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Absolute Radio in tune with almost 3m listeners

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Absolute Radio now has almost 3m listeners in the UK after the successful launch of its new stations playing 60s and 70s music in the first quarter of 2012.

The Absolute Radio Network had a total weekly audience of 2.98m listeners in the opening three months of the year, according to the latest Rajar data.

This was up by over half a million listeners on the same period last year, and up 164,000 on the previous quarter's figures.

The main Absolute Radio station - home to DJs such as Frank Skinner and Christian O'Connell - was up 15.6% year-on-year to 1.6m weekly listeners.

New stations Absolute Radio 60s and Absolute Radio 70s debuted strongly in the first quarter, with 151,000 and 157,000 respective weekly audiences.

Absolute Radio 80s remains the broadcaster's best-performing station, attracting 857,000 listeners, up 37.3% year on year.

However, Absolute Radio Noughties saw its audience decline by 50% year-on-year to 84,000.

Absolute Radio noted that 77% of listeners now access its stations via digital platforms, such as DAB, considerably ahead of the industry average of 29.2%.

"3 million listeners for the Absolute Radio brand is a real milestone, especially as we are only three years old," said Absolute Radio chief operating officer Clive Dickens.

"Christian O'Connell has gained 50,000 new Breakfast listeners this quarter and 200,000 over the year and three Sony Radio Awards, not a bad week!

"The summer is looking great for us especially as Johnny Vaughan joins Absolute Radio to celebrate the arrival of the 'greatest show on earth' to Great Britain."

Among the other major national commercial networks, UTV Media's TalkSport attracted a total weekly audience of 3.23m, roughly flat on the previous quarter.

Global Radio's Classic FM pulled in 5.44m listeners, down by almost 600,000 on the first three months of 2011. The Global-owned Xfm also suffered a big loss, down 13.6% year-on-year to 809,000.

GMG Radio's Smooth Radio had a nationwide audience of 3.32 million listeners, up 7.6% year on year.

Bauer Radio had a tough first quarter, as its Q station was down 26.2% to 214,000, and Smash Hits slumped 9.4% to 991,000. However, The Hits pulled itself back above 1m listeners, attracting 1.08m each week.

Heart, owned by Global Radio, remained the biggest national commercial network, attracting 7.48m listeners, ahead of sister group Capital with 7.05m.

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