2FM losing out in battle of airwaves

2FM is facing a battle to hold on to listeners after suffering further drops in audiences for its prime time programmes.

Latest Joint National Listenership Research quarterly figures show RTÉ’s pop station and its major stars like Ryan Tubridy and Hector Ó hEochagáin have lost more listeners since the previous results three months ago.

In contrast, rival shows on Radio 1, Today FM and Newstalk all recorded gains in their audiences over the same period.

Today FM emerged one of the biggest winners from the latest figures, with all the station’s top presenters adding more listeners over the past year.

Most of Radio 1’s top programmes also bounced back strongly after a slight fall-off in audiences over the last 12 months.

Tubridy, who was poached from Radio 1 to try and retain the sizeable audience held by Gerry Ryan’s show following the broadcaster’s death, has seen a steady decline in listeners since moving back to 2FM in 2010.

The Late Late Show host now has an average audience of 172,000 for his two-hour weekday show, having lost 4,000 listeners over the past three months and 30,000 over the past year.

Hector’s breakfast show on 2FM has also seen its listenership fall by 15,000 over the past 12 months to 122,000.

Despite its poor results, 2FM station head John McMahon claimed its overall results were encouraging as many presenters, including Larry Gogan, Rick O’Shea, Will Leahy, Dave Fanning and Jenny Greene, had all recorded gains.

Mr Mahon insisted the drop in audiences for Tubridy and Ó hEochagáin were “only marginal” in a very competitive market sector.

The station has just a 7.5% share of the national audience compared to the 9.7% share held by its main rival, Today FM.

Radio 1 enjoyed much better results than its sister station with the majority of its most popular presenters gaining listeners.

Among the biggest increases were John Murray (up 7,000 to 334,000), News at One (up 5,000 to 350,000) and Pat Kenny (up 4,000 to 333,000).

However, Derek Mooney bucked the trend with a 5% reduction in listeners — down 12,000 to 226,000.

Weekend programmes on Radio 1 including Marian Finucane’s show, Playback, Miriam Meets and The Business turned in a particularly strong performance, adding between 15,000 and 23,000 listeners each.

Today FM enjoyed the best set of results from the latest JNLR survey with all its main presenters, Ian Dempsey, Ray D’Arcy, Ray Foley and Matt Cooper recording strong increases.

D’Arcy — one of Tubridy’s main rivals — added 15,000 listeners for a total audience of 249,000 and is up 31,000 compared to a year ago.

Newstalk also turned in a respectable performance with its most popular shows earning slight gains.

The station’s breakfast show grew its audience by almost 4% to 138,000 listeners. But Newstalk bosses will have concerns about maintaining such figures following the recent departure of Ivan Yates.

The station has still to select a permanent replacement for the former TD.

George Hook also consolidated his position, adding 1,000 listeners to his drivetime show, The Right Hook, for a total audience of 130,000.

Overall, radio retains its popularity as a medium with 85% of adults tuning in on a daily basis. Six out of ten adults tune in to their local or regional station with 47% listening to a national station.

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