If you’re searching for interesting, insightful, and entertaining radio stations within the UK, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 17 of the most popular radio stations in the UK.
As you may be aware, with the rise in digital streaming, there’s no shortage of high-quality radio stations on the web, which is why we’ve decided to cut through the clutter and give you the absolute favourites amongst listeners in the United Kingdom today!
These top radio stations are also ideal for advertising in the UK, to target local residents or tourists as they tune in to learn more about current affairs, enjoy chart-topping music, insightful interviews & listen to other trending topics.
Dive into our list of the most popular radio stations in the UK!
1. BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and is based in central London.
A part of BBC Radio, it broadcasts a large assortment of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history from the BBC’s headquarters at Broadcasting House, London and has a weekly reach of 10.4 million.
BBC Radio 4 prides themselves on producing insightful journalism keeping their listeners up to date with current affairs domestically and around the world.
To find out more, visit the BBC Radio 4 website and listen live.
2. Kiss FM
KISS FM UK is England’s largest multimedia brand for 15 – 34-year-olds, reaching over 4.6m listeners weekly. Kiss UK radio broadcasts nationally on DAB Digital Radio and on FM in London, Bristol, the Severn Estuary and East Anglia. KISS’s audience is predominantly urban but broadening nationwide with 65% of their listeners now living outside London.
Breakfast and Live@Kiss, hold the largest audience share in London and entertain a full-of-life bunch who loves to engage with the show, from entering competitions to sending shout outs to friends and family.
Kiss FM’s content mainly consists of contemporary and current hits, leaning towards a mix of urban and dance music during the day, with more specialist shows during the evening. The station started off as Kiss FM – a 1980s pirate radio station that was to become the UK’s first legal radio station specialising in ethnic and popular music.
Find out more by visiting Kiss FM’s website. You can also listen live now.
3. BBC Radio World Service
The BBC World Service is a global broadcaster, owned and operated by the BBC. It is the world’s largest of any kind.
The BBC Radio World Service provides a good range of news stories, coverage on politics, economics, and other current affairs from around the world. You can also expect the latest updates from the world of sport, across boxing, tennis, cricket, football, and more.
Find out more and tune in, by visiting BBC Radio World Service website.
4. Leading Britain’s Conversation – LBC
LBC, Leading Britain’s Conversation, was the UK’s first commercial station to receive a license and started broadcasting in 1973. LBC targets upmarket adults aged 35 and older. The station also widened its audience range, releasing nationwide within the UK in 2014.
LBC is a London-based national phone-in and talk radio station that allows listeners to share their views on the topical issues of the day, and to debate politics, current events, and more.
Find out more about Leading Britain’s Conversation by visiting the LBC Radio website.
5. Capital FM
Capital FM forms part of a network of twelve independent contemporary hit radio stations in the United Kingdom, broadcasting a combination of local and networked programming.
Nine of the stations are owned and operated by Global, while the other three are owned and operated under separate franchise agreements. Capital FM is popular among female millennials, it was the UK’s first national, commercial, hit music station, and today reaches 7.8 million people every single week.
The content focuses on music, as well as local news on the hour throughout the day.
Find out more check out Capital FM’s website today!
6. Classic FM
In early 2020 roughly 5.5 million listeners tuned in to Classic FM radio. This made it the foremost popular commercial radio station in the United Kingdom (UK).
Classic FM plays classical genre of music through a number of mediums including audio streaming via the internet, to fulfil their mission of making classical music accessible and relevant to a modern audience through podcasts, events, and its playlists consisting of classical hits from multiple eras.
Broaden your classical music playlist by tuning into the Classic FM website.
7. BBC Radio 2
With 57% positive opinion, BBC Radio 2 is more popular among Baby Boomers than among other age groups and is listened to equally by both males and females. It is one of the leading stations in the United Kingdom with over 15 million weekly listeners.
Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is adult contemporary or AOR, although the station also broadcasts other specialist musical genres. You can also expect celebrity guests, news and sports reports, financial, political, legal and economic discussions as well as a wide range of other topics.
Find out more about BBC Radio 2 by visiting their website today!
8. Smooth Radio
Smooth is the only commercial radio station aimed at listeners aged 40-59. Smooth listeners are loyal and passionate, representing the station’s values and sharing its love of life and music.
With a listenership of 5.7 million listeners weekly, Smooth Radio is indeed a favourite amongst the United Kingdom population.
Apart from sharing their music taste, you can expect content such as interviews, dating segments, current affairs, quizzes and competitions too.
Find out more by visiting Smooth Radio’s website.
9. Heart 80’s
Heart 80’s is the sister station to Heart FM and is owned by Global Media & Entertainment and has a weekly listenership of 1.2 million listeners.
Heart 80’s shows schedule includes morning shows from Monday to Saturday with Neil ‘Roberto’ Williams on weekdays between 6am and 10am, and on Saturday from 8am to 12pm.
Heart 80’s bring you the best of 80’s music and the best feel good jams from Duran Duran, Wham and many more huge pop legends.
Visit Heart 80’s website for more.
10. BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1 is an internet radio station which broadcasts from London. It was established in September 1967 and is owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
With 8 790 000 listeners tuning into the station, ranging between the ages 15-29-year-olds, BBC 1 broadcasts a wide variety of content from music and political discussions, to current affairs, nationwide news, travel, sport, culture, weather and more.
Find out more by visiting the BBC Radio 1 website.
11. Absolute 80’s
The UK’s number one all 80’s national digital radio station, playing all the hits from the 80’s all day, every day. Absolute 80s is more popular among Generation X than among other age groups and is listened to by both males and females.
Absolute 80’s motto is “real music matters” and is home to hits from Dave Berry, Frank Skinner, Jason Manford, and the No Repeat Guarantee.
Listen live by visiting the Absolute 80’s stream website today!
Kisstory launched onto the airwaves for the first time as a full-time station in May 2013.
Before its expansion to a full-time radio station , Kisstory used to be a radio program airing 8 hours per week, playing non stop old school tracks and the biggest hits across Hip Hop, R’n’B, Dance and Garage genres, 24/7.
Having previously only been available over Freeview, in 2014 Kisstory began DAB rollout in London and Greater London, and in 2015 and 2016 it had been progressively made available in DAB more widely across the UK.
Listen live on PlanetRadio’s website now.
13. Absolute Classic Rock
Absolute Radio Classic Rock is a radio station that is owned by the Absolute radio network which broadcasts in London through digital audio broadcasting.
With the majority audience of a mix between generation x and millennials, Absolute Classic Rock’s audience is skewed toward males. The station sticks to non-stop classic rock hits. It is available in the greater London area as well as several other cities in the UK. It is the UK’s only 90’s rock genre radio station.
Listen to Absolute Classic Rock radio live!
14. Magic Radio
Magic Radio is an Independent Local Radio and national radio station located in London. You can listen to this radio station on 105.4 FM or online, across the globe.
As a listener of Magic radio, you can expect commercial classics, and current hits from Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Elton John and Motown to Ed Sheeran, with the trusted hosts Harriet Scott, Nick Snaith, Ronan Keating and others.
Find out by visiting the Magic Radio website.
15. TalkSport Radio
TalkSport is owned by Wireless Group, and covers all things sports. First aired in 1995 as Talk Radio UK, Talksport is broadcast from central London to all over the United Kingdom. TalkSport is the UK’s only national radio station broadcasting sport and sports coverage 24 hours a day, and is the global audio partner of the Premier League. TalkSport broadcasts to a predominantly male target audience aged 35 years and older.
Expect news from the world of sports, and coverage of tennis, boxing, rugby, golf, swimming, and consistent updates from affairs in the Premier League.
Visit Talk Sport’s website to find out more today!
16. Heart Radio
Heart is a very popular commercial radio brand in the UK, with 9.5 million listeners tuning into Heart each week. Heart listeners are from a variety of backgrounds, and the great mix of music played by the stations caters to each listeners likes and preferences.
Whether it’s pop music, the latest hits, or some good old throwbacks from the 90s or earlier, Heart Radio has got you covered while keeping you updated with celebrity news, current affairs from around the world.
Visit the Heart Radio website and tune in to listen to great music.
17. BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live, commonly known as Radio 5, live is BBC Radio’s home of breaking news and live sports coverage.
Listeners can tune into Radio 5 via AM / MW analogue radio, DAB Digital Radio, Sky TV or Freeview to enjoy programming that is designed to inform, entertain and involve. Tune in to hear favourite hosts Nicky Campell and Rachel Burden on the breakfast show, or Nihal Arthenyaka at the lunch time slot as he brings captivating interviews with some big name guests.
Find out more by visiting the BBC Radio 5 website today!
Your International Advertising Agency
If you’re interested in radio advertising, EMPIRE can assist in advertising on radio stations in the UK, with the exception of public broadcasters such as the BBC that do not allow ads.
We are also able to assist you in crafting the ideal radio ad and placing it across a variety of radio stations in different locations in the UK, and to other global audiences.
We provide assistance with advertising in the United Kingdom through other marketing mediums.
If you liked this radio resource, you may also want to find out “how to write a radio advertisement effectively. We can also help you craft perfect radio ads and find more radio advertising placements available on radio stations in a variety of countries so you can support your marketing efforts.
Get in touch with EMPIRE to find out more!