Claire Byrne a star as RTÉ wins listeners

Women are pulling in the listeners on RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM is snapping at the heels of main rival Today FM, and Newstalk’s Pat Kenny has lost 8,000 listeners since last April.

Claire Byrne a star as RTÉ wins listeners

Figures from the latest Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey show Claire Byrne has been a star draw for RTÉ Radio 1 over the past 12 months, attracting 25,000 more listeners to Saturday With Claire Byrne, bringing total listenership for the show to 230,000.

Miriam O’Callaghan’s Sunday With Miriam on RTÉ Radio 1 also fared well over the past year, gaining an additional 15,000 listeners, bringing the overall figure to 262,000, while results for the Marian Finucane show are more of a mixed bag — up 10,000 on a Saturday and down 12,000 on a Sundayin the past 12 months.

However, her programme still has the third biggest listenership of all RTÉ Radio 1 shows, behind current affairs show Morning Ireland, which has 433,000 listeners, down 5,000 on this time last year, and Liveline, which, despite losing 18,000 listeners in the past 12 months, still has 369,000 tuning in. RTÉ’s Drivetime show has lost 24,000 listeners — the biggest single drop for the station.

With the exception of the women and Seán O’Rourke (up 10,000 to 317,000), all other RTÉ Radio 1 shows lost listeners, with News At One down 16,000 and John Murray down 17,000 to 296,000. Murray, who left the show recently, is set to be replaced by 2FM’s Ryan Tubridy who gained 2,000 listeners in his slot since last April.

2FM has yet to announce Tubridy’s replacement, but speculation is rife that Ray D’Arcy, who defected to RTÉ Radio 1 after quitting Today FM last December, will take over. D’Arcy has gained 7,000 listeners since last April. Full-year figures are not available. Rick O’Shea garnered most additional listeners for 2FM in the past year, up 16,000.

Head of 2FM, Dan Healy, said he was thrilled that the station had “moved to within a fraction of Today FM” with market share above 7%, up from 6.1% since this time last year, and Today FM’s less than 8%, down from over 9% 12 months ago.

Mr Healy said he reckoned the gap would have closed entirely had it not been for Neil Prendeville’s pulling power on Cork’s RedFM, which had an impact on 2FM’s figures. Mr Healy said while some big names who moved stations did not bring the listeners with them, “Pat Kenny has levelled out”, the same could not be said of Prendeville who had the “power of personality”.

Today FM’s loss of one of its biggest personalities, D’Arcy, was being blamed for falls in listenership for a number of shows. Early- morning host Ian Dempsey dropped 13,000 to 183,000; listeners to Anton Savage, D’Arcy’s replacement, fell from 223,000 to 194,000, although the figures are not a year-on-year reflection as Savage is only five months in the job. The Last Word dropped 14,000 listeners.

A Today FM spokesperson said the defection of D’Arcy had “essentially meant a new schedule for the station” and figures would take another 12 months to bed in.

Newstalk grew its market share from 6.1% 12 months ago to 6.6% with Newstalk Breakfast with Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue up 26,000 listeners to 173,000; Jonathan Healy’s Lunchtime up 9,000 year-on-year; Off the Ball Weekend up 67,000 to 234,000, and George Hook’s The Right Hook reaching peak levels of 143,000, an increase of 20,000.

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