Radio 3 hits all-time low

Rob Cowan

Cowan: will replaced Penny Gore as breakfast presenter. Photograph: BBC

Radio 3 has sunk to its lowest-ever audience - six months after controller Roger Wright instigated its biggest schedule change for five years.

The station had a weekly reach of 1.78 million listeners in the second quarter of 2007, according to official audience figures published today, its lowest since new Rajar methodology was introduced a decade ago and likely to be its lowest ever.

It lost 119,000 listeners on the previous quarter and was down 51,000 listeners on the same period last year, when it recorded its previous record low audience of 1.83 million.

Radio 3 traditionally has a difficult second quarter, but the ratings will still be a disappointment coming so soon after the introduction of the new schedule. Its share fell to 1.1% from 1.2% the previous quarter, but was stable year-on-year.

Jane Clancey, research account head for BBC audio and music, said the station's audience traditionally hovered around the 2 million mark.

"It is only to be expected that the schedule changes would take time to bed in," she said. "It always floats around the 2 million level, and year on year it is broadly stable."

Controller Roger Wright made major changes to the Radio 3 line-up in February this year, including a new weekday breakfast programme presented by Rob Cowan. Mid-morning programme CD Masters was replaced by Classical Collection.

Introducing the changes to listeners in February, Wright compared the new schedule to a "spring clean".

"I am writing an extra message to you this month, since our new schedule (described recently as a 'spring clean') begins this weekend.

"It's the first time in five years we have made significant changes to our programming.

"All radio stations change their programming from time to time, adapting to changing tastes and developing ideas.

"If Radio 3 hadn't changed since its first day in 1967 we would still be broadcasting sailing, swimming and football in addition to speech and music!"

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Radio 3 hits all-time low

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday August 16 2007. It was last updated at 12:07 on August 16 2007.

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