RTÉ’s big names rule in battle of the airwaves

RTÉ broadcasters have again emerged as the big winners in the battle of the airwaves as the latest Joint National Listenership Research results reveal Radio 1 remains the country’s favourite station.

The national broadcaster also maintains its monopoly hold on the Top 10 programmes in Ireland.

The new JNLR figures show that leading presenters like Ryan Tubridy, Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy and Derek Mooney all recorded double-digit growth in their audience size in the 12 months to September 2009.

The results also brought good news for Newstalk 106-108FM, which improved listenership figures for all its top shows over the same period.

However, there were more mixed results for Today FM, while 2FM continued to suffer a slight loss of listenership in the face of strong competition from other music stations.

Nevertheless, Today FM chief executive Willie O’Reilly claimed it was a “red letter day” for the station as it overtook 2FM for the first time in terms of market share.

All RTÉ Radio 1’s main stars have increased the number of regular listeners to their show since 2008, although News at One and Liveline have suffered a slight decrease compared to the previous quarter.

Star performer was Marian Finucane who has added 52,000 listeners to her Sunday morning show over the past year – to reach an average audience of 333,000. Her even more popular Saturday programme regularly attracts 377,000 listeners.

Morning Ireland also consolidated its position as the No 1 radio programme in Ireland with 467,000 listeners – up over 7% in the past year.

RTÉ’s second station 2FM continues to suffer a loss of listeners amid strong competition from other stations aimed at the young adult market.

The station’s morning show hosted by Colm and Jim-Jim continues to lose its audience share – down by more than 14% to 169,000.

2FM’s Gerry Ryan suffered a 3.5% drop in listeners in the past 12 months – down 11,000 to 305,000, although he has recorded a slight recovery since the previous quarterly survey.

In the evening market, RTÉ’s Drivetime hosted by Mary Wilson has extended its lead over the rival Last Word programme on Today FM.

Drivetime has added 27,000 listeners over the past year to reach an average audience of 256,000 while Matt Cooper’s show has lost 17,000 over the same period to 190,000. Another rival programme, Newstalk’s Last Hook with George Hook has grown to 112,000 – an annual increase of 12%.

Newstalk’s Eamon Keane recorded the highest percentage increase of any broadcaster, albeit from a smaller base – with the average audience for his lunchtime programme up 28% to 68,000. The station’s Breakfast Show featuring Claire Byrne and new presenter, Ivan Yates, is up 20% on an annual basis to reach 78,000 listeners.

Meanwhile, Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy and Ray Foley have also improved their listenership figures over the past year, although Ian Dempsey has seen a 5% drop-off in listeners to 222,000.

Cork’s local stations, 96FM and Red FM showed no major changes in the face of strong competition from national stations.

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