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The most popular radio stations in the UK

We delve into the RAJAR listening figures to give the biggest British radio stations and brands.

Media UK publishes all the audience figures for every radio station - here's Radio 1's audience figures for example. You'll find audience figures published on the Media UK website, linked-to from most radio station pages: and linked from some radio station owners too. We also list a full set of charts and data.

The figures below, however, also include radio station brands: we're treating "Heart" or "Kiss" as one station here, rather than each individual local radio service. This gives a clearer view of the popularity of station brands.

These figures are based on RAJAR ending December 2013.

The top 10 radio stations with the most listeners

Normally, when people ask for the most popular radio station, they mean the one with the most amount of listeners. This will always give national or London stations as a result, and ignore smaller, local radio stations - even though, in many areas, the most popular station is a local one.

1. BBC Radio 2 (15.5m listeners every week)
2. BBC Radio 4* (11.2m)
3. BBC Radio 1 (11.0m)
4. Capital (7.5m)
5. Heart (7.3m)
6. BBC Radio 5 live* (6.3m)
7. Classic FM (5.6m)
8. KISS (5.0m)
9. Smooth Radio* (4.0m)
10. Magic (3.6m)

In terms of individual radio stations, we list all UK stations in order of total listener numbers, total time spent listening, and market share.

The top 10 radio owners with the most listeners

It's also important to look at radio owners, since they have the market in commercial terms.

1. BBC national radio (33.1m listeners every week)
2. Global Radio (20.0m)
3. Bauer Media (14.4m)
4. BBC local/regional radio (9.3m)
5. Real and Smooth Ltd (6.1m)
6. UTV Radio (4.4m)
7. TIML Radio (Absolute Radio) (3.5m)
8. BBC World Service (1.4m)
9. Orion Media (1.2m)
10. Jazz FM (0.7m)
Global Radio and Real & Smooth Ltd were both owned by Global Radio for this survey, but are quoted separately.
TIML Radio is now owned by Bauer Media, but were operating separately at the time of this survey.


The top 10 radio stations with the highest amount of listeners in their area

If you want to look at popularity based on how many people listen in their area (and thus, take on board local radio stations as well as national), then the 'reach percent' is the best figure to examine. This shows you people who've listened for at least five minutes a week, and takes no account of whether they listen any longer than that. Here's a full list.

1. Channel 103 FM (64% of people in their area tune in every week)
1= Island FM (64%)
3. Manx Radio (55%)
4. Radio Borders (50%)
5. Moray Firth Radio (49%)
6. Radio Pembrokeshire (45%)
7. West Sound (45%)
8. Yorkshire Coast Radio (45%)
9. CFM (44%)
10. 3FM (42%)

The top 10 radio stations with the highest listening share in their area

The share of listening in a station's broadcast area is normally the best way of monitoring how popular a radio station is. This makes it easier to work out how popular the station's entire broadcasting output is, in comparison to others in its area. Here's a full list.

1. Island FM (43.3% of all radio listening in their area is to this station)
2. Channel 103 (35.8%)
3. Radio Borders (30.7%)
4. West Sound (28.1%)
5. Manx Radio (27.6%)
6. Moray Firth Radio (23.1%)
7. BBC Radio Guernsey (21%)
8. Northsound One (20%)
9. Wessex FM (20%)
10. BBC Radio Ulster (19.7%)

Note: figures here for BBC Radio 5 live also include BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra; BBC Radio 4's figures include BBC Radio 4 LW; and Smooth Radio also includes Smooth 70s.

This page will be updated shortly.


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Recommendations: 0
Philip Jenkins

i am fed up with hearing the same music and vocalist from morning til night,over and over again for weeks,months even.there are millions of recording by hundreds of singers and bands,but we are fed this repetitive stuff,all the you get paid by recording companies to push this music to serll cds.

Recommendations: 0

Philip, stations play what people want to hear, and they know they want to hear it by forcing them to hear it.

Recommendations: 0
Chris Brewton

Completely agree to Davids comment. Radio stations can only air because of local community ratings. When I’m tired of local radio stuff I play Pandora radio in my car. Listening to the same stuff over and over becomes saturating so it’s best to mix it up.

Recommendations: 0
Charlie Dread

For something a little different try or locally on 102.5 FM…..we agree with you philip…..there are so many middle of the road bland radio stations….we offer a difference…Enjoy.

Recommendations: 0

Radio is, sadly, predominantly bland and unadventurous, with small playlists, treating listeners as idiots. There are loads of great new radio stations, mainly on the Internet, and we’re doing great things at – even playing music off vinyl (shock!) which never made it to CD or download. There have been millions of tracks recorded in the last century, lets find ‘em and hear ‘em…...

Recommendations: 0
Ravedance Radio-Station

Radio should be about having fun and enjoyment too many people seem to forget that the big stations and ofcom don’t want to see the little stations rise i think it should be easier to obtain licences but ofcom seem to have licence rounds which you have to wait to come round

Recommendations: 0
Madeleine Tschannen

I look for a nice good English speak Radio. I live in the Switzerland and i learn English since 2 years ago. Every things in English helps me of this way. Now the English Radio.

Recommendations: 0
James Martin

PM me, we need to hook up. X

Recommendations: 0
Suzannah Martin

Excellent mix from Alan Martin :) perfecto !!! Xxxc

Recommendations: 0
Brenton-Lee Jones

Excellent Mix in the Charts, BBC Radio 2 is a variety radio channel that why it #1 , I think XFM and Absolute Radio need to be in the Top 10 or notice more, i’m proud of Magic at #10 not many people i know listens to that!

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Credits: Photo James Cridland