A record 36.14 million people tuned into commercial radio in the UK in the second quarter of 2019, taking commercial radio’s combined audience share up to 48%, only marginally behind the BBC’s total share of 49.3%.

According to the latest data from RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), the official measurement body for the UK radio industry, that meant commercial radio’s share of hours increased 2.3% year-on-year, while its average weekly hours climbed to 13.5, up from 13.1 in the same quarter last year.

Some 48.8 million adults aged 15 and over, or 89% of the UK population, listened to the radio each week in Q2 2019, taking the average number of weekly hours for the quarter to a massive 1.015 billion.

On average, listeners tuned into 20.8 hours of live radio each week and 36 million adults, or two-thirds (65%) of the population, did so via a digitally enabled platform, such as DAB, DTV, online or an app.

And in another sign of the growing importance of digital, RAJAR revealed that its share of all radio listening stood at 56% in the second quarter, up from 50.2% in Q2 2018 and 48.7% in Q2 2017.

In an average week, digital accounted for 569 million hours of listening, with DAB taking more than two-thirds share (69%), followed by online (22%) and DTV (9%).

RAJAR further reported that at least 27.5% of all adults claimed to listen to live radio via a smartphone or tablet, while a quarter (26%) used a voice activated speaker, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. And it emerged that a full 94% of those who own one of these speakers used them to listen to live radio.

“These speakers are now in over 26% of all homes and are good news for the radio sector with most people using them to listen to live radio,” said Ford Ennals, chief executive of Digital Radio UK, in comments reported by the Guardian.

“Smart speakers also make it easy for people to listen to the increasing range of digital stations and have helped to propel the growth of new innovative digital stations,” he added.

Sourced from RAJAR, Guardian; additional content by WARC staff