RAJARs reveal widespread dips in Scottish radio listening

SUMMER being a traditionally low quarter of the year for radio listening, Scottish radio listenership figures were mostly down during the months of July, August and September, with BBC Radio Scotland among those badly hit but the stations owned by Bauer Media also suffering.

BBC Radio Scotland saw its reach – as measured by the number of people aged over 15 tuning in for at least five minutes per week – fall from 938,000 to 822,000 between Q2 and Q3, a drop of 12.4 per cent – with some of the loss attributable to football’s Scottish Premier League, which it reports extensively, taking its annual vacation, at least for half the quarter.

However, it is understood that, when the SPL did return, not as many people were tuning in as before, a reflection, perhaps, of a seeming disenchantment with the fare on offer.

No doubt poised to attract the most attention will be the Bauer stations – among them Radio Clyde, Radio Forth and Northsound – which has recently pooled some of its programmes, especially in the evening, insodoing shedding staff.

Only the other week, allmediascotland published a letter from former Tay Radio presenter, Greg Russell, to Bauer management, bemoaning the networking of programmes. He used his final appearance – presenting the news – to express his disquiet.

No figures were available for the Tay FM and Tay AM stations, but for Clyde 1, the reach – between Q2 and Q3 – was down 6.5 per cent and for Clyde 2, down 1.1 per cent (down 25.2 per cent on this time last year, though). But it was cheerier news elsewhere for the Bauer group, although Forth2’s reach, over the same, quarter-on-quarter timeframe, was down 3.2 per cent and Moray Firth’s was down 0.9 per cent.

Radio Borders’ figure was up 2.1 per cent (but down 12.5 per cent, year-on-year). Up also was the reach for ForthOne (0.9 per cent – 8.8 per cent year-on-year), Northsound Two (15.4 per cent) and West Sound (0.6 per cent). Northsound One was down 2.9 per cent.

The figures were published at 7am this morning by RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research).

Elsewhere, Adam Findlay’s Wave102 was down 7.7 per cent, and 27.3 per cent, year-on-year. Along with Central FM’s chair and majority shareholder, John Quinn, he bought, last month, Aberdeen station, Original 106.

Original’s quarter-to-quarter figure was up 5.4 per cent (from 37,000 to 39,000, while Central FM’s reach was up 5.1 per cent (from 39,000 to 41,000).

Arguably, though, the station with most to cheer about is Galaxy, in the east of Scotland registering a 16 per cent increase (from 106,000 to 123,000) and in the west a 15.3 per cent one (from 131,000 to 151,000). Galaxy – previously known as Xfm Scotland and before that Beat 106 – has recently enjoyed a marketing push.

Bauer Media was declaring itself happy with the results, saying, among things, that Clyde 1 is the number one commercial station in Glasgow and the west of Scotland and ditto for Forth One in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.

In a statement, it said: “In the lucrative 25-44 demographic, Bauer Media has seen an increase of 40,000 listeners year on year and 9,000 quarter-on-quarter. [We deliver] more listening hours in Scotland than BBC Radio Two and BBC Radio Scotland combined. Bauer stations are number one overall in seven of the eight markets they broadcast in.”

Added Graham Bryce, managing director of Bauer Radio Scotland: “I’m delighted to be able to reveal another fantastic set of results for our stations. The fact that we are number one in seven of our eight Scottish markets is fantastic and I’d like to thank all teams at each and every station for their hard work over the past quarter.

“The increase in numbers across our portfolio increasing is mainly due to our compelling programming and great news and entertainment the teams at each of our stations consistently deliver.

“We feel as strongly about localness as our listeners do and we will continue to create stations listeners enjoy and are proud of.”

Real Radio Scotland saw its quarter-on-quarter numbers fall from 704,000 to 693,000, a 8.7 per cent drop. Its year-on-year reach was down 1.6 per cent. But its Q2-to-Q3 share of its available audience was up, from 14.9 per cent to 15.2.

In terms of share of available audience, BBC Scotland came in with a 6.7 per cent, one per cent down on the previous quarter and 1.8 per cent down on 12 months’ previously. R

The Q3 share last year was 8.5 per cent; in 2007, 7.2 per cent; and in 2006, 8.6 per cent.

Says Jeff Zycinski, head of BBC Radio Scotland: “As ever, our figures dip in the summer when there is no SPL football coverage, but I’m very proud of the programmes that we have been producing lately which have been in the best tradition of public service broadcasting.

“Currently, we’re concluding our Under The Influence season, examining Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. Over the summer we had programmes reviewing ten years of devolution and there was extensive coverage of the Edinburgh Festival.

“We’ve also had a great response to [political editor] Brian Taylor’s new debate format on Friday afternoons and [musician] Ricky Ross has become a firm favourite in the evenings and Sunday mornings.”