Cool FM and Downtown Radio reel in 129,000 extra listeners, Rajar figures show

Mark Mahaffy (centre), regional managing director at Cool FM and Downtown Radio, with country stars Lisa McHugh and Derek Ryan at the launch of Ireland's first-ever ‘Farmers Bash’ planned for October. Downtown's dedicated country radio station passed the landmark 100,000 listener mark in Q1
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SISTER radio stations Cool FM and Downtown have added nearly 130,000 new listeners over the last year - helped in part by keepin' it country.

Part of the Bauer Group, they were the big winners in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same three months last year, according to figures from industry monitoring body Rajar.

Cool FM alone had 85,000 extra listeners year on year, taking its weekly reach figure to 473,000, while Downtown Radio saw an additional 25,000 people tuning in.

And the Downtown Country station - which launched just two years ago and covers a mix of American and local country music, showcasing talent right across the spectrum of contemporary and classic genres - put on 19,000 more listeners, taking it beyond the six-figure mark (103,000) for the first time.

The two other commercial stations in the north had mixed fortunes during January, February and March, the Rajar numbers show.

The Q Radio network - which is moving from its old premises on Belfast's Ormeau Road to a new broadcasting base at the Fountain Centre in the city centre next week - enjoyed a listenership uplift of 41,000, taking its quarterly average reach to an all-time record 289,000.

But U105 has a less-successful quarter as 36,000 of its followers reached for the off button and its overall figure dipped to 193,000 ('weekly reach' is defined as number of people who tune in to a station for at least one quarter-hour period over the course of a week).

The publicly-funded BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle remains the north's most listened-to station. Its average weekly reach fell to 518,000 listeners but that still represents approximately 34.8 per cent of the population.

Programming broadcast on BBC Radio Foyle, as reported by Rajar, reached 39,000 listeners, the same as the previous quarter and the equivalent quarter in 2016.

Top local radio stations (weekly listeners) Q1 2017 v Q1 2016

- Radio Ulster - 518,000 (down from 546,000)

- Cool FM - 473,000 (up from 388,000)

- U105 - 193,000 (down from 229,000)

- Downtown Radio - 268,000 (up from 243,000)

- Downtown Country - 103,000 (up from 84,000)

- Q Radio Network - 289,000 (up from 248,000)

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