Breakfast radio shows lost listeners during pandemic

Breakfast radio shows lost listeners during pandemic BLOG Monday 21st November 2021


Breakfast radio shows lost listeners during pandemic

By Steven McIntosh

Zoe Ball, Greg James, Roman Kemp, Chris Evans and the Today programme are among the shows to have fewer listeners than the last time ratings were measured.

The drop can be partly explained by lower commuter numbers as many people continue to work from home.

But industry body Rajar urged caution when making comparisons because it is also measuring audiences in new ways.

The latest radio listening figures are the first to be published since May 2020, and now incorporate smartphone data in the methodology.

The ratings cover July to September this year, with some data based on a smaller sample of listeners from the previous three months also included.

Some breakfast DJs, such as Radio X’s Chris Moyles, appear to have bucked the downward trend for breakfast shows; while radio listening in general has increased slightly and many stations improved their overall reach.

BBC Radio 5 Live, for example, recorded a significant boost, probably helped by coverage of summer sport events such as the Euros and the Olympics.

The station attracted 5.9 million weekly listeners between July and September, up from 5.2 million before the pandemic.

The increase in radio listening as a whole, juxtaposed with the decrease for breakfast show audiences, suggests the figures reflect how listening habits and lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic.

While fewer people might listen to a breakfast show, some radio stations noted their daytime figures were up, likely a result of people listening more while working at home during the day.

The latest listening figures show:

Times Radio, which launched in June 2020, has attracted an impressive 637,000 weekly listeners. This is the first time its official figures have been published.

That puts it above other speech stations such as Talk Radio, which recorded 450,000 listeners in the latest quarter – but that’s an improvement on their last pre-pandemic figure of 424,000.

Another new station, Boom Radio, debuted with an audience of 233,000. Aimed at the baby boomer generation, the station was considered a rival to Radio 2 for listeners who feel the BBC station had skewed too young in recent years.

Chris Evans saw his Virgin Radio audience drop below the 1.1 million he achieved in early 2020, to 985,000 in this quarter. However, Rajar advised caution in comparing the new figures to historical data due to its new methodology.

With the same caveat, BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball attracted an audience of 7.2 million listeners – down from her last available ratings of 8.1 million, recorded in the first quarter of 2020. It does, however, remain the biggest breakfast show in the UK.

Radio 1 breakfast host Greg James was down to 4.3 million, from a previous figure of 4.9 million. However, since last May, his show time has changed, with a later start time of 07:00, and running later than other breakfast shows, to 10:30.

Capital breakfast host Roman Kemp attracted 2.8 million listeners. Prior to the pandemic and under the old measuring system, that figure was 3.3 million.

A spokesman for Radio 1 stressed that the station has a young target audience, and figures would be higher if children aged over 10 were included. This would also be true of Capital. Radio 1 drew attention to its strong presence on social media and YouTube – where their channel attracts 1.62 million views per day.

Kiss breakfast, which got new hosts last year in Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely, was down from 1.4 million in the last figures to 980,000.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme attracted 6.5 million. The last available figures were almost seven million in the first quarter of 2020.

BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast attracted two million listeners, down slightly on 2.1 million in May 2020.

Chris Moyles crossed the 1 million mark for the first time since taking over the Radio X Breakfast Show in 2015, making him one of the few morning DJs to have increased their audience under the new methodology.

Heart’s breakfast show, presented by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden, was the most listened-to commercial breakfast show in the UK, with 4.1 million listeners.

Speech station LBC celebrated an all-time record, with three million weekly listeners.


The five most promising methods to extend human life

Latest research findings on biology of ageing have revealed secrets to living longer, healthier lives

Professors Richard Faragher of University of Brighton and Lynne Cox of University of Oxford on the scientifically proven most effective ways to lengthen life expectancy

Most people want to live a long and happy life – or at least avoid a short and miserable one. If you’re in that majority then you’re in luck. Over the last decade, a quiet research revolution has occurred in our understanding of the biology of ageing.

The challenge is to turn this knowledge into advice and treatments we can benefit from. Here we bust the myth that lengthening healthy life expectancy is science fiction and show that it is instead scientific fact.

  1. Nutrition and lifestyle

There’s plenty of evidence for the benefits of doing the boring stuff, such as eating right. A study of large groups of ordinary people show that keeping the weight off, not smoking, restricting alcohol to moderate amounts and eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetable a day can increase your life expectancy by seven to 14 years compared with someone who smokes, drinks too much and is overweight.

Cutting down calories even more –  by about a third, so-called dietary restriction – improves health and extends life in mice and monkeys, as long as they eat the right stuff, though that’s a tough ask for people constantly exposed to food temptation. The less extreme versions of time-restricted or intermittent fasting – only eating during an eight-hour window each day, or fasting for two days every week – is thought to reduce the risk of middle-aged people getting age-related diseases.

  1. Physical activity

You can’t outrun a bad diet, but that doesn’t mean that exercise does not do good things. Globally, inactivity directly causes roughly 10% of all premature deaths from chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various cancers. If everyone on Earth got enough exercise tomorrow, the effect would probably be to increase healthy human life expectancy by almost a year.

But how much exercise is optimal? Very high levels are actually bad for you, not simply in terms of torn muscles or sprained ligaments. It can suppress the immune system and increase the risk of upper respiratory illness. Just over 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity is enough for most people. Not only does that make you stronger and fitter, it has been shown to reduce harmful inflammation and even improve mood.

  1. Boosting the immune system

However fit you are and well you eat, your immune system will, unfortunately, get less effective as you get older. Poor responses to vaccination and an inability to fight infection are consequences of this “immunosenescence”. It all starts to go downhill in early adulthood when the thymus – a bowtie-shaped organ in your throat – starts to wither.

That sounds bad, but it’s even more alarming when you realise that the thymus is where immune agents called T cells learn to fight infections. Closing such a major education centre for T cells means that they can’t learn to recognise new infections or fight off cancer effectively in older people.

You can help – a bit – by making sure you have enough key vitamins, especially A and D. A promising area of research is looking at signals that the body sends to help make more immune cells, particularly a molecule called IL-7. We may soon be able to produce drugs that contain this molecule, potentially boosting the immune system in older people. Another approach is to use the food supplement spermidine to trigger immune cells to clear out their internal garbage, such as damaged proteins, which improves the elderly immune system so much that it’s now being tested as a way of getting better responses to Covid vaccines in older people.

  1. Rejuvenating cells

Senescence is a toxic state that cells enter into as we get older, wreaking havoc across the body and generating chronic low-grade inflammation and disease – essentially causing biological ageing. In 2009, scientists showed that middle-aged mice lived longer and stayed healthier if they were given small amounts of a drug called rapamycin, which inhibits a key protein called mTOR that helps regulate cells’ response to nutrients, stress, hormones and damage.

In the lab, drugs like rapamycin (called mTOR inhibitors) make senescent (aged) human cells look and behave like their younger selves. Though it’s too early to prescribe these drugs for general use, a new clinical trial has just been set up to test whether low-dose rapamycin can really slow down ageing in people.

Discovered in the soil of Easter Island, Chile, rapamycin carries with it significant mystique and [has been hailed] in the popular press as a possible “elixir of youth”. It can even improve the memory of mice with dementia-like disease.

But all drugs come with pros and cons – and as too much rapamycin suppresses the immune system, many doctors are averse to even consider it to stave off age-related diseases. However, the dose is critical and newer drugs such as RTB101 that work in a similar way to rapamycin support the immune system in older people, and can even reduce Covid infection rates and severity.

  1. Clearing out old cells

Completely getting rid of senescent cells is another promising way forward. A growing number of lab studies in mice using drugs to kill senescent cells – so-called “senolytics” – show overall improvements in health, and as the mice aren’t dying of disease, they end up living longer too.

Removing senescent cells also helps people. In a small clinical trial, people with severe lung fibrosis reported better overall function, including how far and fast they could walk, after they had been treated with senolytic drugs. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Diabetes and obesity, as well as infection with some bacteria and viruses, can lead to more senescent cells forming. Senescent cells also make the lungs more susceptible to Covid infection, and Covid makes more cells become senescent. Importantly, getting rid of senescent cells in old mice helps them to survive Covid infection.

Ageing and infection are a two-way street. Older people get more infectious diseases as their immune systems start to run out of steam, while infection drives faster ageing through senescence. Since ageing and senescence are inextricably linked with both chronic and infectious diseases in older people, treating senescence is likely to improve health across the board.

It is exciting that some of these new treatments are already looking good in clinical trials and may be available to us all soon.

Richard Faragher, professor of biogerontology, University of Brighton and Lynne Cox, associate professor of biochemistry, University of Oxford.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence.

REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort


“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler


Happiness is…listening to the radio (DJ Steve Vimto on TRAX FM.)


Ross Noble – “How come Miss Universe is only ever won by people from Earth?”


Love is…when your heart does the talking


A time to listen to Radio 2…A time to listen to DJ Steve Vimto on TRAX FM Radio.


1st November

1604 William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello was presented for the first time, at The Palace of Whitehall in London. The palace was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698. Seven years to the day, Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Tempest was also presented for the first time, and also at the Palace of Whitehall.

1848 WH Smith opened its first railway bookstall, at Euston Station in London.

1922 The first radio licences went on sale in Britain at a cost of ten shillings (50p).

1956 Premium Bonds first went on sale in Britain with the winning numbers picked at random by a machine with the acronym ‘ERNIE’. The first Premium Bond was bought by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd.





©2021 Phil M Robinson