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Sunday 21 September 2014

Pat Kenny - 'I was hit hard by financial crisis'

Published 28/08/2013 | 18:00

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Pat Kenny who has left RTE radio for Newstalk
Pic:Mark Condren 
31.7.2013
Pat Kenny who has left RTE radio for Newstalk Pic:Mark Condren 31.7.2013
Pat Kenny has opened up in detail about leaving RTE
Pat Kenny has opened up in detail about leaving RTE
Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Dave Fanning, Gay Byrne and Ryan Tubridy, enjoying an evening in O'Donoghue's bar on Merrion Row, Dublin
Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Dave Fanning, Gay Byrne and Ryan Tubridy, enjoying an evening in O'Donoghue's bar on Merrion Row, Dublin

Broadcaster Pat Kenny has revealed he was hit hard by the financial crisis, but insists his move from RTE to Newstalk was not motivated by money.

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Mr Kenny (65), who was one of RTE's highest paid presenter, has said that he is "not unique" in his financial losses in the recession.

"People like me who are freelance broadcasters and have been for well over 30 years," the former Late Late Show host said.

"I’m always amused at the idea that I’m in the semi state sector – well you know – no pension, if you’re sick you don’t get paid, if you’re a woman and you’re pregnant, you have your baby on your own time – we are freelance broadcasters and clearly we have to look after our own pensions and our own futures, so you make investments, they look good at the time," he told TV3 News.

"They didn’t turn out so well, and I’m not unique in that respect.

"So yes, I was hit hard but not ‘holed below the water line’.

"I’m not sinking."

The popular TV and radio host surprised many when he announced that he would be leaving RTE after 40 years for rival broadcaster, commercial station Newstalk.

But he reiterated that his new salary of a reported €400,000 would not affect him any differently than that of his salary at Montrose, and said that he would not be divulging the details of his finances or contract.

"Not particularly differently than the way RTE would have sorted me financially so, no," he replied when asked about his current financial status.

"That was never an issue."

Although he lost current affairs show The Frontline, Mr Kenny said that his relationship with RTE is strong as ever, and the door is open for a potential return to TV.

"It wasn’t that relations had soured," he began.

"In fact I left the director general Noel Curran of RTE on very good terms and neither he nor I have ruled out the notion of working on RTE television.

"I certainly won’t be working for the foreseeable future on RTE radio, but there’s every possibility that I’ll do some work on RTE television, so it’s not that.

"It was the combination of the amount of work that I’d be required to do between Primetime and the radio show, and I really felt it wasn’t possible to deliver work of quality with that rate of work - two nights a week, five mornings a week.

"I didn’t think that I could do justice to either format on an on-going basis, over a period of years.

"This way I’m doing 5 days of radio a week, and if I choose to do television it will be on my own terms and on my own timing."

Kenny's new time slot at Newstalk currently holds 55,000 listeners, and he explained that he would love see a boost to six figures over the next year.

"Well I’m going to work very hard, trying to get the message out there that what I did before, which was to win over 300,000 listeners, I’ll be doing exactly the same, with obviously some subtle variations, and if people liked what they heard then, hopefully they’ll  like what they hear now and move in great numbers across," he explained.

"I’m not underestimating the challenge because the audience rating JNLR books, which come out every three months, they’ll be looking at annual figures so, I’d expect to be judged on success or failure maybe in a year’s time or thereabouts, and not on three months and six months and nine months because I’ve got to wash through a whole year before we can get a true assessment as to how successful the whole thing has been – but that’s the fun of it.

"The fun is to build – it is something I’ve been used to in my old employment – trying to hold what you have – that’s probably a more challenging thing to have to do, than to build from a lower base, so exciting, challenging and I hope it’s going to be fun.

"I mean people have the habits of a lifetime.

"The radio that is up on a shelf somewhere, tuned to one station and switched on at the mains, possibly even out of reach somewhere, and the job is to persuade people that it’s worth trying something new and listening in.

"Although we shouldn’t forget that George Hook and Sean Moncrieff and the breakfast show and the lunchtime show, have significant listeners and I would hope that instead of people maybe switching from some of those shows to other stations, that they’ll stay with Newstalk and stay with me from 10am and 12.30pm."

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