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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Net boosts radio figures
People are surfing and tuning in at the same time
Radio audiences are reaching a record high in the UK as more internet users tune in while they surf, research statistics have revealed.

Far from killing off radio, the growth of home computer use and multichannel TV has boosted UK audiences to 43.4 million adult listeners a week.

A study by the industry body, Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) shows that more and more net users, predominently young males, are switching on for background sound to their surfing.

Rajar spokesman Justin Sampson said: "More people seem to be listening to the radio in the evenings while they are using the Internet and we see this as a great potential audience."

More people seem to be listening to the radio in the evenings while they are using the Internet

RAJAR spokesman
But he added that slow access to the Internet, sound quality on home computers and the need to pay for Internet use could provide obstacles to this area of growth.

The growing appetite for radio, says Rajar, means that around 90% of the population tune in to some form of radio programme each week.

Radio's total audience has grown by 1.5% in the past three months, with 3.3% of radio listeners tuning in through the Internet.

The study found that 1.8% of them listen to a national UK station, 1.2% to stations outside the UK and the rest tune in to local radio.

Station appeal

More appealing radio output has also contributed to the growth in listeners.

BBC Radio 2 has managed to shed its 'golden oldies' image to become one of today's biggest success stories in radio.

Presenters such as Terry Wogan and Steve Wright have attracted huge audiences, picking up nearly a million more listeners each week for the station compared to the same period last year.

Breakfast show host Wogan picked up 420,000, giving him an audience of 6.21 million, while Wright found an extra 440,000 in the quarter up to the end of March.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "It is not that we are trying to attract younger people, it is just that our older audience enjoys listening to modern presenters and popular music."

Popular radio formats have been pulling in audiences across the industry.

Rajar figures showed that Classic FM - recently named UK station of the year at the Sony Radio Awards - picked up a quarter of a million weekly listeners, while Virgin Radio added around 350,000.

Virgin boss Chris Evans' breakfast show is still a big hit with listeners.

Virgin Radio chief executive John Pearson said: "Despite what we seem to hear about Chris Evans being unpopular, he alone has succeeded in raising audience figures by 7% this quarter for his breakfast show."

But TalkSport, which was relaunched from Talk Radio, has shown a slight drop in listeners in the last quarter according to the Rajar study.

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