Vernon Kay’s BBC Radio 2 show has lost 1.3 million listeners since he took over from Ken Bruce – while the veteran DJ’s audience at his new station Greatest Hits Radio is booming.
The figures come as a result of a backlash among listeners after older stars such as Bruce, Steve Wright and Paul O’Grady were shipped out for younger DJs such as Scott Mills, Rylan Clark and Michelle Visage.
According to data released by Rajar today, Kay’s morning show attracted 6.9 million listeners. This is significantly less than the 8.2 million achieved by its predecessor, although it remains the most popular radio show in the UK.
Bruce admitted he felt like he had been “taken for granted” when he left his Radio 2 show earlier this year. And His former BBC bosses will no doubt be annoyed after his new channel – Greatest Hits – has had 800,000 weekly listeners since June.
The commercial broadcaster, whose presenters include former Radio 2 veteran Simon Mayo, recorded impressive year-on-year growth of 76.9 per cent, the largest of any broadcaster.
Ken Bruce (pictured) admitted he felt like he had been “taken for granted” when he left his long-running Radio 2 show earlier this year
Vernon Kay’s mid-morning show attracted 6.9 million listeners, according to data released today by Rajar. He was spotted at the Art of Wishes Gala in London earlier this month
It now It now has 6.5 million weekly listeners across all broadcasts, compared to 3.7 million last year. Radio 2 has 13.5 million weekly listeners, one million fewer than in the same period last year.
Bruce said: “I’m delighted to hear that Greatest Hits Radio is welcoming more and more listeners.”
“Like me, it’s great to know that more people are enjoying the very best music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as are my broadcaster colleagues like Simon Mayo and Jackie Brambles.”
Meanwhile, Radio 2 is struggling to win back the millions of listeners lost with Bruce’s departure.
The most noticeable drop is Zoe Ball’s breakfast show.
In the last three months, the BBC station recorded 13.5 million weekly listeners, the same as last quarter, according to Rajar – a ratings measurement system for the radio industry.
But that is one million less than in the same period last year.
Ball’s Breakfast Show has lost 200,000 viewers, down to 6.5 million compared to 6.7 million three months ago.
In the same period last year, it was heard by 7.3 million people, meaning it lost 850,000 people year after year. It is still the UK’s most listened to breakfast show.
A BBC spokesman said: “We are pleased that Radio 2 remains the UK’s most listened to radio station with 13.5 million listeners – almost one in four – every week and that Vernon Kay has the most listened to radio program in the UK with 6.9 million listeners .’
Sara Cox waded into BBC Radio 2’s ageism row by insisting there were still “legends” on the station.
The 50-year-old is at the peak of her career with her daily evening show on Radio 2 and hosts Radio 2 in the Park, the station’s flagship live event.
But her station recently came under fire after 72-year-old presenter Ken Bruce was banned from the morning show earlier this year.
She spoke about the controversy surrounding the departure of big stars like Bruce, 72, she said Wife & Home: “In the last few years my career has gotten even better, it has matured.”
Greatest Hits Radio, which also features former Radio 2 veteran Simon Mayo (pictured) as presenter, recorded year-on-year growth of 76.9 per cent, the biggest growth of any station
Radio 2 fans have accused the BBC of ageism as a number of older DJs step down, including Paul O’Grady, Steve Wright, Ken Bruce and Simon Mayo, who are replaced by former Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, RuPaul’s Michelle Visage, Rylan and DJ was replaced by Spoony
“I’m very lucky with how it turned out.” .. [In radio] People move on and are replaced.
“When a change happens, it feels really big in the moment and within a few days you’re like, ‘It’s OK.’ It’s still Radio 2.’
Bruce’s departure caused a stir after he was asked to leave his role at BBC Radio 2 a month early because the company was reportedly “frustrated” that his shows constituted “free advertising” for its next station.
The Scottish broadcaster said in a tweet that he had intended to fulfill the remainder of his contract by the end of March, but said the BBC wanted him to quit sooner after 31 years as presenter of his show.
Meanwhile, Radio 2 is struggling to win back the millions of listeners lost with Bruce’s departure. The most noticeable drop is Zoe Ball’s breakfast show (pictured).
Sara Cox waded into BBC Radio 2’s ageism row by insisting there were still “legends” on the station
Cox admitted it was “a bit shocking” to see Bruce leave.
Speaking about Kay’s appointment, she admitted: “Ken leaving was a bit of a shock, then Vernon started and after three links he felt at home.”
“Also, you have to remember that Vernon is a good-looking boy, but he’s not yet 21, he arrives on a skateboard with his cap on backwards, he’s almost 50 and he’s graying beautifully.”
She defended the row, adding: “He’s older than Ken was when he started, that’s what it might feel like.” [Radio 2] comes in with all these young guys, but we still have all the legends in there.