Radio listeners opt for local stations over top presenters

Radio listeners are turning away from many of the country’s best known presenters in favour of local radio stations, according to the official audience figures.

Radio listeners opt for local stations over top presenters

New results published by the Joint National Listenership Research show top broadcasters like Marian Finucane, Derek Mooney and Ronan Collins all suffered a significant drop in listeners last year.

Ms Finucane lost a massive 44,000 listeners for her Sunday morning show during 2012 — a 13% decrease, although 305,000 still tune in. Her Saturday show fared considerably better — down just 1% to 363,000.

Daily show presenters, Ronan Collins and Derek Mooney, saw their audiences drop by 7%, while the Sunday current affairs show, This Week, is down 8%.

Other broadcasters fared better, with Mary Wilson’s Drivetime up 9% to 265,000

However, some of the country’s most popular radio shows, including Morning Ireland, Today with Pat Kenny and Miriam Meets also recorded small decreases.

The JNLR figures make worrying news for 2FM, with the station continuing to lose listeners.

Ryan Tubridy, whose father died earlier this week, saw his audience fall by 9% last year — down 16,000 to 160,000. Colm Hayes also suffered a 6% drop — down 9,000 to 131,000.

2FM’s Breakfast with Hector show did marginally better — remaining static at 124,000 — although he suffered a loss of 14,000 compared to the same survey three months ago.

Today FM seems to have captured some of those audiences as its key morning show hosts, Ian Dempsey and Ray D’Arcy, recorded increases of 2% and 4% respectively. However, it wasn’t all good news as both presenters have suffered a loss of listeners compared to the previous quarter.

Newstalk had mixed results with its Breakfast show losing 12,000 listeners, or 9%, during 2012, with most of the losses coming in the last quarter — a sign which may indicate audience have switched off since Ivan Yates quit the programme.

Overall, the national audience for radio is falling, with 84% of adults tuning in every weekday — a drop of 1% over the year — with the switch-off more pronounced among RTÉ, Today FM and Newstalk.

A Today FM spokesperson said emigration may be playing a factor in the results as over 30,000 are estimated to have left Ireland last year.

Local and regional stations managed to maintain their audience figures.

The chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, John Purcell, said local stations constantly had to endure the spin that RTÉ commanded the country’s radio market.

Calling for local radio to have access to funding from the licence fee, he claimed the latest JNLR results showed the State broadcaster was being comprehensively beaten in audience size in all 17 radio franchise areas.

RTÉ managing director of radio, Clare Duignan, admitted the JNLR results represented a “mixed bag” for its stations, but pointed out that RTÉ broadcasts 19 of the top 20 programmes for audience size.

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