This has edged ahead of the previous record set two years ago, which was helped by the inclusion of DAB coverage across the whole of Northern Ireland.
The decision by the original Downtown to ‘split’ its frequencies to carry two services in 1990 was not a straightforward one.
From 1988, stations elsewhere in the UK doing likewise were keeping their main output on FM aiming this at a younger audience, and opening a ‘gold’ alternative on AM.
While a station ‘of the times’ was a good fit for Greater Belfast with the launch of Cool FM, Downtown’s breadth and popularity on FM in the newer northern and western areas, combined with a loyal audience built up within the AM coverage, led to it becoming the station ‘of the place’. The addition of DAB from the early 2000s has allowed Downtown to offer a clear quality signal everywhere.
In terms of weekly reach and listening hours year-on-year, Cool with 506,000 is up from 486,000 and has a drop of 17% in hours; Downtown increases to 264,000 from 245,000 with a 13% loss in hours; and Downtown Country sees a decline to 108,000 from 143,000 and a 51% fall in hours.
Q Radio attracted an extra 24,000 listeners, giving the network 300,000 in all, with hours down by 8%.
U105 decreased to 210,000 from 221,000 in its FM area, with hours up by 10%. To this should be added the audience served only on DAB, of 31,000.
BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle dropped to 516,000 from 524,000, and hours were down by 12%.
The total of the listening hours for the local stations above comprises 56% of the hours spent with all radio, which is up by one percentage point from the RAJAR results in the previous quarter. That gives them a greater share of the cake - birthday or otherwise!
*RAJAR is compiled by Ipsos - MORI
The national picture from Matt Deegan: