Entertainment Radio

Thursday 18 September 2014

Newstalk's Pat Kenny wins 20,000 listeners in mid morning radio battle but is still 173K behind RTE's Sean O'Rourke

Published 31/07/2014 | 21:34

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2/10/13 Pat Kenny and Sean O'Rourke at the opening night of Heartbeat of Home at the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
2/10/13 Pat Kenny and Sean O'Rourke at the opening night of Heartbeat of Home at the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

PAT Kenny has picked up 20,000 more listeners in the battle for the mid-morning radio slot - but he still remains 173,000 behind RTE rival Sean O’Rourke.

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The Newstalk presenter, who switched from RTE last year, now has 134,000 listeners to his morning chat show up from the 114,000 he had when the last Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey results were published in May.

Even though Newstalk's “Move the Dial” campaign seems to have paid off, the latest figures show Kenny's rival Sean O'Rourke still has the most listeners in the weekday mid-morning talk show slot, with 307,000 listeners, despite a drop of 4,000 over the last quarter.

And while Newstalk attracted 43,000 new listeners to its top six shows over the summer, RTE Radio One's “Morning Ireland” programme is the most popular show in the country with 438,000 weekday listeners despite a decline of 6,000 over the summer.

But for the first time in recent memory, listeners turned away from the State broadcaster in their droves.

While RTE still has the highest listenership figures of any national broadcaster, it did not register any gains in any of its top programmes in the last three months.

The survey found that while the national radio stations were listened to by 57pc of listeners in the greater Dublin market, local and regional radio is the most listened to outside the capital.

The highest percentage of regional listeners was in the north west at 62.2 pc followed by Cork at 60.5pc and the south west at 58.5pc.

Local and regional stations were also the most popular for the 15-34 year old market, holding 66.8pc of listeners.

“Local radio continues to be a strong performer in the individual radio markets across the country – in many areas reaching more than 40pc of

the local adult population daily. In particular, on the criterion of share of minutes listened during prime 7am to 7pm, Highland Radio, MWR and

Radio Kerry hold the majority share position in their franchise areas,” according to the survey.

RTE One's “The Business” show did not live up to its name, losing 21,000 listeners from 319,000 in May to 298,000 while veteran broadcaster Marian Finucane lost a total of 27,000 on both her Saturday (-13,000) and Sunday (-14,000) current affairs programmes.

Even perennial favourite Miriam O'Callaghan did not fare well in the latest ratings, losing 15,000 listeners since May when 262,000 tuned in to her Saturday morning show ‘Miriam Meets’.

‘Late Late Show’ host Ryan Tubridy also lost 4,000 listeners on his 2fm show which has continued to bleed listeners after he took over the reins from the late Gerry Ryan following the veteran DJ's death in April 2010.

Former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne - who filled in for Tubridy on his show in May, 2013 - and now hosts his own weekday morning slot on 2fm has surpassed Tubridy with 145,000 listeners - even though he also lost 6,000 listeners.

An RTE spokeswoman said they knew the 2fm ratings would be down during this survey period, which runs from the end of June 2013 to the end of June 2014, because a number of schedule changes were introduced during that time.

As for the decline in all of the RTE Radio One figures, she said “they’re slightly down but the numbers are still huge.”

Rival TodayFm, however, fared well in the ratings, gaining 7,000 listeners to the Ian Dempsey breakfast show and 5,000 new listeners to Ray D'Arcy's mid-morning show.

However, Newstalk had the greatest number of overall converts with 10,000 new listeners to its Breakfast show with Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue and 5,000 new listeners to “Off the Ball”.

Newstalk CEO Gerard Whelan said listeners are not only “moving the dial” but “people who moved the dial are leaving it on.”

“You can't call it a permanent shift but we're quietly happy that the content is keeping people there,” he said.

Station editor Garrett Harte said the Dublin station now has the largest segment of the 25 to 44-year-old market.

“Our content has always been targeted to a younger audience and it's now bearing fruit,” he told the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, Dublin classic rock station Radio Nova is celebrating its best listenership figures ever since it launched in September, 2010.

The “music for boomers” station which broadcasts in the capital and Dublin commuter belt has increased its daily listenership by 16,000 to 69,000 with a 13,000 increase in its weekly listeners to 124,000.

The survey also found that 83pc of Irish adults listen to the radio every day with more than half, or 57pc listening to their local or regional stations compared to national stations.

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