Spike in radio listener figures as Cool FM's audience passes 500,000

Some of the presenting team at Cool FM, which added more than 100,000 listeners according to the latest Rajar figures

COOL FM has added more than 100,000 weekly listeners in the last year and now has half a million people reaching for its dial every week, new research shows.

The station pulled in 503,000 listeners a week in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 397,000 in the corresponding period the year before, according to the latest figures from audience research body Rajar.

It means one in three adults across Northern Ireland are now listening to Cool FM, the highest listenership in the station's 28-year history.

And it almost moves Cool ominously close to Radio Ulster, which has historically always had the highest overall number of listeners tuning in.

"This is a defining moment and represents an extraordinary achievement for Cool FM as for the first time in its history we exceed the magical 500,000 mark," the station's managing director Mark Mahaffy said:

“Everyone associated with the station can be incredibly proud that a third of the adult population throughout Northern Ireland is now listening to Cool FM every week.”


When's Cool's numbers are combined with sister stations, Downtown Radio and the digital-only Downtown Country within the Bauer Group, their collective weekly listenership is at a highest-ever 708,000.

All the other stations in the north with the exception of U105 added listeners in the October-December quarter when compared with the previous year.

Q Radio’s audience increased by an additional 13,000 listeners compared to the same period last year to 285,000, and listeners are also enjoying better music for 30 minutes longer each week as they tune in for eight hours on average, with 63 per cent of their listeners in the 25-44 year old age bracket.

Its regional station figures rose by 10,000 year on year with a weekly reach of almost 153,000 listeners, while Q Belfast attracted an additional 4,000 listeners on the same period last year with a total audience of nearly 133,000.

Managing director and head of programmes Robert Walshe said: “The Q Radio team is thrilled with these figures, which are testament to the efforts we make to attract and retain listeners as well as to our listeners’ loyalty.

“We are continually striving to bring the Q sound to as large an audience as possible and with our recent FM licence extensions, as well as the launch of the Q cube in Ballymena’s Tower Centre, we remain committed to enhancing the station’s reach."

Most listened to Northern Ireland radio stations (weekly audience) Q4 2017 v Q4 2016:

- Radio Ulster: 536,000 (up from 521,000)

- Cool FM: 503,000 (up from 397,000)

- U105: 197,000 (down from 210,000)

- Downtown Radio: 266,000 (up from 260,000)

- Downtown Country: 119,000 (up from 103,000)

- Q Radio Network: 285,000 (up from 272,000).

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