When Mike Batt wrote the words to the hit song he certainly did envisage to success of digital radio. Listening figures for the first quarter of 2007 from Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), show some significant rises:
• 33.5 million listeners across the UK tune into BBC radio services every week
• BBC Radio One figures were up quarter on quarter 300,000 and almost 850,000 year-on-year. Some 10.55 million listeners now tune in every week, up from 9.73 million a year ago.
• BBC Radio One Breakfast presenter, Chris Moyles now reaches more than 7 million listeners every week. Audience has increased on the last quarter by around 240,000 and year-on-year by 750,000.
• Thanks to Freeview and cable, 20 million people in the UK (41 per cent of the population) have listened to radio via their TV. (22.5 per cent are tuning in at least once a week).
• The Internet has resulted in 24.3 per cent of the UK population now listening to radio via this means, up from 20.8 per cent a year ago. Of those, 13.4 per cent tune in at least once a week.
• DAB Digital Radio set sales are growing with 19.5 per cent of adults in the UK own a set, up from 16 per cent three months previously.
• Podcasting.- 18.4 per cent (or 27.3 per cent of the population) listen to radio podcasts with some 27.3 per cent of the population now owning an mp3 player. 5.3 million listeners tuning in every week.
• The BBC Digital Radio portfolio reaches around 2.7 million listeners every week with BBC World Service generating 1.4 million weekly listeners.
• Commercial stations are also very popular. The biggest stand-alone digital station is EMAP owned, The Hits, with 1.2 million listeners.
• Surprisingly, or perhaps not, just eight per cent of the UK adult population listen to radio via their mobile phones. This figure is pretty static quarter-on-quarter, but up from 6.4 per cent a year previous.
If digital radio is enjoying this rejuvenation then can the booktrade exploit it further. Books have long been reviewed and presented on radio but is there a ‘Richard and Judy’ opportunity? Alternatively can radio offer a real distribution digital download channel? Whatever the answers it is clear that digital radio is the background sound to many lives.