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Who is still listening to Radio 1?


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Since taking over the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show 18 months ago from self-proclaimed Radio 1 ‘saviour’ Chris Moyles (39), Nick Grimshaw (29) has faced criticism as listeners to the show have fallen away in droves. Though the party loving DJ has refrained from addressing the elephant in the studio during his shows (during which all else is permitted), Radio 1 boss (and former producer of the Chris Moyles Show) Ben Cooper defended the breakfast host saying that falling numbers were expected as the radio station underwent a radical transformation.

It now seems that both Grimshaw and Cooper have been vindicated after the show has gained 700,000 more listeners in three months. From October to December 2013 Grimshaw’s show has had an average of 6.29 million listeners, 400,000 less listeners than last year but the same amount that Moyles had after his first year in the breakfast studio.

Younger Generation

Though good news for Grimshaw, much to Cooper’s frustration, the average age of the station’s listener remains stubbornly at 32, outside the 15-29 remit that the BBC Trust has set for the station.

When Cooper talks of attracting a younger audience it seems he really means getting rid of the older ones by replacing longstanding DJs. Soon after Moyle’s departure Vernon Kay (39) left the station, and only this month Sara Cox (also 39, and Breakfast Show DJ from 2000-2003) hosted her last show. Moyles texted in to her final show saying, ’You’ve joined the ex’s club now then?’ and joked that Cox could join now his monthly meetings with Kay and Tony Blackburn. One may wonder how long Scot Mills (39, ominously) is to last.

An even greater change being wrought upon the station is its new life as a television medium. In the spring it will move to BBC’s iPlayer. Talking to The Independent, Cooper called this ‘a truly historic moment in the timeline of Radio 1’ when the station ‘stops just being a radio station and becomes an audio and visual brand.’ Cooper believes that this change is vital if the station hopes to attract younger listeners.

Cooper has also realigned the focus of the station to school and university students. Both the Radio 1 playlist and annual events such as Radio 1’s Big Weekend are aimed directly at this demographic. The Teen Awards, which takes a prominent role in the Radio 1 calendar, is broadcast at 6.30pm on CBBC and has an age span of 6 -13. ‘The next generation of listeners’, Cooper says.

Mickey Mouse Club

Such a realignment has disgruntled some who begrudge the prominence given on the station to acts like One Direction and Little Mix, whose fans are principally young teens and below. These so called ‘Bubblegum’ acts, young, beautiful and always smiling – find their posters on – are seen as the British version of the US’s Disney tweens such as Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers.

Beyond the repetition of their songs, all the One Direction boys have co-hosted shows on Radio 1. Only this month Harry Styles was co-presenting the breakfast show with Grimshaw after an all-nighter together at Warner Music’s Brits after-party at the Savoy Hotel.

Of his late night partying Grimshaw said, ‘I don't think I should go to bed just because I have a job, that is unfair. People at Radio 1 are like 'you are only good when you are hungover'.’

Well Nick, keep partying with One Direction, watch those rating rise and you will have plenty more to party about.

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