RTÉ holds its own, but Colm and Jim Jim soar

RTÉ Radio presenters have turned in a strong performance in the latest Joint National Listenership Research figures with many of the station’s broadcasters growing audiences in the face of strong competition from independent stations.

Marian Finucane, Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy and Joe Duffy all added new listeners with Gerry Ryan the only big RTÉ star to suffer a loss of listenership.

However, the latest JNLR figures for the period July 2007-June 2008 show few significant changes among audiences for the most popular radio programmes across the main national stations — Radio 1, 2FM, Today FM and Newstalk.

2FM breakfast show hosts, Colm and Jim Jim emerged the main winners adding 19,000 to bring the average listenership to 202,000 — a 10.4% increase.

Although Gerry Ryan’s morning show on 2FM remains the third most popular radio programme in the republic, Ryan suffered a 5% decrease in listenership with 17,000 people switching off to leave him with average audiences of 325,000.

However, Marian Finucane turned in another strong performance adding more listeners for both her popular weekend shows, with 14,000 new listeners alone for her Saturday programme, bringing average audiences to 323,000.

Pat Kenny also recorded good ratings for his mid-morning show – up 13,000 to 291,000 while Ryan Tubridy, Ronan Collins and Joe Duffy all added new listeners.

Among Radio 1 programmes, the only prime time shows to lose audiences were Morning Ireland, Derek Mooney and This Week.

RTÉ broadcasters still account for nine of the 10 most popular shows on Irish radio with Morning Ireland retaining its No 1 spot with average audiences of 432,000, despite recording a decrease of 5,000 listeners on the previous JNLR figures. Only Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy breaks the RTÉ stranglehold on having a monopoly of the Top 10 positions, coming in at No 10. The presenter increased his listenership by 2,000 to the show’s highest rating with a record audience of 254,000.

Today FM’s other main presenters Ian Dempsey and Ray Foley recorded slight but not significant decreases in their audiences.

RTÉ’s Drivetime Show hosted by Mary Wilson narrowly extended her lead over the programme’s main rival The Last Word presented by Matt Cooper on Today FM.

Although Drivetime’s listenership fell by 2,000, Cooper also lost 5,000 listeners to leave Wilson slightly ahead in the key battle for evening drivetime audiences. Newstalk’s The Right Hook presented by George Hook, which occupies a similar slot, also recorded a small fall-off in listenership — down 2,000 to 95,000. However, the station’s Breakfast Show hosted by Claire Byrne and Ger Gilroy added 9,000 extra listeners to gain a total audience of 66,000.

Regional and local stations continued to perform strongly accounting for 53% of the overall market.

Donegal’s Highland Radio remains the station with the highest listenership percentage of any broadcaster with 64% reach in its area, despite suffering a 2% loss of market share.

Other stations with strong listenership figures are Mid West Radio, Limerick Live 95FM, Shannonside/Northern Sound, Radio Kerry, Tipp FM and WLR FM.

Initial figures for the new regional station in the north-west, i102-104, showed it has listenership of 5% and a market share of 1.6% since coming on air in February.

In Dublin’s highly competitive radio market, Radio 1 remains the most popular station followed by FM 104 and 98FM.

In Cork, 96FM has the biggest listenership figures followed by Radio 1 and Red FM.

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