During a three-month period (to December 2011) that saw a national campaign against proposed cuts to programming and staff numbers, BBC local radios between them only managed to get some 45,000 new listeners – a predictably lukewarm national response, you might think, to a national anti-cuts campaign that never really gathered momentum.
And despite the 45,000 increase, the overall number of people listening to BBC local radio is still down by 133,000 compared to this time last year.
All doom and gloom? Not really.
There are stations that increased their audiences substantially over the last three months (maybe as a result of vigorous local anti-cuts campaigns) AND over the past year too (see the chart at the bottom of the story). Interestingly a lot of northern stations seem to be performing pretty well, and a lot of southern ones less so.
Here in Yorkshire, BBC Radio Sheffield continued to attract new listeners: 12,000 over the past three months and 16,000 over the year.
BBC Radio York was down on both counts – 5,000 over the past three months and 3,000 over the year.
BBC Radio Leeds did well too during the anti-cuts campaign over the last three months, picking up 16,000 new listeners, though it still lost 25,000 over the year ending December 2011.
Which left the radio in a bit of a dilemma when reporting the news this morning. Three month picture? 12-month picture? It plumped for neither.
“Figures out this morning show more people are listening to BBC Radio Leeds,” the radio said in its news bulletins. “Over a quarter of a million people are now tuning in, according to latest audience research. That’s an increase of 57,000 on five years ago.”
You’ve got to hand it to them. Find the year when the audience figures were at their lowest (200,000 in December 2005) and compare it to today. Hey presto! Proper good news!
Here are the Rajar tables, fiddled about with a bit to show how many new listeners stations have been getting (the red columns on the right). Our local radios are in red too.
And here’s a table highlighting the stations which gained most listeners over the past year and the percentage of the local population they’re reaching.