*** DEBUG END ***

Half Hour catches the early birds

23 August 2013


In good voice: Sunday Half Hour is recorded at St Peter's, Sudbury

In good voice: Sunday Half Hour is recorded at St Peter's, Sudbury

SINCE moving from 8.30 p.m. to 6 a.m., Radio 2's Sunday Half Hour has secured more than double its previous number of listeners, the station reported last week.

About 480,000 people now tune into the programme, a compilation of choral music, hymns, and prayers, compared with 204,000 at the later time.

"It's really exceeded our hopes," the Controller of Radio 2, Bob Shennan, said on Thursday of last week. "But we always wanted to put the programme into a bigger and more prominent slot, and we're really pleased that the audience has taken to it so well."

The rescheduling, announced in January, prompted protests from listeners (News, 11 January). Leigh Hatts, the author of London's 100 Best Churches, said that it was an- other example of the BBC's sidelining of religion. Mr Shennan argued at the time that the 6-9 a.m. slot was "peak listening time", with more than double the number of listeners than on Sunday evenings ( Letters, 1 February). 

He said that the team had "really agonised" over the decision. "But I think we have now created a programme from which we can build." He announced that a Christmas edition was planned, in celebration of the carol: "I honestly don't believe we would have thought of doing that before."

Sunday Half Hour peaked in 2000, with 500,000 listeners, but by 2012 this had more than halved, despite the station's achieving a dramatic increase in its audience.

Of the current audience of the programme, 43 per cent are over 65, a similar proportion to previously.

"What is really good is, because the audience is so much bigger, we have got an awful lot more older listeners," Mr Shennan said.

The station's Good Morning Sunday has also increased its audience, to 2.3 million.

"We are reaching the best part of three million people every morning on Radio 2," said Mr Shennan. "It's really exciting."


Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)