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Bauer hails ‘phenomenal’ Ken Bruce effect as Greatest Hits Radio gains 1m listeners

Bauer hails ‘phenomenal’ Ken Bruce effect as Greatest Hits Radio gains 1m listeners

Former BBC radio favourite Ken Bruce’s new show on Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio Network reached three million listeners, nearly double last year’s audience for the daypart, according to Bauer.

The show, which has a loyal fanbase thanks to the PopMaster quiz, attracted nearly a million new listeners since last year equating to 93% year-on-year growth.

The former Radio 2 presenter, 72, moved his morning show to the 10am-1pm slot on Greatest Hits Radio in March after 31 years at the BBC. His departure was “sped up” by BBC bosses so his final show aired a month before his contract ended.

Simon Kilby, managing director of Bauer Media Advertising, told The Media Leader this audience growth was “really phenomenal” and said that it was supported by growth across the station, including for its drivetime show with Simon Mayo (who also joined from BBC Radio 2), bringing its total to six million weekly listeners across the network.

Kilby added: “We’re incredibly excited about the growth that we’ve seen but we don’t think that’s the whole story because of how Rajar works. I’m not an expert on the details of the mechanics of Rajar, but we know that on six-month Rajars, we’ll see further growth in the next Rajar when it comes to Q3 as well.”

This is in reference to the fact Greatest Hits Radio uses a six-month reporting period like other radio networks like Global’s Heart and Capital meaning its Q2 2023 numbers cover January to June. Those with access to the Rajar respondent level data can see the April- June numbers.

He also highlighted that Bauer has seen “enormous growth” in streaming around Ken Bruce’s show, with the highest streaming levels for the PopMaster music quiz segment which he brought from BBC Radio 2.

Kilby said: “There’s a pretty good correlation for that between BBC audiences coming over because they love Ken and they love PopMaster as well.”

However, Kilby emphasised the “most pleasing aspect” of this Rajar release was “the overall picture for commercial radio”, showing strong growth largely at the expense of the BBC, which he said was an indication of the work both Bauer and Global had done in terms of investment in brands, talent, and distribution.

But what about BBC Radio 2?

At the same time, Bruce’s former station BBC Radio 2 has lost an average one million listeners, according to the latest quarterly Rajar radio audience data.

Bruce joined Bauer in April, and it is possible to examine BBC Radio 2’s quarterly radio audience reach and extrapolate changes in listenership connected to Bruce’s move.

Year-on-year, BBC Radio 2’s mid-morning listenership went down by between 488,000 (12.45pm-1pm) and 1.6 million (10.30am-10.45am), or an average of 1.09 million across the timeslot. The largest losses were pre-12pm, when Bruce’s show would normally air, and the smallest losses after that time.

Quarter-on-quarter, this drop was between 644,000 (12.15- 12.30) and 1.49m (10.45- 11.00), working out as an average listener decrease of 1.04m over the mid-morning slot.

Greatest Hits Radio is a network of lots of local stations. Within that Greatest Hits Radio London is the only one to report its own Rajar data on a three-monthly basis.

By comparing reach figures over the morning slot for Greatest Hits Radio London and BBC Radio 2 in the London area quarter-on-quarter, it is possible to see the former gaining listeners across the mid-morning timeslot, while the latter lost listeners.

For Greatest Hits Radio London this worked out as a quarterly gain in reach of between 27% (9.30am-9.45am) and 77% (10.45am-11am), and for BBC Radio 2 in the London area this broke down to a drop of between 4% (12.15pm-12.30pm) and 18% (10.45am-11am).

Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio network plays the biggest songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s and targets an audience of 40+.

Currently the top three age categories for its listeners for the first six months of the year are 65+ (29%), 55- 64 (25%), and 35- 44 (19%).

This week Bruce added 60s music to the Bauer slate as he launched a new station at Bauer called Ken Bruce’s Secret 60s which will be accessible for Greatest Hits Radio Premium subscribers.


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Mrs catherine j bale, Mind your own business , Mind your own business , on 06 Aug 2023
“Ken Bruce is the most boring man on radio , up there with Simon Mayo. They both brought their own fan base with them but no new input. The music is pre chosen and on a constant reel. Bauer killed the radio star”
Gloria Webb, Retired, Private Home, on 05 Aug 2023
“I love radio 2 but don't switch on during the week until 9.30 as I was disappointed when Chris Evans left. Also Vanessa Phelps. New presenters not the same. However do like Vernon Kaye who is doing a great job.”

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