#RAJAR - Country station sees best launch in 20 years

From a press release to
Posted 28 October 2015, 8.01pm edt

Northern Ireland’s newest and fastest growing radio station has attracted no fewer than 85,000 weekly listeners – just months after its launch.

That means Downtown Country has secured the highest launch audience figures for any new local station in 20 years.

The figures were revealed in the latest report by RAJAR – the body responsible for measuring audience figures across the UK.

They also show that Downtown and Cool FM are the commercial radio market leaders yet again – with a combined listener total of more than 600,000.

MD Mark Mahaffy described the station’s performance as “astonishing”.

“We knew we were onto a winner with Downtown Country – but these incredible figures have exceeded all expectations,” he said.

“Country music has never been more popular and we’re very much tapping into what is the world’s fastest growing musical genre. We are delighted with its success just a short time after it was launched.”

Downtown Country is a province-wide 24/7 music station covering an exciting eclectic mix of American and local country showcasing a plethora of talent across the spectrum of both contemporary and classic genres.

It is the UK’s first digital country station and the first-ever indigenous digital only radio station in Northern Ireland.

Head of Programming Stuart Robinson added: “Our programmes have taken on a fresh and modern approach and have provided a platform to introduce new country presenting talent and music to Northern Ireland’s airwaves. “We want to take this opportunity to say a big thank-you to our listeners – all 85,000 of you every week. This is quite simply a tremendous achievement.”

Among the artists featured on Downtown Country are contemporary stars such as Carrie Underwood, Ward Thomas and Lady Antebellum along with the more traditional legends including Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

Pictured above: Downtown Country presenters Stuart Banford, Kirstie McMurry and BIg T celebrating the station's first RAJAR figures.

More information

Downtown Country
Northern Ireland


4 years, 2 months ago

During the height of "the troubles" in Northern Ireland, Downtown Radio and its news team were formidable competitors against BBC Northern Ireland.
Although it is now consistently trailing behind BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle, Downtown is still a well respected broadcaster with sister stations Cool FM and newcomer Downtown Country.
Well done to newcomer Downtown Country, it has passed the survival test where 3C Cool Country failed. Incidentally, 3C was available on the old Score Digital NI multiplex.

Older listeners may remember Downtown Radio being featured as 'The Market Leader' in one of the old IBA annuals, celebrating back then the station's service extension into Derry and Limivady (including Coleraine and Portrush)..

4 years, 2 months ago

It may well simply be that 3C ("Continuous Cool Country") was too early - both for the technology, but also for the music genre, which has had significant growth in the past few years.

4 years, 2 months ago

Yes I remember 3C on my first DAB set about 10 years ago, 128 and in stereo, I believe it came from Clydebank just 16 miles from where I live.

4 years, 2 months ago

Isn't it purely down to different musical tastes in NI, which would make such a service a viable proposition, alongside a long established brand extension of an already successful show on Downtown?

4 years, 2 months ago

Martin, I agree with your point about region specific taste.
Hugo Duncan (the wee man from Strabane) is very popular on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle with his daily 'Country Afternoons' programme.
Also, Tommy Campbell with 'Big T Country' is a well known character on Downtown Radio.
I think the passion for country music is greater in Northern Ireland than it is on the British mainland! Mind you, Ireland's Foster & Allen is a crowd filler in Scottish theatres...

4 years, 2 months ago

We recently added Chris Country to the Portsmouth minimux. I have to say I never really thought the country music genre was for me. I really don't like Hank Williams or Dolly Parton. However, having a listen to Chris Country has made me realise that country music can be cool. I've even Shazamed and downloaded a song!

It doesn't surprise me to read that Downtown Country has got off to a great start, especially with some good cross promotion behind it.

There is no Downtown 2 or Downtown 3 on Northern Ireland DAB, unlike on other 100% owned Bauer muxes. But the name Downtown Country is clear what it is. I'm surprised they decided to rename The Hits as [station] 3 instead of [station] Hits for example.

4 years, 2 months ago

The situation is different in Northern Ireland. Cool FM (a city 1 equivalent) only broadcasts to Belfast, whereas Downtown is province wide, with the other odd set up of being on medium wave in Belfast and FM everywhere else, so you can't get the same City 1, 2 & 3 fit.

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