Heart FM loses 250,000 listeners after Jono Coleman leaves

When last week’s London radio ratings hit the press Jono Coleman’s replacement Jamie Theakston copped criticism from most newspapers for losing 250,000 listeners from Heart FM’s breakfast show in his first survey on air.

The Guardian, The Evening Standard and even BBC News all covered the results, which saw Heart drop from number one to number three position. Meanwhile, Coleman’s new weekend talk show on LBC went up along with good rises at the whole station.

But station management at Heart is working furiously to help listeners see their side of the story, as this leaked correspondence between the program manager and a listener reveals:

Original comment from ‘Penny’

I emailed you after you axed Jono and said I felt it was a mistake. I am one of the 250,000 listeners who now tune in elsewhere.

I have nothing against Jamie Theakston, but you would have been better leaving Jono hosting a fab show and getting rid of the drive time show which has always been weak. We now love 97.3 and will be joining Jono when he starts his new breaskfast show.

We only started listening to Heart after enjoying one of Jono’s shows when he first started. We encouraged friends to listen too. I believe the station will continue to lose listeners when Jono starts his new show and I think there is absolutely nothing you can do to change this.

What an enormous mistake you have made. Also what a terrible thing to do to Jone who increased the listeners by SO many. You didn’t reply last time, so I will expect nothing this time as you obviously don’t listen to comments made.

But PD Mark Browning did reply:

Dear Penny

Thank you very much for emailing.

I am sorry you did not receive a reply from me after your first email as I always reply to every email I receive, so I will check our records and see if we received your email and if so why you did not hear back from me.

In the issue of Jamie, I am obviously upset that you do not like the new show. I never like to hear of listeners feeling they have to tune away. I must however correct you on a few points.

Firstly we did not axe Jono. His contract with us came to an end, and for personal reasons relating to Jono I cannot obviously comment on the matter any more.

Secondly the reports you have read in the press are simply wrong. Jamie has not lost 250,000 listeners. The audience figures that are being quoted refer to a period when Jono was finishing his period with Heart and Jamie was starting. The press have chosen to make Jamie the subject of their reporting.

Thirdly as the number 1 station in London while Jono was on air he consistently had the number 2 or number 3 breakfast show, despite every other show being number 1. So you will forgive me for finding your email frustrating in its inaccuracy when you freely write to me in capitals stating Jono added ‘SO’ many listeners. This is simply wrong, and is a lesson that one should not believe everything one reads.

From the research we do have that relates to Jamie’s time on air it is showing that the new show is already challenging for number 1 and well ahead of our nearest commercial rival. In time when this research gets published you will read very different headlines, if the press are honourable enough to publish the truth.

Aside from this, I am sorry you do not feel able to enjoy the station, even at Drivetime.

If there is anything I can do aside from changing Jamie or Greg or Erika, then I will happily discuss this with you. And I hope that there are other parts of Heart’s output that you can still enjoy.

Kind regards
Mark Browning