Some good news for BBC Radio 3, bad for Classic FMmain
The Rajar listening figures are out.
They usually make bad reading for the classical music community with a continuing trend of steady decline.
Not this time.
Radio 3 has, by our reading of the stats, a 4.4% increase on the comparable first quarter of 2013 and 4.8% on the last quarter of 2013.
Average listening hours have risen by an hour to 6 hours 38 minutes in a typical week, the highest for six years.
Breakfast listening is 24 percent up on the quarter, 4 percent down on the year.
Composer of the Week was 24% up on the quarter, 9% up on the year.
Classic FM, by contrast, continues its steady decline, down 5 percent year on year.
It’s not quite clear what Radio 3 is doing right, beyond varying the formula a bit and finding new patterns of listener loyalty. Classic FM knows that it needs to embrace change. But it’s audience is so conservative and its musical offering so fixed that any change might send car drivers spinning off into the arms of soft pop.
Whatever the future holds, these are good figures to Roger Wright to leave behind as he prepares to swap his statuettes for Aldeburgh fishing tackle.
Interest declared: Norman Lebrecht has made programmes for Radio 3 over the past 15 years.