There must have been some celebrating last night.
95.8 Capital FM has often, since its launch in 1973, been the figurehead for commercial radio. It was, just, the second commercial station in London and its historic success and sound has been coveted and emulated by many. It was also the first to face the challenge of new stations moving into its market and the faded glory of having heritage status. It’s difficult to remain number one when a selection of stations are taking bites out of you.
The first time round Richard Park was in charge, he’d started to see a couple of quarters of decline before leaving Leicester Square in 2001. The massive explosion of stations at that time, a resurgent BBC and some dubious programming choices saw Capital’s figure cliff over the next few years and then hit rock bottom at the beginning of 2006. Since then they’ve plateaued and have started to see slow growth.
Today, they celebrate something that they lost for the first time in Q3 2003, when Heart stole their crown – being the number one commercial station in London. Suddenly the ‘London’s Number 1 Hit Music Station’ tagline is actually correct.
However, it’s a very tight race and Capital has only just nudged ahead. I also think it’s the lowest ever share figure in London to grab the top spot. Indeed, if you have a look at the share chart below these are not great numbers with Capital at a lower share than even the last quarter.
Getting back to number one is a real success for Capital. The station sounds better than it has for a long time, it’s doing what CHR needs to do – play a small number of hits, have a good selection of presenters with a personality and have all the big events. However with such a tight race it’s going to be hard for them to keep that number one spot.