Saga attracts ageing listeners back to radio

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SAGA 105.2FM, the Glasgow-based easy-listening radio station aimed at the over-50s market, celebrated its first birthday this month with an increased audience share and a higher-than-average figure for listening hours.

Norman Quirk, the managing director, said the latest figures for August provided by Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), which monitors all radio listening, showed the station had a market share of 6.1 per cent (up from 5.7 per cent in May). Average listening hours for SAGA 105.2FM are also well ahead of the industry average at 11.5 hours per week.

Quirk said: "We have hit our targets way ahead of when we originally said. When we received our first set of RAJAR figures in May we got the endorsement of listeners in Glasgow and west central Scotland. We said then we wanted to keep delivering entertaining programming for our listeners and these figures show we've done that and then some.

"This year has passed in a blur and we really couldn't have hoped for better success than we've had."

Saga Radio is part of the Saga Group, which provides insurance, financial services and holidays for people aged 50 and over. It operates two other stations, one in the West Midlands and another in the East Midlands.

Quirk said the Scottish station's success comes from its mixed offering of music from the past six decades with news, information and talk shows featuring presenters including Art Sutter, Dave Marshall, Bill Torrance and Angus Simpson. He said this was also what kept listeners young and old tuned to the station for longer, rather than deserting the station after peak morning shows.

Quirk says the new listeners are predominantly those turned off by other offerings. He said: "Like me, I hadn't listened to the radio for years, but there are people out there who tell us we've brought them back. Taxi drivers listen to us, so that's a good sign. Our listeners tend to be from Radio 2 and 3.

"We need to tailor our advertising to be creative and part of the station's sound and image. Adverts are a turn-off for some listeners so we try and get them to be seamless and part of the broadcast image. It is working and we are growing brand awareness."

Quirk, who was managing director of Scot FM before leaving for Saga, promises he can provide advertisers with more "bang for a buck" as the station grows.

He says Saga has no direct competition but is very focused on its own market. "We might still be in nappies but we listen to what people want. We were asked to do a request show and that's now in the schedule."

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