The BBC’s troubled local radio services were dealt a fresh blow today with another huge drop in audience.
BBC Radio Kent has seen its audience fall to just 132,200 listeners in the latest official figures released by Rajar.
The BBC has been hit by strikes and protests from across the political spectrum over its ongoing moves to reduce local radio content and invest in more online local journalism.
KentOnline’s sister radio station kmfm, which broadcasts exclusively from Kent, has seen its audience grow over the past 12 months, with 191,000 listeners tuning in for a total of 1.2 million hours every week.
Highlights in today’s Rajar release include Breakfast hosts Garry Wilson and Chelsea Little welcoming 35,000 new listeners over the past year.
The BBC proposals mean their Kent station will only have eight hours of dedicated local content every weekday.
These changes will also extend throughout Saturdays and Sunday mornings, with a national 'all-England' program taking over from 10pm onwards every day, and from 2pm on Sundays.
Rob Wills, head of broadcast at kmfm, welcomed today’s listener figures but emphasised the importance of supporting local radio.
He added: "Although the team at kmfm is delighted that people are choosing to listen to us for longer, the support local radio needs right now is more imperative than ever. If the industry continues with networking and removing local content, radio will sound very different in the future.
“I ask any radio fans, those who rely on us for travel updates, morning laughs, introduction to new music in the evening, or even just company while waiting for the kids to finish school, to please continue supporting us and local radio in general. Kent would be a sad place without it."