Radio listeners switch to Q and Citybeat in their thousands
The newly-merged Q Radio and Citybeat radio group has added 47,000 listeners over the last year.
Figures from industry measurement body Rajar confirm that the publicly-funded BBC Radio Ulster remains the north's most listened-to station, despite more of their followers switching for the off button.
But between January and March, compared to the same period last year, the big winners were Citybeat, the Q Network and Downtown Radio.
In the first quarter of this year, 145,000 people were tuning into Citybeat each week, while 129,000 turned on to Q Radio, giving the group a total of 274,000 listeners.
Citybeat has a long heritage in the market broadcasting across Belfast while Q Radio is made up of six stations across the north.
They are Q102 covering Derry, Q101 covering South Derry and West Tyrone, and Q97 covering the Causeway Coast area, in addition to Q100.5, Q106 and Q107 in Newry & Mourne, Mid- Ulster and Antrim/Ballymena respectively.
Robert Walshe, managing director of the Q Radio/Citybeat group said: “We're delighted with this phenomenal increase in what is a hugely competitive local radio industry in Northern Ireland.
"We believe the merger of the two stations offers listeners and advertisers alike a fresh new option in the local market, and we look forward to growing and developing the stations with a fantastic presenter line up and an exciting programming mix.”
BBC Radio Ulster - soon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its launch - has an average weekly reach of 524,000 listeners, or 35.3 per cent of the adult (over-15) population, down from 530,000 in the same quarter of 2014.
Downtown, part of the Bauer Media Group, added 6,000 listeners, and its regional managing director Mark Mahaffy said: "At Downtown and sister station we've got the best set of combined figures for four years because, together, our stations reach 601,000 adults weekly, an increase of 27,000 compared to the same period last year.
"Growth across the year in both reach and share underscore the enduring popularity of our brands, with our combined figures now exceeding those of the richly-resourced BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle."
Top local radio stations (weekly listeners) Q1 2015 v Q1 2014
• Radio Ulster - 524,000 (down from 530,000)
• Cool FM - 349,000 (down from 361,000)
• U105 - 180,000 (down from 192,000)
• Citybeat - 145,000 (up from 136,000)
• Downtown - 299,000 (up from 293,000)
• Q Radio Network - 129,000 (up from 91,000)