Wednesday 17 October 2018

Highland tops poll with inextricable link to Daniel

Anita Guidera

A LOCAL radio station has bolstered its coveted position as the most listened to local station in the country for a 12th year. According to yesterday's JNLR figures, more than three out of four adults in the Donegal area tune into Highland Radio, which has topped the poll for all but one year since its set-up 13 years ago.

Comprehensive news, current affairs and sports coverage, death notices and an inextricable link with crooner Daniel O'Donnell have contributed to its meteoric success, according to staff.

The figures show the station with a 73pc listenership figure, followed by Mid West with 71pc and North West Radio with 60pc.

In all, six of the Top 10 local radio stations are situated along the western seaboard.

Meanwhile, Paul Claffey, director of Sligo-based North West Radio - due to lose its franchise next year - said the latest figures showed the decision by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland to remove its licence "defies logic".

"It just does not make sense that our licence should be removed," he said.

Reacting to the success of Highland Radio, managing director Charlie Collins said appealing to a local audience was crucial.

"It appears, on the surface at least, that we are giving people what they want," he said, adding that emphasis on local news, current affairs and sport was key. The station manager was critical of RTE talking in terms of raw figures instead of percentages when it came to analysing figures.

"This is a bone of contention with local radio stations all the time. We cannot compare in terms of numbers but if they talked in terms of percentage listenership as we do, then we would be on a level playing pitch," he said.

Highland Radio, subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary due for broadcast next month, also ranks as the most successful local radio station in Europe, Mr Collins said.

The station's flagship morning show with Shaun Doherty, which goes out for three hours on weekdays, places major emphasis on regionally relevant issues. Peaking last year with a record 76pc listenership, the true picture of Highland Radio's success is not reflected in the JNLR figures, which only looks at listening figures in the Republic.

From its Letterkenny studio, Highland Radio also broadcasts extensively across the border to Tyrone, Derry and Fermanagh.

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