The second quarter of 2023 was full of pomp and ceremony. It was a moment in history as we all witnessed the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. The crown then passed to the city of Liverpool as it delivered a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest. But there was one final crowning during Q2, as Ken Bruce became the King of daytime, joining Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio.

Whatever big events happened in the world; radio was right up there with them. The latest RAJAR audience figures show that in Q2 2023 a record 39.2m people are now tuning in to Commercial Radio every week, up 1.3% on the quarter and 8% on the year.

Commercial Radio’s share of listening has also grown massively to a new record of 54.5%, up from 51.4% in Q1 2023. As a result, Commercial Radio now has 7.5 million more listeners than the BBC.

The latest figures have just been released and the Radio Experts team has been pouring over the data to bring you the highlights.

National Stations and Networks

The big story is all about Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio. Following a fantastic Q1, the has grown by a further 12% in reach, with 5.9 million listeners tuning in each week in Q2. Share of listening in the UK has also increased to 4.8% and hours are up by 28% Q on Q (from 37,666,000 to 48,334,000). The arrival of Ken Bruce has played a significant part in this growth. Joining in April from BBC Radio 2, the popular Scot with a mellifluous voice, debuted with 3 million listeners – double the amount the station had 12 months ago during the mid-morning period. Ken Bruce only joined the station in April, so we’re looking forward to seeing if that growth continues in Q3 results which will be released later this year.

Overall, Global continues to lead the UK commercial radio market, with 24.9 million weekly listeners. Heart and Capital remain the UK’s largest commercial brands. However, closing the gap whilst snapping at Global’s heels is Bauer, reaching an all-time high of 21.3 million listeners.

The Heart Brand has been beating steadily; achieving a healthy 11.1 million listeners every week. The Global brand has also increased its listening hours by 3% – that’s a solid 2.3 million additional hours.

The Capital Brand remains as strong as ever with the network reaching over 7.7 million listeners each week – 14% of the population across the UK. The brand has had a 4.6% increase in total hours from 39,345,000 to 41,146,000.

Meanwhile, Bauer’s Hits Radio Network remained relatively static in terms of weekly reach, now at nearly 6.6 million, but increased their hours by 1%.

The Absolute Network has reported an absolutely positive set of results with a 10% increase in total hours, driven largely by longer average listening hours (now 7.1, up from 6.6), as well as a smaller increase in reach, up to 5.4 million from 5.3 million.

Over at talkSPORT, the News UK brand is still sticking it in the back of the net when it comes to hours – up 8% compared to Q1 2023 to 20.7 million.

It’s been smooth sailing for the Smooth Brand as a whole, reporting a 4.8% increase in total listening hours up to 36.1 million. Its reach is up 7.9% year on year to 5.9 million and its total hours are also up 11.0% year on year.

Digital Listening and Digital Only Stations

Combined digital listening accounted for 68.6% of all radio listening, with DAB leading the way at 40.3% and online listening now at 24.9% – up from 22.3% in Q2 2022.

The growth of smart speaker listening continues – it grew quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year and now accounts for 14.4% of all listening.

There are two brand new digital stations from Global captured by this set of RAJAR results. Capital Chill has kicked off with a weekly reach of 178,000 listeners and average hours of 4.5 per week. Meanwhile, Radio X Classic Rock rockets to 275,000 listeners per week and average hours of 4.9.

Long established, KISSTORY is one of the digital stars of the quarter with a 17.5% increase in its weekly reach (from 2,165,000 to 2,544,000) and an impressive 12% increase in its total hours (from 9,849,000 to 11,064,000).

The Do-si-do is back in fashion, as Country music seems to be becoming more popular than ever. Smooth Radio Country has achieved a 24.9% spike in reach and a 48.4% spike in hours.

Bauer’s not letting Global have its own way though, as Absolute Country has also reported growth in reach and hours. Weekly reach is now a record 358,000, up from 299,000 last quarter and the highest it’s ever been, and total listening hours are now 2.4 million, an increase of 48%.

Magic is still in the air as Magic at the Musicals continues to grow with an impressive 21.5% increase in total hours this quarter, increasing by 161,000 to 909,000. Its reach has also grown by 5.3% to 158,000.

Another Magic brand, Magic Soul, has performed strongly this quarter, with its total hours up by 9.6% to 2,158,000. Its reach has also increased slightly from 432,000 to 453,000.

Meanwhile everyone’s hitting the dance floor and busting some moves over at Capital Dance, as it’s increased its weekly reach by 15% compared to Q2 – up from 903,000 to 1,044,000.

Boom Radio’s success continues to boom louder with a 6% increase in reach to 641,000 and a 7% increase in hours to 6.6 million.

The Heart decades stations have had a positive quarter too, all bar one has increased their reach and hours over the period with the winners being Heart 90’s & 00’s. Heart 90’s had a magnificent quarter, adding 1.2 million additional hours, a swing of 42%), and a 10% increase in reach to 1.1 million.


Heart London is still number one in London in terms of weekly reach with 1.8 million people tuning in each week.

Greatest Hits Radio London has had a great quarter in the capital too, increasing its reach to 1.15 million up 13% from 1.02 million in Q1 2023.

The battle for breakfast in London has been won again by LBC’s Nick Ferrari. It’s the number one commercial breakfast show for all three measures – reach, hours, and share.

The top 5 London stations are as follows:

Weekly Reach

Heart London1.78 million
Capital London1.58 million
LBC London1.41 million
Greatest Hits Radio London1.15 million
KISS London0.9 million

Total Listening Hours

LBC London15.6 million
Heart London9.7 million
Magic London7.7 million
Capital London7.5 million
Greatest Hits Radio London7.2 million


Outside of London, there’s been some impressive local results.

Greatest Hits Radio (Lancashire) increased hours by an amazing 256% to 477,000, weekly reach is now 69,000, that’s growth of 60%. Meanwhile, over in the East Midlands, Gem increased both hours and reach by 20% quarter on quarter, and now has a weekly reach of 260,000.

North of the border, Northsound 1 in Aberdeen grew its hours by 13% since Q1 to 735,000 and reach by 8% to 115,000.

Meanwhile, in the North West, Manchester’s finest can’t get enough of Radio X. Its total hours have grown by 7.2% to 1,497,000 this quarter.

Communicorp owned, Heart North Wales has increased its total listening hours by a huge 64% from 522,000, adding 335,000 hours to 857,000 with an increase in listeners of 17%, each of them listening for three hours more each.

We stay in Wales, as youth station Capital North West & Wales is influencing listening, having increased its weekly reach by an impressive 21% (100,000 to 121,000). It’s also increased its total hours by a staggering 40% from 606,000 to 846,000. Share of listening is up from 2.9% to 4.1%.

Heart Thames Valley has done very well across both transmission areas, Berks and North Hants is up 22% in reach quarter on quarter to 242,000, and Oxfordshire is up 17.6% to 167,000, giving an overall uptick of 20% in reach, and a combined weekly reach of 409,000. This adds 33% of new listening hours to the valley, that’s +800,000 hours in total.

It’s a 24-carat set of results for Gold Cambridgeshire. The Global station has had a fantastic quarter with its reach growing by an impressive 23.9% to 57,000. Its total hours have also grown by 9% to 541,000.


UK Commercial Radio is now reaching a record 39.2 million people, steadily increasing its lead on BBC Radio. With star names, more music genres on offer than ever before, plus new ways to listen and interact, Commercial Radio continues to provide advertisers with cost-effective opportunities to communicate with potential customers.

Ian Southey

Ian Southey

Co-founder and Director of Skin Communications