Capital regains No 1 crown in London

No 1 local commercial station in London has 2.18 million listeners a week and a 6.1% share of the audience

Global Radio's 95.8 Capital is again the undisputed No 1 local commercial station in London, for the first time since 2005.

With 2.18 million listeners a week and a 6.1% share of the audience, Capital took the honours in terms of both weekly reach and market share, according to official Rajar listening figures for the first three months of 2011 published on Thursday.

The last time the 38-year-old station achieved the "double" was in 2005 when it was still owned by GCap Media.

Capital's Johnny Vaughan and Lisa Snowdon also took the Rajar honours among the London commercial breakfast show DJs, with 1.23 million listeners between 6am and 10am.

The Capital pair were ahead of Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott on Global sister station Heart, who had 860,000 listeners, and Bauer Media-owned Magic 105.4's Neil Fox, who had 839,000 listeners.

Heart was runner-up to Capital in terms of weekly reach with 2.11 million listeners, ahead of Magic's 1.99 million. But Magic came second in terms of audience share, with 5.3% ahead of Heart's 4.9%.

Bauer Media's Kiss 100 was overtaken by Heart, with 1.821 million listeners (a 4.7% share), up 9.2% year on year but flat on the previous quarter.

Capital's return to the top spot in London coincided with the rollout of the Capital brand to another 10 Global local stations around the country.

The first listening figures for the newly quasi-national Capital brand, which kicked in at the beginning of this year, suggest a UK wide audience of 6.712 million, marginally down on a previous total listenership (when the stations retained their different identities) of 6.764 million.

Back in London, Smooth Radio London and Xfm London both enjoyed double digit audience gains. GMG Radio's Smooth, boosted by the arrival of breakfast presenter Simon Bates, had 643,000 listeners, up 37.7% on the previous quarter and a 1.8% share of the audience.

Global Radio's Xfm was up 16.6% year on year to 604,000, a 1.3% share.

The same company's talk station, LBC, consolidated its recent audience gains, down on the quarter but up year on year to 935,000 listeners, a 5.1% share, while there was a big rise for sister station LBC News 1152, up a third year on year to 447,000.

But there were big losses for another Global station, Choice FM London, down nearly 20% both quarter on quarter and year on year to 423,000, a 1% audience share.

The BBC's station in the capital, BBC London 94.9, was also up, 6.9% year on year to 557,000, a 1.7% share.

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John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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