Fans switch from 2FM since death of Gerry

2FM is battling to hold on to listeners following the death of the station’s top presenter Gerry Ryan last April after new figures show thousands of fans are continuing to switch off RTÉ’s pop station.

The latest results of the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) reveal that Ryan Tubridy’s move from Radio 1 has failed to shore up audiences for 2FM’s flagship programme.

Although the Late Late Show presenter is only hosting a two-hour programme compared to Ryan’s three-hour slot, the morning show has lost 91,000 listeners over the past 12 months and now attracts an average of just 216,000 listeners each day.

Ryan regularly attracted in excess of 325,000 at the height of the show’s popularity, although his audience figures had also begun to decline in the two years before his death.

The new host of 2FM’s Breakfast Show, Hector Ó hEochagáin, has also struggled to hold on to the time slot’s existing audience amid increased competition on the airwaves.

The presenter, who hosts the show from Galway, attracts an average audience of 133,000 — down 24,000 over the past year when the programme was presented by Colm and Jim Jim who had also previously seen a major fall-off in listeners.

However, the head of 2FM, John McMahon, described the first results for the station’s schedule which was launched in September as “encouraging”.

Mr McMahon said the reduction in the time slots of key shows from three to two hours was “always going to impact on figures”.

The figures provided better news for Tubridy’s own replacement on Radio 1, John Murray, who took over the show in September.

The first results for Murray show he gained 2,000 listeners to reach a total audience of 332,000 over the past three months. However, the audience has decreased over the past year from a peak of 363,000.

Other top presenters including Pat Kenny, Ronan Collins, Derek Mooney and Joe Duffy suffered a year- on-year decline in audience size, although some like Kenny recorded slight increases on the previous quarter.

Marian Finucane again bucked the trend by growing the audience for her Saturday show by 19,000 to 400,000 and her Sunday show by 32,00 to 369,000.

The managing director of RTÉ Radio, Clare Duignan, said the latest JNLR figures showed that Radio 1 had reversed some recent slippage in audience sizes.

RTÉ’s main rival, Today FM, also showed a year-on- year decline in listenership for its main presenters including Ray D’Arcy, Ian Dempsey, Matt Cooper and Ray Foley. However, there was little change in the size of most of Today FM’s audiences over the past three months.

Newstalk 106FM also recorded slight decreases in listenership over the past year.

In Cork, listenership figures for the Neil Prendeville show on Cork 96FM have fallen from 123,000 in 2009 to 111,000 last year. The audience figures fell by 4,000 in the last three months of 2010 — which covered part of the period when the broadcaster was forced to stand aside from presenting his popular daily show after he committed a lewd act on board an Aer Lingus flight.

Some 85% of Irish people tune in to some station on a daily basis.

RTÉ Radio 1 recorded a slight gain in overall listenership up 1% to 25%, while Today FM (13%), Newstalk (8%) and Lyric FM (3%) showed no change. 2FM fell by 1% to 13%. The multi-city station 4FM showed no change at 3%.

Donegal’s Highland Radio remains the country’s most popular station on a per capita basis.

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