Commercial radio’s mix of music, news, travel and local information is listened to by 39 million people each week. With such a diverse audience it is important to understand the make-up of our industry.

Commercial radio is more though than just a collection of stations. For example, the two biggest radio groups — Global and Bauer — run two very different academies that are helping to train the next generation of media professionals.

Tuning In to Diversity looks at a whole range of industry initiatives and also explores the diversity across commercial radio, particularly among the smallest stations. 

Several radio companies have also embraced apprenticeship schemes that focus on equipping talented young individuals with the skills they need to thrive in the radio and audio industry. In addition there is recognition that the sector has the potential to make a real difference in terms of diversity and inclusion.

The diversity of output is important and specialist music stations now play a bigger role than ever in making available an unprecedented volume and breadth tracks with choice from dedicated Asian stations like Sunrise and Panjab Radio to London Greek Radio and Capital XTRA.

According to RAJAR data*, our sector reaches 63% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds compared to a 39% reach by BBC services.  It also reaches 70% of listeners considered to be in a lower socio-economic classification (C2DE), compared to 48% reached by the BBC.

While overall share of hours for all adults is 43% at the BBC compared to 55% at commercial radio, for ethnic minority audiences it is 33% for the BBC and 61% for commercial radio. In addition, close to a quarter of local commercial radio listeners (5.6 million) do not tune in to any other type of radio service.

However, there is recognition from the commercial radio sector that more could be done to encourage greater diversity within our industry and so Radiocentre is helping to drive a positive change.

Diversity in radio

Ofcom now publishes an annual comprehensive survey of the diversity of the radio industry . The first report was published in 2018. The 2019 Diversity and equal opportunities in radio report highlights key findings from radio broadcasters that Ofcom regulates and explores how they compare in promoting equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion.

Alongside Ofcom’s 2019 survey we published our own Tuning In to Diversity report that seeks to complement Ofcom’s study and explores the diversity across commercial radio, particularly among small stations. 

There is recognition amongst the industry that more can be done to improve diversity. For example, Radiocentre has been working with the entire sector in order to address the issue, seeking support from the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion to draw up a diversity statement for commercial radio and outline next steps.

There’s no doubt that commercial radio offers listeners a large amount of choice, and in recent years there has been significant growth of stations which cater to minority audiences. Work has also been undertaken with various partners, including Creative Access, the BBC, the Advertising Diversity Task Force, the Creative Diversity Network, Creative Skillset and the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion.

We welcome Ofcom’s work in this area and recognise the steps that have been taken by commercial radio to address this important issue. However, we call on the industry — commercial radio, the BBC and community radio — to work together further in order to explore practical ways in which greater diversity can be achieved. Ofcom also has a number of resources available on the their Diversity and Equality hub.

With younger audiences on average than other radio services it is vital for commercial radio to embrace new talent in order to address increasing competition from streaming providers. The following section highlights some of the schemes and initiatives undertaken by broadcasters specifically targeted at young people.

Tuning In to Diversity

In July 2019 at an event in Parliament we launched a new Tuning In to Diversity report. Our report complements Ofcom’s survey (which focuses on larger broadcasters) and explores the diversity across commercial radio, particularly among the smallest stations. 

As well as looking at the rich diversity at some of the smallest commercial radio stations, Tuning In to Diversity explores industry initiatives. These include the Mental Health Minute, Young Audio Awards, Creative Access radio masterclasses (below), as well as the Global and Bauer academies. 

Download Tuning In to Diversity here.

Creative Access

                     (Left to right: Keturah Cummings, Joey Addai, Reece Parkinson, Neev Spencer, Josh Ryan)

Radiocentre works closely with Creative Access to try and improve the representation of young people from BAME backgrounds and those with a lower socioeconomic status.  In addition to taking part in their internship programme, in conjunction with the BBC we host a number of radio masterclasses for Creative Access interns who are looking to start careers in the Creative Industries. Read more on the most recent masterclass here.

Diversity, equality and inclusion at Radiocentre

Here at Radiocentre we value the diversity of our team. As champions for diversity, equality and inclusion for the commercial radio industry it is important that we lead by example.

We take a pro-active approach to address these important issues, including training (a company-wide unconscious bias workshop, for example) and regular reviews of staff welfare.

Radiocentre continues to develop best practice both here at Radiocentre and on behalf of the industry, although we are conscious our work in this area is constantly adapting.

Diversity statement

In conjunction with the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, Radiocentre has drawn up a diversity statement for the commercial radio industry.

Download our Diversity Statement

For more information please contact a member of the policy team.


*RAJAR Q4 2023