This article relies excessively on references to primary sources. Please improve this article by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Find sources: "Downtown Radio" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Downtown Radio
Broadcast areaNorthern Ireland
Frequency
  • DAB: 12D Northern Ireland
  • FM: 96.4 MHz Coleraine
  • FM: 96.6 MHz Omagh
  • FM: 97.1 MHz Larne
  • FM: 102.3 MHz Ballymena
  • FM: 102.4 MHz Derry
  • FM: 103.1 MHz Newry
  • FM: 103.4 MHz Newtownabbey
  • FM: 103.4 MHz Newcastle, County Down
RDSDowntown
Programming
FormatHot Adult Contemporary
Ownership
OwnerBauer Media Audio UK
Cool FM

Cool FM Old Skool Downtown Country

Greatest Hits Radio Northern Ireland
History
First air date
16 March 1976; 47 years ago (1976-03-16)
Former frequencies
AM: 1026 KHz
Links
WebcastPlanet Radio
WebsiteOfficial Website

Downtown Radio is a Hot Adult Contemporary music radio station based in Newtownards, County Down, that serves all of Northern Ireland using a network of FM and DAB transmitters.

As of September 2023, the station has a weekly audience of 288,000 listeners according to RAJAR.[1]

History

Former logo

The station, also known as DTR or simply Downtown, began broadcasting on 16 March 1976 - the same day as Prime Minister Harold Wilson resigned. The station had a mini scoop, breaking the news over an hour before BBC Radio Ulster.[citation needed]

Downtown Radio has very much become part of the broadcasting landscape of the entire nine-county province of Ulster. Many of its presenters, such as Trevor 'Big T' Campbell and Candy Devine, are household names - Campbell and Devine have been with Downtown since it began broadcasting.

Initially, Downtown was only contracted to broadcast to the Greater Belfast area, on 1026 kHz AM and 96 MHz (later 97.4 MHz) FM. However, following the collapse of plans for a station in the Derry region (Northside Sound) in 1983, Downtown applied to the former Independent Broadcasting Authority to extend its coverage. Transmitters covering the north west, the Causeway Coast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone were opened in 1986 and 1987, and the station briefly rebranded itself as "DTRFM" to reflect its new audience reach.

The station reverted to Downtown Radio again in 1990 following the introduction of its sister station, Cool FM, although the latter only broadcast on the 97.4 frequency in the Greater Belfast area. Other transmitters remained with Downtown.

New FM transmitters in South Down/Armagh, and Mid and East Antrim opened in the 1990s to improve reception in those areas.

The station has been very highly regarded in the past for its news output, and was a regular stop-off point for radio journalists covering The Troubles in Northern Ireland over a 30-year period. It was the first radio station in Ireland to offer hourly news bulletins. Changes in management made in 2007, as well as the success of the peace process, have led to Downtown reducing its news output somewhat. It is notable for being one of the few Independent Local Radio stations to still cater for minority tastes such as gospel and jazz. The country music programmes broadcast several times a week are among Downtown's highest listenership ratings. In December 2012, Downtown opened a small studio in Derry ahead of the city’s year of being UK City of Culture, situated in the Food Quarter within Foyleside Shopping Centre. It remains open and in use, mainly at the weekend with presenter-led programming on Saturday afternoon and Sunday covering a range of events in the region.

On 12 November 2023, it was announced that the station would cease broadcasting on medium wave (AM) before the end of the year.[2] AM programming ceased on 7 December 2023.

Frequencies

Notable past presenters

Past presenters include Eamonn Holmes and Frank Mitchell.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ "RAJAR". www.rajar.co.uk. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  2. ^ Bauer to turn off AM services in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland Radio Today, 12 November 2023