Big name broadcasters shed thousands of listeners

RADIO listeners are deserting many of the big name broadcasters in their droves with listenership figures showing worrying trends for the four national stations.

Top presenters such as Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Ryan Tubridy, Ray D’Arcy and Ian Dempsey all dived in popularity over the last year according to the annual JNLR (Joint National Listenership Research) released by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Only RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane and Newstalk’s George Hook bucked the trend, Finucane attracting listeners for her Saturday and Sunday shows and Hook gaining ground in the drive-time slot.

The biggest overall winner is Ruth Buchanan whose Playback show on RTÉ Radio One gained 34,000 listeners but that triumph is tainted by the fact that popular presenter Buchanan retired from the show a week ago.

RTÉ is haemorrhaging listeners from old Radio One reliables like Morning Ireland, the News at One and Mary Wilson’s Drivetime, but arguably the broadcaster’s biggest concern will be making up the loss since the death of Gerry Ryan.

Ryan’s three-hour slot on 2fm was losing listeners before his death last April and it has continued to do so, first when Colm Hayes and Lucy Kennedy took temporary charge and now that Ryan Tubridy has been appointed full-time to cover two hours followed by Colm Hayes.

The stations put a brave face on the results, with RTÉ stressing its “massive” weekend gains courtesy of Marian Finucane and also Miriam O’Callaghan, whose Miriam Meets programme on Sundays is attracting a healthy 273,000 listeners — an impressive achievement for a relatively new show. But Ana Leddy, head of Radio One, admitted: “There’s no denying that there have been drops for daytime programmes across many national radio stations in the country.”

John McMahon, head of RTÉ 2fm, said the station was midway through a three-year regeneration and they were aiming only to hold their ground, but “there is a palpable sense of confidence at the station”. Clare Duignan, managing director over both stations, said: “My instinct is that the scale of societal change going on at the minute has to be a factor.”

Today FM said its Ray D’Arcy Show was the number one programme in the key 20-44 year old age group which was the station’s target market.

It had six out of the seven top programmes in this target market. It also pointed out that Matt Cooper’s Last Word show had gained 4,000 listeners in recent months while RTÉ’s rival Drivetime had lost 8,000 in the same period.

Newstalk highlighted the gains made by George Hook, who was up 7%, and also Sean Moncrieff, who gained 11% to 82,000.

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