentage of audience listening to Commercial Radio online increased from 25.4% a year ago to 28.3%, surpassing analogue listening (27%) for the first time.  The beauty of online Digital Audio 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.

“Ask your smart speaker to…” is a Call To Action you’re going to hear a lot more of in the future.  Actionable ads make responding to a radio ad simpler than ever and, as smart speakers now account for a 60% share of all online radio listening, maybe now’s the time to explore them.

Increased digital listening has also been an enabler to growth for all stations.  It gives them ubiquitous audience reach via station apps, Alexa skills, and other apps such as Radioplayer.

Q1 highlights

Talk and Sport

talkRADIO has increased its audience by 38% to 840,000 from 650,000

In London, the Nick Ferrari Breakfast Show on LBC has retained top spot with an audience of 820,000 

talkSPORT hit the back of the net (sorry, it was just too tempting!) with a reach of 3,296m – up 11.7% Year on Year.


The Greatest Hits Radio Network now has an audience of 5.309m – that’s an increase of 21.6%.  There are two reasons for this boost; firstly, Bauer rebranded a number of stations Greatest Hits Radio ahead of this survey and so the brand ‘inherited’ some of these numbers. Secondly, The publicity and hype that surrounded Ken Bruce’s move from BBC Radio 2 to GHR obviously tempted people to trial GHR, and we await with interest to see what happens to their figures in the next survey, and see the true impact of The Ken Bruce Effect.

Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden is the largest commercial radio breakfast show with a reach of 4.017m

Boom Radio continue to grow their appeal to the older radio listener with another record audience of 635,000 – up 119%


There’s no doubt that listeners are lapping up the Commercial Radio offering.  This benefits advertisers of all sizes because there are now so many more ways to reach the Commercial Radio audience – your customers – whatever your budget or objective.

National StationsReach 000sYonY Change %National NetworksReach 000sYonY change %London StationsReach 000sYonY change %
Classic FM4,544-11.9Heart Network UK8,8964.7Heart1,85414.7
talkSPORT3,29611.7Hits Radio Network6,74916.4Capital1,64611.1
Magic2,8501.9Capital Network UK6,1511.4LBC 1,452-4.7
LBC2,717-0.7Greatest Radio Hits Network5,30921.6Magic1,315-1.4
Kiss2,5028.5Smooth Radio Network UK5,2521.1Greatest Hits Radio1,02416.5

Sources: RAJAR Q1 2023.  Reach numbers are weekly adults 15+. All comparisons over time are Year on Year.

We will be back on Thursday 3rd August 2023 with the Q2 2023 results.


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