BBC 6 Music listenership hits record high for digital radio

The alternative music station has two million weekly listeners, according to new figures

BBC Radio 6 Music has hit 2 million weekly listeners for the first time, according to the latest listenership figures.

The alternative music station had an average weekly reach of 2.1 million listeners in the final three months of 2014, according to Rajar figures published today (February 5) and reported by The Guardian. It is now the first digital-only station to pass the two million audience mark in the UK.

Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music, hailed the listenership figures as “a landmark moment”, and said they would be aiming higer. “It is not going to be a mass mainstream station like Radio 1 or Radio 2, but the vast majority of the adult population still don’t know about 6 Music,” he said. “We will continue to look upwards to the next landmark, 2.5 million or something like that.”

Presenter Lauren Laverne – a key figure in the station’s talent stable alongside Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie, Shaun Keaveny and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey (pictured right) – tweeted her approval of the news – see below. Lamacq has the station’s biggest hit show, getting an audience of just over 900,000 listeners for his drivetime slot. Radio 3 now has a weekly audience of 2.03 million.

Of the analogue channels, Radio 2 retains its status as the nation’s biggest station, with 15.3 million listeners – a drop of 200,000 on the previous period. Radio 1 lost around half a million listeners year-on-year, pulling in 10.4 million per week.

BBC 6 Music was under threat of closure in 2010, when it had an audience of 695,000. Thanks to an online petition and the consequent boost in profile, it was saved from the chop.

This year sees the second 6 Music Festival, which will take place in Tyneside and see performances from Royal Blood, Jamie T, The War On Drugs, The Maccabees, Sleater-Kinney and many more. The first 6 Music Festival took place in 2014 in Manchester.