His exit was as sudden as it was unexpected, but Johnny Vaughan left Capital FM on a high with its biggest audience for nearly eight years.
Capital FM had 2.25 million average weekly listeners in the final quarter of 2011, up 14.9% year on year, according to the latest official Rajar figures published on Thursday. Vaughan quit the station's breakfast show abruptly in November after nearly eight years.
The station regained the top spot among the London commercial stations from Bauer Radio's Magic.
Capital also had its biggest weekly reach since the first three months of 2004 – coincidentally the last quarter before Vaughan took over the breakfast show – when it had an audience of 2.34 million.
But Global Radio-owned Capital still has some way to go before it matches the 7.9% share of the London audience it had back then.
Capital's latest share was 5.9%, just ahead of Magic, which had 2.17 million weekly listeners and a 5.7% share.
Capital's sister station Heart took third place in London in terms of weekly reach with 1.93 million, ahead of Bauer-owned Kiss 100's 1.87 million.
But Kiss had the edge in terms of audience share, with 5.4% against Heart's 4.6%.
Vaughan left his near-£1m-a-year job at Capital on 18 November so the latest Rajar figures also include the audience for his interim replacement Greg Burns, who co-hosted the show with Lisa Snowdon before Dave Berry was given the job full time.
The Capital breakfast show remained by some distance the most popular commercial offering in London with an average of 1.32 million listeners between 6am and 10am.
It was 16% up on the previous three months and nearly 22% up year on year.
Heart London's breakfast pairing of Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott slipped from second to fourth in the capital with 814,000 listeners, overtaken by Magic 105.4's Neil Fox, with 848,000, and Kiss 100's Rickie, Melvin and Charlie, who were listened to by 838,000 people.
The biggest faller in the Capital was another Global station, Xfm, which was down 6.7% on the previous three months and 23.3% year on year to 406,000.
Elsewhere in the capital, BBC London 94.9 had a weekly reach of 485,000 – up 2.3% on the previous quarter but down 3.4% year on year.
Smooth Radio, owned by GMG Radio – part of Guardian Media Group, which also publishes MediaGuardian.co.uk – was down 2.4% year on year and fell 25.5% on the quarter to 456,000.
Nationwide, Global's Capital network of stations was up 4.7% year on year to 7.08 million but sister network Heart – which has also been rolled out across the country – fell back 3.6% on 2010, down to 7.46 million.
Smooth's national network had a weekly audience of 3.31 million, down 0.4% on the quarter but up 7.5% year on year.
Double-digit year-on-year winners among the digital-only commercial stations included Jazz FM, up 14.3% to 512,000, Bauer's Heat, up 16.3% to 648,000, and the Absolute pairing of Absolute 80s, up 24.5% (but down 18.7% on the quarter) to 828,000 and Absolute Radio 90s, up 18% to 348,000.
Year on year fallers included NME Radio, down 20% to 188,000, and Bauer's The Hits, which despite losing 12.4% of its audience remained one of the biggest commercial digital-only networks with 984,000 listeners a week.
Overall, digital radio accounted for 29.1% of all radio listening, up from 25% in the last quarter of 2010.
Digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio accounted for 19.4% of all radio listening, up from 15.8% a year earlier. Listening via digital TV and on the internet dropped back on the previous quarter, albeit marginally, to 4.5% and 3.4% respectively.
The BBC remains the dominant radio player with 55.5% of all listening, against the commercial sector's 42.4%.