Senior Editor and Researcher
The best radio stations for music in Ireland have a tremendous impact on the media and entertainment landscape, even in 2023.
While there are many ways to tune into top hits outside the radio today, radio is still a significant part of Irish culture. According to the 2022 JNLR report, around 91 percent of Irish adults listen to the radio weekly.
It’s not just older fans who appreciate Ireland’s diverse selection of broadcasts, either. Approximately 87.1 percent of 15 to 34-year-olds constantly listen to the radio throughout the country.
Which radio stations in Ireland are the best for music lovers?
Today, we will look at some of the top-rated and most popular stations, focusing primarily on those that broadcast music (as opposed to news and talk shows).
The 11 Best Radio Stations for Music in Ireland
Interestingly, while radio remains extremely popular in Ireland, the country does have fewer stations than some other regions.
For instance, Dublin has one of the biggest radio audiences in the country, but it’s only home to around 17 different stations.
We’ve browsed through some of the more popular options across the Irish landscape, choosing channels based on their overall quality and listener counts.
However, it’s worth noting the best radio station for you may vary, depending on your genre preferences.
To appeal to a wide range of listeners, we’ve tried to include different styles of stations, covering everything from channels for current pop hits to broadcasts featuring golden oldies.
1. Today FM
Owned and operated by one of the biggest Irish radio conglomerates, Bauer Audio Ireland Ltd, Today FM is a commercial station known for broadcasting music, news, and current affairs.
The station is one of the most popular in the country and even earned a turnover of around 19.4 million in 2009.
Today FM first hit the airwaves in 1997, on St Patrick’s Day, with the name “Radio Ireland.” At first, it was a mixed network, airing talk programming alongside different types of music.
Eventually, after poor ratings, the team updated its daytime schedule to focus on new music and current events. Today FM is also home to the well-known Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show.
Website: Today FM
2. RTÉ 2FM
Commonly referred to as “2FM”, RTÉ 2FM is an Irish radio station operated by the RTÉ brand.
You’ll find it on the 90 MHz frequency throughout Northern Ireland. Plus, it’s syndicated in regions throughout the United Kingdom too.
The station specializes in popular music and chart hits and commonly ranks as one of the most popular broadcasts in Ireland.
Since broadcasting in 1979, RTÉ 2FM has undergone several changes, introducing various shows, schedules, and different kinds of music.
Today, the station shares pre-recorded music and broadcasts live from major Irish music festivals.
Website: RT2 2FM
3. SPIN 1038
Following the CHR broadcasting format, SPIN 1038 is a local radio station in Dublin, Ireland.
It’s owned by the Bauer Media Audio corporation and broadcasts on 103.8 FM, under a contract with the Irish Broadcasting Authority.
While the channel is most popular among locals from Dublin, it can also be heard in various towns throughout the Irish landscape.
Initially, SPIN FM was one of a collection of new independent radio stations introduced to the country in 1999. It was intended to provide an alternative listening experience to younger fans.
Today, it’s best known for playing popular, trending music, usually in a Top 40 hits format.
Website: SPIN 1038
4. Classic Hits Radio
Otherwise known as “Classic Hits,” Ireland’s Classic Hits Radio runs on 94.9 FM in Dublin and 94.8 in Cork.
The independent radio station broadcasts under a sound contract from the Irish Broadcasting Authority and is part of Bay Broadcasting Limited.
Primarily, the station’s playlists include a combination of adult contemporary music and classic hits.
In addition, there are special program segments throughout the day dedicated to tunes from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, with small amounts of classic country and hot hits thrown in.
The station also has its own flagship breakfast show, The Colm & Lucy Breakfast Show.
Website: Classic Hits
5. RTE Gold
If you’re looking for classic hits from your Irish radio channel, RTÉ Gold could be just the station.
This broadcasting station is primarily available through cable television channels, Virgin Media, Saorview, and Eir TV.
The station focuses mostly on music from the 1950s to the 2000s, giving listeners plenty of variety to enjoy.
Weekday programming also includes presenter-led sections from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, while weekends offer a full presenter-led schedule from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Website: RTE Gold
An independent radio station broadcasting across Dublin, FM104 is on the 104.4 MHz frequency.
It is operated by Capital Radio Productions Ltd. It also acts as a subsidiary of the Wireless Group, which runs under News UK.
Launching as the first independent local radio contractor to join the airwaves in 1989, FM104 first started life with the name “Capital Radio.”
The channel follows a contemporary hit format, sharing some of the most popular new songs with listeners.
Although the channel has been extremely popular in the past, it began lagging behind its competitors for listeners in recent years.
7. Radio Nova
Another of the best radio stations for music in Ireland today, Radio Nova is an Internet-focused radio station that broadcasts throughout the country.
The channel primarily focuses on rock music, but listeners can also tune in to hear contemporary hits.
Nova enhances its online presence with streams on 100.4 to 100.5 FM from Saggard Hill to County Kildare.
Nova has recorded a massive increase in listeners over the last few years, achieving its highest listenership ever in 2022.
In Dublin, around 161,000 listeners tune in every week.
Website: Radio Nova
Following the Hot Adult Contemporary format, 98FM is a local station in Dublin belonging to the Bauer Media Audio Ireland corporation.
The channel broadcasts on the 98.1 FM frequency, with an antenna located within the Three Rock Mountain area of County Dublin.
This channel primarily focuses on popular music aimed at 25 to 44-year-olds.
Alongside some fantastic playlists, 98FM also creates many popular daytime shows, including The Big Breakfast Show with Rebecca Shekleton and Brendan O’Loughlin.
Listeners can also tune into hourly news reports, sports updates, weather, and traffic alerts.
9. RTÉ Radio 1
One of the best-known Irish radio stations in the market today, RTÉ Radio 1 is the flagship radio channel owned by the RTÉ brand.
It’s the direct descendent of the Dublin radio station, 2RN, which means its history dates back to 1928.
RTÉ Radio 1 broadcasts talk shows and music content, with the highest listenership of any channel in the country.
Typically, listeners can expect to hear the latest top rock, pop, and dance hits during the music programming sessions.
Website: RTE Radio 1
10. Sunshine 106.8
Broadcasting on 106.8 MHz from Three Rock Mountain to County Dublin, Sunshine 106.8 FM is an easy listening station, included on the rebroadcast system within the Dublin Port Tunnel.
Designated as a radio station created to help people relax, this is one of the best channels to listen to if you’re looking for lighthearted music.
The station officially launched in 2001 and was identified initially as a country station for the first few years. Over the years, the group’s playlist evolved, as did the station’s schedule.
Today, you can listen to the channel 24 hours a day, every day.
Website: Sunshine 106.8
11. Dublin’s Q102
Owned by the Wireless Group, Dublin’s Q102 is a commercial station in Dublin, operating on 102.2 MHz.
The station is explicitly licensed to target listeners over the age of 35 and is required to broadcast hourly news and current events programming, as well as music.
The station initially launched as Lite 102.2 before rebranding soon after.
The station broadcasts primarily adult contemporary music, with regular updates on the weather, traffic, sports, and other local news.
Although it spent a brief time off the air, Dublin’s Q102 was officially relaunched by a former Big Brother UK contestant, Ray Shah.