As the RAJAR* listening figures issued today cover the period up to March 29, which was less than a week from the introduction of Lockdown, they will not reflect the current Coronavirus crisis.
Radio, the original social medium, has risen to the challenge of these changed times by finding new ways of working and providing much needed information, interaction, entertainment and company for an audience whose lives have been greatly impacted.
Anecdotally, stations are seeing marked increases in online listening, which can be tracked in real time, so that augurs well for the next set of results.
Looking at the latest release, Cool FM adds an extra dimension to its 30th birthday celebrations by taking the top spot by weekly reach for the first time - 527,000 from 478,000 a year ago, with hours up by 2%, ahead of BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle with 510,000, up from 490,000 and down 3% in hours.
Downtown increased to 278,000 from 194,000 with 34% more hours, while Downtown Country decreased to 108,000 from 123,000 and lost 40% in hours.
Q Radio saw an increase in reach - 299,000 from 271,000 and hours were up by 3%.
U105 had slight decreases in reach - 200,000 from 201,000 in its FM area, and 27,000 from 29,000 in the DAB-only area, with hours up by 2% and down by 15% respectively in each.
It’s always instructive to assess the local stations in the context of overall radio consumption, and this shows that their share of all listening is now 58%, up one percentage point on the same quarter last year.
*RAJAR is compiled by Ipsos - MORI
The national picture from Matt Deegan: