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Radio 4’s Today programme sheds more than 800,000 listeners in a year

John Humphrys and Mishal Husain (Jeff Overs/BBC)
John Humphrys and Mishal Husain (Jeff Overs/BBC)

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has shed more than 800,000 listeners in the last year, new figures show.

The flagship news programme, hosted by John Humphrys, Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Nick Robinson and Martha Kearney, pulled in 6.82 million listeners a week in the second quarter of 2018, according to the latest figures released by audience research body Rajar.

This a significant decrease from the 7.66 million who were tuning in in the second three months of 2017, and a slight dip on the 7.07 million who were listening every week in the first three months of 2018.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The last time the Today programme’s listenership was lower was in the first quarter of 2016, when its weekly reach was 6.76 million.

The fall in Today’s figures mirror those of Radio 4 as a whole, which has shed a million listeners in the past year, pulling in 10.60 million in the second quarter of 2018, compared to 11.55 million in 2017 and 10.92 million last quarter.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “BBC Radio 4 Today is compulsory morning listening for seven million people who tune in each week for in depth reporting and agenda-setting interviews.

“There were record figures last year as the nation turned to Today during significant news events such as the general election, terror attacks in Manchester and London, and the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Audience figures fluctuate for news programmes across TV and radio in line with news events and the latest Today figures show a sustained loyal listenership and an overall increase since 2014.”

The figures comes shortly after it was revealed the salaries of the Today programme presenters have undergone a shake-up over the past year, according to the BBC’s new annual report.

Humphrys has taken a notable pay cut, along with a number of BBC men, in response to the corporation’s gender pay gap dispute.

Salaries revealed by the BBC in July last year, in £50,000 brackets, showed host Humphrys was earning £600,000 to £649,999 for his work, including the morning news programme.

According to the newly published list of the BBC’s stars earning more than £150,000 for the financial year 2017/18, now in £10,000 pay brackets, Humphrys is now earning between £400,000 and £409,999.

However, the BBC has disclosed that his salary will drop to below £300,000.

Robinson is this year in the £250,000-£259,999 bracket, seemingly earning around the same as the previous financial year, as in 2017 he was in the £250,000-£299,999 category.

John Humphrys
John Humphrys has recently taken a pay cut (Jeff Overs/BBC)

Also in a similar position is Husain, who last year was in the £200,000-£249,999 bracket, and is now in the £220,000-£229,999 category, and Justin Webb, who last year was in the £150,000-£199,999 bracket and is now in the £160,000-£169,999 band.

On BBC Radio 1, Nick Grimshaw’s breakfast show saw a slight bump before he swaps programmes with Greg James.

The duo will switch timeslots later this year, with James taking on the early starts while Grimshaw moves to drive time.

The Radio 1 Breakfast Show With Nick Grimshaw pulled in 5.29 million listeners a week in the second quarter of the year, a boost to the 5.10 million he drew last quarter, but still a drop on the second quarter of 2017, when he was attracting 5.50 million.

Nick Robinson
Nick Robinson seemingly earns the same as last year (Ian West/PA)

Meanwhile Chris Evans’ Radio 2 breakfast show saw a small drop between the second and first quarter, dipping from 9.12 million weekly listeners to 9.04 million.

On BBC Radio 5 Live, the breakfast programme’s listenership dropped below two million for the first time this decade.

In the second quarter of 2018 the show, hosted by Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden drew 1.94 million listeners a week, compared to 2.11 million in the first quarter and 2.27 million in the second quarter of 2017.

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