Drop in Radio 2 listeners after Ken Bruce exit looks to be easing

A sharp drop in listeners at BBC Radio 2 after Ken Bruce’s departure last year looks to be levelling off, figures suggest.

The station had an average weekly audience of 13.3 million people in October to December 2023, down 7% from 14.3 million a year earlier but a fall of just 1% on the previous three months.

Bruce left Radio 2 in March and took his PopMaster quiz with him after more than three decades hosting the mid-morning show.

The 72-year-old went on to join commercial station Greatest Hits Radio, which has seen a large jump in its average audience over the last 12 months, up 70% from 4.0 million to 6.8 million.

Former Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo, host of the Greatest Hits Radio drivetime show, said he was “delighted” at the station’s success.

The Audio and Radio Industry Awards – London
Simon Mayo (Lia Toby/PA)

He added: “We’re hearing from more and more listeners who continue to find us on Greatest Hits Radio for Confessions, All-Request Friday and all the other fun stuff. What a very pleasant start to 2024.”

Vernon Kay has taken over Bruce’s slot at the BBC and has started his own music quiz and featured performances from the Radio 2 Piano Room.

The listening figures have been published by audience research body Rajar.

They also show that:

– Radio 4’s average audience was 9.1 million across the last three months of 2023, down from 9.3 million in the previous quarter and 10.1 million a year earlier, but higher than 9.0 million in April to June.

– Radio 5 Live had 5.2 million listeners in the final quarter of last year, down 6% on both the previous quarter and a year earlier, but higher than 5.0 million in April to June.

– Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show had an average weekly audience of 6.6 million in October-December, up 1% from 6.5 million in the previous quarter but down 8% from 7.1 million in the same period in 2022.

– Radio 4’s Today programme had 5.6 million listeners in the latest quarter, up 1% on the previous quarter but down 9% from 6.2 million a year earlier.

– GB News, Times Radio and TalkRadio had 430,000, 492,000 and 725,000 listeners respectively during the latest quarter.

Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, congratulated Kay on Radio 2’s listening figures and for inspiring “people up and down the country with his triumphant BBC Children In Need Ultra Ultra Marathon” to raise funds for the charity.