Chris Evans’s new Virgin Radio show attracts a million listeners

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Dan Charity

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Chris Evans took over the Virgin breakfast show in January

Chris Evans has helped Virgin Radio break the one million listener barrier, the latest Rajar ratings show.

His new breakfast show attracted an average weekly audience of 1.05 million in the first three months of 2019.

Virgin Radio as a whole was averaging about 480,000 listeners per week before he joined.

Evans moved to Virgin in January after leaving BBC Radio 2, where he attracted around nine million listeners during his decade on the breakfast show.

The DJ said he moved to Virgin because he “wanted a new mountain to climb”, adding: “I’m back in my spiritual home and loving every minute of it.”

The new host of the Radio 2 breakfast show, Zoe Ball, kept the audience there relatively steady in her first three months in the job.

She recorded 9.05 million listeners in the first quarter of this year – just 18,000 down on Evans’s last set of figures.

Ball said she was “supersized giddy” over the figures and thanked listeners “for giving us a chance and for getting so involved in the show’s antics”.

News boost

There was a considerable increase in listeners for news programmes and stations in the three months running up to UK’s intended departure date from the European Union at the end of March.

About 364,000 extra listeners tuned in to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, taking its average weekly audience to 7.16 million.

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Justin Webb and Mishal Husain are among the Today programme’s presenters

BBC Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show also went up by 214,000 listeners to 2.14 million.

Similarly, commercial news station LBC celebrated the highest reach of its 47-year history, with 2.25 million weekly listeners on average.

Elsewhere, Radio 1’s breakfast host Greg James dropped slightly, by 67,000 listeners, to 5.04 million.

The Kiss breakfast show also saw a dip of around 50,000 listeners, to 1.7 million nationally, after the departure of Rickie, Melvin and Charlie, who spent a decade with the station.


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Zoe Ball took over the Radio 2 breakfast show from Evans in January

By Steven McIntosh, BBC News entertainment reporter

Given how many schedule changes have recently taken place in radio, this is the most significant Rajar quarter for some time.

But, as always, the raw numbers don’t give us the full picture.

Firstly, Zoe Ball and Chris Evans haven’t yet technically completed what’s known as a “full book” (the quarter begins on New Year’s Day and Ball didn’t start her show until 14 January, while Evans’s began on 22 January).

It’s also worth noting that many station bosses care more about total hours than reach, particularly in commercial radio, where more advertising can be sold depending on how long listeners are tuning in for.

Some of the other big radio beasts are missing from this quarter’s figures entirely. For example, Simon Mayo’s new show is absent from the latest Rajar data.

That’s partly because the former Radio 2 drivetime presenter has joined a brand new station, Scala, which only launched in March and won’t report any results at all until later this year.

But even if we did have data for Scala, we wouldn’t have figures for Mayo’s show specifically because he hosts the mid-morning slot, and Rajar only publicly releases data for breakfast programmes and stations overall.

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