RAJAR, Composer of the Week and radio’s future

Written by Alex Veeneman

Last week was a significant week for the radio industry, which examined its past, acknowledged its present, and looked ahead for the future.

Last week was a significant week for the radio industry, which examined its past, acknowledged its present, and looked ahead for the future.

RAJARs looking ahead to radio’s future

The RAJARs, the listenership data issued quarterly for BBC and commercial radio stations, were released overnight August 1, acknowledging the work done in the present and looking ahead to the future of the medium. Radio 2 and Radio 4 had significant gains in listenership while a battle for the top music station was commencing in London between Kiss FM and Capital. Radio 2 had 15.4 million listeners, while Radio 4 had a record 10.98 million listeners, an increase of four per cent from the previous year, according to a report from the Radio Today blog.

Over at Radio 1, the pop music station achieved over 11 million listeners, a gain of seven per cent from last quarter but a loss of approximately 2 per cent compared to last year. Yet, overall, the BBC had set a reach of 35.88 million listeners, its highest ever. Mobile devices were also on the rise as a source of radio listening by young people, and overall digital listening on BBC and commercial radio stations stood at 36.8 per cent, according to a statement from the BBC.

Composer of the Week turns 70

A day later, on August 2, as news of the RAJAR results continued to be digested, the past was celebrated while looking ahead to the future, as Radio 3’s Composer of the Week programme turned 70. The programme, presented by Donald Macleod, looks at the life and work of a composer each week over five days, Monday to Friday.

It began its broadcasts on the Home Service on that day in 1943 as This Week’s Composer, with the first composer being Mozart. The programme moved to the Third Programme (which became Radio 3 in 1967), and was rebranded Composer of the Week in January 1988.

A programme with a rich history

Macleod took over hosting duties in 1999, and has recorded over 3,000 shows. “It is a huge privilege to present a programme with such a rich history,” Macleod said in a statement. “I feel incredibly lucky to be presenting Composer of the Week as I genuinely think it is one of the best jobs in broadcasting.”

An interview with Macleod could not be arranged prior to the submission of this story.

Roger Wright, the controller of Radio 3 and the director of the Proms, said the programme had continued to be a delight to listeners. “Composer of the Week is one of our most loved programmes and it continues to delight with its descriptions of the life and work of composers who have inspired generations of listeners,” Wright said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Radio 3 declined to list the programme’s listenership figures, saying they don’t release figures beyond the general stations. Radio 3 had nearly two million listeners in the last quarter.

The week showed much about radio

What that particular week showed for those in the industry was the considerable interest which remained in British radio, and what the week showed for listeners was that programmes, like Composer of the Week, would still be there to inform, entertain and enlighten, even as the mechanisms of the medium change. 

Radio isn’t going away. It’s getting better by the day.

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