Easy listening station Coast FM has risen to third place in the Auckland radio ratings after starting just two years ago.

Programme director Mike Regal said the station's backers knew there was a gap in the market which had been largely ignored, and Coast had brought the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dusty Springfield to that audience.

"We didn't want to be too cool and hip with it and risk alienating people, but on the other side we didn't want to sound too old either. Through good management and good luck we've managed to get ourselves into a place in the market that has really paid off."

Marketers and advertisers tended to focus on the younger generation, but Coast targeted an enormous audience of babyboomers looking for a music station to suit their tastes, Mr Regal said. "A lot of the songs we play, people would say they are daggy, but at the same time they are songs people know, they recognise, and you go to any karaoke bar and this is the sort of stuff people in their 30s are singing."

Over at Mai FM, where the playlist is more Savage than Sinatra, managing director Graham Pryor wondered whether new technology was behind his station's slip to fourth in the ratings. "Maybe the babyboomers aren't listening to iPods yet? Who knows? Although I would suggest it has had a little bit to do with it" Mr Pryor said.

The news wasn't all bad for Mai FM - it actually increased its market share slightly, to 7.6 per cent, and maintained its second place rating in the most listeners' stakes. "We think it's a really good survey and we're very happy with our numbers ... the rest of our close competitors are a long way from us," said Mr Pryor.

Newstalk ZB continued to dominate the Auckland radio scene, with the highest market share (13 per cent) and number of listeners (193,300). While ZB's busy news and talkback format topped the ratings, easy listening music took the next biggest chunk of market share. Classic Hits took a 9.7 per cent share of the market, with Coast cruising into third with 8 per cent - up from 6.7 per cent in the last survey.

Newstalk's good Auckland result was echoed across the country. Nationwide, the Newstalk ZB network had a 12.6 per cent market share and 423,100 listeners, to top both categories. Classic Hits (10 per cent) and the Rock and More FM (each 8.9 per cent) trailed in market share, while the Edge (409,800) and Classic Hits (383,100) were second and third in the listenership category.

Radio Network general manager talk programming Bill Francis was especially pleased Newstalk ZB had regained the top rating in Wellington's breakfast market, the first time the station had held No 1 since the controversial decision to scrap much-loved local host Lindsay Yeo's morning show and replace it with Paul Holmes' Auckland-based show.

He also cast doubt on the future of rival talk network Radio Live which he felt would be desperately disappointed with their survey results.

"They continue to go backwards. I know a number of the people in the Radio Live team and I know they have been working very hard to do well, but [owners] CanWest must be devastated with that effort. There's clearly been a very big investment in the brand and it's just not working."

However, Radio Live Director of Programming Mitch Harris was bullish about his station's 2 per cent market share, saying Radio Live had held its ground while Newstalk ZB's market share had dropped.

"We're actually quite happy ... all the talk stations went down in this survey while we hung in, so we're quite happy. We've been going a year, we've got a quarter of Newstalk's audience and we've got a third of National Radio's audience. That's not bad."

Newstalk ZB and Coast are both part of the Radio Network, part-owned by the Herald's parent company, APN.