What we Brits quaintly call "speech radio" is consistently holding, and increasing, listeners.
Click through on some of those links to audience figures - then try Hallam FM's listening figures, Heart West Midland's figures, Downtown Radio's figures, etc. They, predominantly, play music. There is quite a difference.
Speech radio's success is even evident in so-called music stations, too. Chris Moyles's breakfast show on BBC Radio 1, when he started, represented 21% of the station's total listening. By the end of his tenure on the breakfast show, that had grown to 29%. (source: RAJAR / Kim McNally's speech at a recent IPSOS MediaCT event). Geoff Lloyd's hometime show on Absolute Radio is market leader for men 15+.
Speech is number #1 (2GB) and #2 (ABC 702) in Sydney. Speech is #2 in New York. Speech is #1 and #3 in Vancouver. And speech is #1 here in London.
Speech is popular online. As Maco AcAleece points out in a discussion post, "I’m amazed how many of my non-radio literate pals (or soc-media psuedo pals) are listening to speech podcasts", citing Radiolab and 99% invisible.
And, online, speech pays, too. TWiT, an online podcast network (which still sees most of its consumption as audio-only MP3s) is on course to generate $6 million in 2012 (it posted $4.2m revenue last year).
Listeners love engaging, interesting speech.
Last week, Global Radio yanked speech format LBC 97.3 from their DAB transmitters in
Last week, too, the BBC unceremoniously dumped Danny Baker from BBC London 94.9, replacing that programme with a more conventional BBC local radio news programme about dog mess on pavements and the state of kids playgrounds. Audiences, once more, are furious: Steven Fry calling the BBC "dickwits", Gary Lineker saying he was "flabbergasted", and comedian Rob Brydon tweeting "Glad the BBC are axing Danny Baker's daily radio show. I've had it up to here with his wit, warmth and originality".
The future for radio - all radio - is the engaging, original speech. The data shows this is for all audiences, and for all ages.
By not recognising the importance of engaging, original speech, and by axing two high quality examples, the radio industry's sleepwalking into irrelevance.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly claimed LBC had been removed from all MXR multiplexes; it's Yorkshire-only.