BBC 6 Music is the country’s leading digital radio station

The digital station - once threatened with closure - keeps rising, according to new figures.


Words by: Anthony Walker

BBC 6 Music is currently the country’s leading digital radio station with 1.9 million listeners a week, up 31% on last year and overtaking Radio 4 Extra, according the latest quarter figures from RAJAR.

The station, launched in 2002 as the BBC’s first new national music station in 32 years, was threatened with closure after a review in 2010, but reports were countered by strong resistance from its dedicated listenership and the decision was made to keep it on the air. Since then, the ratings have been impressive – creeping over a million in the year of the closure proposal and rising steadily – with the help of popular new talent like Jarvis Cocker and Lauren Laverne – ever since.

The BBC report on the RAJAR figures also notes the rise in the listeners for Chris Evans’ Radio 2 and Radio 4’s breakfast shows and the ongoing decline in Radio 1 breakfast listeners, despite the introduction of Nick Grimshaw late last year.

Digital radio now accounts for a third of all listening and, despite losses for both 1xtra and the Asian Network, looks strong with commercial stations Smash Hits and Smooth 70s reaching closer to the 1 million figure. Similarly, local radio has suffered losses compared to last year but current figures are good with BBC stations showing a 209,000 weekly increase and Heart the country’s most popular commercial station with 7.36m listeners.

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