RAJAR: Q1 2020

In the last RAJAR to study radio listening before the coronavirus lock-down, how did UK and Welsh radio perform?

Top-line Stats

89% of the UK’s population tune into radio each week, an increase of 2% since the last RAJAR.

67% of those listeners are tuning in via digital means (DAB, online or an app).

18% of listeners use their smart speakers to listen to radio every day.

On average a listener tunes into 20.2 hours of live radio per week.

60% of listeners tune in while at home, an increase of just 1% since Q4 2019.


Across the stations we surveyed, it doesn’t seem as though anything has significantly changed in the fortunes of any station, with most seeing decreases.

Heart South Wales has seen a  decrease in reach during the last quarter, and that has continued into 2020. Their reach dropped to 368,000 down 37,000, their reach is now down to 19% (down 2%)

Smooth North West and Wales’ increased again this quarter by 8,000 to 69,000. However South Wales’ reach decreased by 15,000 to 62,000.

Kiss (West) also saw a decline, from 359,000 to 342,000, a loss of 17,000. Their % reach remained the same, however.

Local stations in Swansea experienced minor decreases. 96.4FM The Wave saw a drop in reach of 2,000 to 112,000.Swansea Bay Radio’s reach decreased by 1,000 to 23,000. Swansea Sound’s reach also declined by 4,000 to 25,000.

Capital received mixed results in Wales. Capital North West and Wales’ reach decreased significantly by 20,000 down to 106,000 however balances itself out after a sharp increase in listeners last quarter. 

Capital South Wales saw a minor increase of 1,000 taking them to 181,000.

Listener hours remained relatively unchanged across the board, with the most significant losses coming from Smooth Radio South Wales (down 3.1 hours to 5.6) and Heart South Wales (down 1.9 hours to 7.4).

Heart South Wales no longer has the highest listener hours, losing the crown to a tie between 96.4FM The Wave and Capital North West and Wales, both on 7.5.

Kiss (West) has retains the lowest listener hours at 4.5, although this is an increase of 0.4 since Q4 2019.

Radio Pembrokeshire again maintains the top position with the highest % weekly reach at 31%, followed by The Wave with 23% and then Heart South Wales at 19%.



Global continues to lead in the commercial radio market, with 25 million listeners and the top four commercial radio brands in the UK – Heart, Capital, Smooth and Classic FM.

Heart remains the UK’s biggest commercial radio brand with 9.4 million people tuning in every week.

Capital is once again the UK’s No.1 hit music brand, reaching 7.5 million weekly listeners.

Classic FM celebrates a 13 year high, increasing its position as the UK’s most popular classical music station.


Meanwhile, Bauer radio brands recorded a reach of just under 18m weekly listeners – dropping -1% since Q4 2019, though reporting a year-on-year boost of 1.7% across its portfolio of stations.

Bauer’s Hits Radio Brand was a stand-out performer, up 9.1% year-on-year while holding steady quarter-on-quarter to reach 6.6m listeners each week.

However, Kiss performed less well, falling – -5.4% since the last quarter to 3.6m.


Zoe Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show has lost 1 million weekly listeners since she replaced Chris Evans as presenter of the UK’s most popular breakfast show.

Ball drew an average of 8.1 million weekly listeners to her breakfast show in the first quarter of this year, compared with the 9.1 million listeners Evans attracted in the final quarter of 2018.

Evans’ rival digital-only Virgin Radio show has grown to attract more listeners than Ball has lost, 1.12m.

BBC Radio 1 managed to fight back against a long decline in listeners, as younger audiences gravitated towards other formats such as streaming services. The station increased its audience by more than 100,000 a week to 8.9 million at the end of Q1 2020.

Among the stations to see the largest quarterly growth in hours per listener were Bauer’s Smooth Radio Chill (+40% to 4.2 hours), Global’s Heart 70s (+32.3% to 4.1 hours) and Bauer’s Magic Soul (+28% to 6.4 hours).

We’re looking forward to seeing the next RAJAR figures which will show how much more consumers are tuning into radio and digital devices since lock-down.

So which radio station is right for you?

If you want to make sure you’re using your marketing budget to its full potential and using the right radio station(s) to reach your target market, then give our team a call on 02921 320 200 or email at [email protected]


RAJAR stations surveyed across Jan – March 2020.

https://mediatel.co.uk/news/2020/05/14/rajar-q1-2020-national-stations-and-networks, https://radiotoday.co.uk/2020/05/rajar-q1-2020-regional-and-local-radio-facts-and-figures/, https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/may/14/zoe-balls-bbc-radio-2-show-loses-a-million-listeners, https://www.rajar.co.uk/docs/news/RAJAR_DataRelease_InfographicQ12020.pdf, RAJAR

Radio stations surveyed:

102.5 Radio Pembrokeshire, 106.3 Bridge FM, 96.4 FM The Wave, Capital North West and Wales, Capital South Wales, Heart North Wales, Heart South Wales, Kiss (West), Radio Carmarthenshire and Scarlet FM, Radio Ceredigion, Smooth Radio North West and Wales, Smooth Radio South Wales, Swansea Bay Radio (surveyed as Nation Hits!), Nation Radio South Wales, Swansea Sound – 1170 MW

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