Saturday 29 April 2017

Michael O'Doherty: How to make a killing at RTE? Be male, over 50 and almost invisible

Kathryn Thomas and Claire Byrne
Kathryn Thomas and Claire Byrne
Michael O'Doherty

Michael O'Doherty

Some things only come once a year, but we appreciate them all the more for their scarceness. Christmas, the Eurovision, the Rose of Tralee - and, of course, the annual announcement of RTE's highest-paid presenters.

This being RTE, the figures released last week couldn't possibly be up to date. For some reason, it takes them over a year to work out exactly how much they pay their staff - meaning that what they revealed is the earnings for 2014. As ever, the figures make for fascinating reading.

Six of the top 10 earners were men over 50, working predominantly on radio. Of those, let's leave aside for the moment the extraordinary revelation that 2FM DJ Colm Hayes earned €170k in 2014. Having been moved to a Saturday and Sunday morning slot in the middle of 2015, one assumes that he will drop off the list the next time it's published.

While few would begrudge the big money paid to Joe Duffy and Sean O'Rourke, who single-handedly present daily shows that attract huge numbers, more than a passing eyebrow might be raised at the fact that lunchtime radio newsreader Richard Crowley earned €174k, while the almost-invisible Agriculture Correspondent George Lee earned a staggering €180k.

As ever, notable by their absence were the younger, high-profile presenters who front some of RTE television's most popular shows, as there is ne'er a sight of Kathryn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Maura Derrane and Daithi O Se on the list.

The message seems to be quite simple - longevity with the organisation, rather than your pulling power with the audience, is what resonates in the corridors of power in Montrose.

You don't have to be male, greying and anonymous to earn big bucks in RTE. But it certainly helps.

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