Listeners may be moving the dial to Newstalk, but the verdict remains out on whether Kenny is persuading large numbers of his former audience to switch away from RTÉ to the independent station.
The latest Joint National Listenership Research results, which are seen as the first true reflection on the impact of Kenny’s shock departure from RTÉ last summer, provide some comfort to both broadcasters.
Kenny had added 18,000 listeners since the previous figures were released three months ago, to bring his average daily audience up to 96,000.
However, the latest figures cover the entire 12 months of 2013 and would reflect in part the smaller audience size of Kenny’s predecessor, Tom Dunne. The former Late Late Show presenter only began working for Newstalk in September.
Although Today with Seán O’Rourke has lost 7,000 listeners since the previous set of results, the show is still attracting 6,000 more listeners compared to a year ago when it was hosted by Kenny. It now has an average audience of 327,000 listeners.
Most media observers acknowledge that true comparisons between the two presenters can only be made with the JNLR results at the end of 2014.
The rivalry between Kenny and O’Rourke has had little impact on their other main competitors — Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy and 2FM’s Ryan Tubridy — whose audience sizes are largely unchanged.
Commenting on the results, O’Rourke focused on the performance which showed the programme had 6,000 more listeners than a year ago.
“They are really strong results. We have got off to a great start in a really competitive time slot.”
His former show, News at One, lost 13,000 listeners, or 4% of its audience, since the previous results three months ago.
O’Rourke joked that he had likened his new show to a cross between a circus and a warzone when he started it in the autumn.
“The stress has given way to enjoyment. I’m more relaxed now.”
Elsewhere, the results were more disappointing for Radio 1, with all the station’s main presenters, with the exception of Marian Finucane, losing listeners over the past three months.
Meanwhile, Hector Ó hEochagáin, who was dropped as presenter of 2FM’s breakfast show last month, increased his audience size by dramatic 10% — up 12,000 to 136,000.
RTÉ confirmed this week that Republic of Telly hosts Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O’Shea, and Keith Walsh will take over the slot which has struggled to compete against Today FM presenter Ian Dempsey, whose audience is up 5% in the past three months to 189,000. Ryan Tubridy’s listenership was unchanged at 152,000 from three months ago but down 5% on last year.
Newstalk enjoyed a mixed set of results with its other main presenters. Its breakfast show, hosted by Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue, added 5,000 more listeners to 126,000, but The Right Hook with George Hook lost 5,000 listeners in the past three months to fall to 130,000.
Overall, 83% of all adults tune into a radio station on a daily basis.