Around ten years ago, the future for radio listening appeared distinctly unpromising as audiences fell due to threats from other media.
Now, the situation has changed with record audiences and 89% of adults listening to radio every week in the UK, averaging 21 hours each (source).
A growing number of people now listen online, and almost two thirds of listening is done using digital platforms (including DAB radio).
According to RAJAR figures, the BBC remains the predominant provider, accounting for 51.4% of the total audience with Radio 2 at the forefront.
Commercial channels are catching up, however, together attracting almost the same number of listeners as the combined BBC stations.
What Are the Most Listened-To Radio Programmes in the UK?
The radio programmes with the highest audiences are all breakfast shows as people listen over breakfast or while travelling to work.
According to figures from RAJAR, Zoe Ball leads the way on the BBC 2 Breakfast Show with over nine million listeners. Ball has managed to retain the show’s high listening figures after taking over from Chris Evans in January 2019.
The Today Programme on Radio 4 is in second spot at more than seven million weekly listeners, and third is the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James, which receives over 5 million listeners.
Radio 1’s listening figures have increased recently after previously falling, the drop attributed to a drive for younger listeners and offset by increased YouTube and other social media viewings.
At the time of writing, the top 3 most listened-to radio programmes in the UK are:
- The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 – 9.1 million weekly reach
- The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 – 7.1 million weekly reach
- The BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James – 5.1 million weekly reach
Other programmes with very high listening figures include programmes broadcast between 8 am and 1 pm on BBC Radio 2, when listening figures often exceed 2 million.
These programmes include Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary, Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs and The Michael Ball Show.
Commercial stations remain significantly behind the BBC, although the Dave Berry Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio reaches around two million weekly listeners.
The challenge for all is to keep progressing, particularly by attracting younger listeners since 88% of over 55s listen to live radio compared to just over 50% of 15-24 year olds.